Expert workshop

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Expert Workshop

Mind the Gap: Critical Perspectives on Migration Theories and Data

3-4 December 2020

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium

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Download the call for applications.

General information

The shortcomings in international migration statistics and theories have challenged researchers and policymakers ever since international organisations commenced gathering data on migration. Gaps constitute a notable obstacle for the researchers and authorities to understand the global migration patterns better, develop scenarios, design effective policies, monitor the needs of the population, and to identify how these needs change over time. In the last few decades, there have been multiple attempts by national governments, international and regional organisations, and private institutions to collect better data on migration.  However, the existing data on international migration suffers from problems (gaps) of inconsistency in definitions and data collection methodology, lack of adequate statistics, ignorance of new data sources and limitations for comparability, among others. On the other hand, the links between the existing migration theories and the contemporary migration patterns, dynamics and status have been under question. Recent changes in the dynamics and modalities of migration have not been deeply studied through going beyond the predominant theories and their components.  Scholars and international institutions have repeatedly called on to resolve these issues and insisted on the urgent need for comprehensive, accurate and timely data on migration. In spite of efforts, achieved improvements have been limited.

Therefore, this workshop will focus on the identification of gaps in migration data systems and coherence in terms of definitions, contemporary migration dynamics, and the (missing) links to the existing theories. The goal of the workshop is to bring together those researchers and practitioners who work on international migration data and theories to discuss and present their experience, knowledge and research on the topic. The significance of the workshop outcome will be to recommend solutions for national and international statistical organisations on improving migration statistics and discuss the issues in existing theories. The workshop is organised within the framework of the wider EU funded Horizon 2020 project “Enhanced Migration Measures from a Multidimensional Perspective” (HumMingBird).


Call for applications:

The expert workshop on “Mind the Gap: Critical Perspectives on Migration Theory and Data” will take place on 3-4 December 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. This international workshop will convene established scholars, members of statistical offices and public institutes, data collectors, data holders and data users, practitioners, policymakers, students, and civil society organisations who work on migration data and theories related issues from a critical perspective. The participants are expected to present their work and discuss the topics related to gaps, collection, limitations, quality and development of international migration data and theories. The presentations might refer to challenges with the migration data sources (i.e. thematic gaps, timeliness, registration, data collection methods, definitions, comparability, etc.); challenges with the migration theories (i.e. where can the predominant migration theories fail to address the contemporary migration dynamics, etc.).  Nevertheless, the applications are not limited to the above-mentioned topics, experts of other disciplines who want to tackle the issue of gap in migration data and theories from a different perspective are also welcomed to submit their applications. Both conceptual and empirical work are welcome as well as specific case studies and the best/worst practices. The organisation committee aims to work on a special issue with a selection of the proceedings.

Keynote speakers:

Douglas S. Massey, Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, US.

Eleonore Kofman, Professor of Gender, Migration and Citizenship at Middlesex University in London.

Frank Laczko, Director of IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) in Berlin.

Michel Poulain, Emeritus Professor at Université catholique de Louvain and Longevity expert in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

Guide for applicants:

Deadline for submission: 15 June 2020

Please apply via the online application link below, where you will be expected to submit the abstract (max. 250 words) and a motivation of maximum 250 words, and a text explaining briefly the reason why your participation would add values to the expert workshop (max. 200 words).

Link to submit your application:

Abstracts will be reviewed by the workshop organisers, and the decision on abstracts will be communicated by 30 June 2020.

For questions you can contact professor Tuba Bircan at and Ahmad Wali Ahmad-Yar at

The event for the accepted participants will be free of charge, however, the applicants are expected to cover their own transport and accommodation costs. Catering during the conference will be provided by the organisers.



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement No 870661