20th IMISCOE Annual Conference

  • Smith, K. (Participant)
  • Rosa Mas Giralt (Participant)
  • Martha Montero-Sieburth (Participant)
  • Domiziana Turcatti (Participant)
  • Hana Alhadi (Participant)
  • Noemi Garcia-Arjona (Participant)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipating in a conference, workshop, ...


Participated in the Session "The construction of cultural inequalities in research with migrant families and youth as participant."

This intergenerational roundtable brings together senior and junior migration researchers and practitioners to (1) explore the utility of the concept of “culture” in understanding the inequalities migrant families and young people confront; and to (2) critically address the role that researchers and practitioners play in reinforcing and/or resisting cultural inequalities as they impact migrant families and youths.

Culture is not only a complex concept to define but also a highly contested one. While the notion of culture can be deployed descriptively to identify social relations, practices, meaning-making, and symbolic processes (Hammersley, 2019; Hannerz 1992; Levitt, 2005), culture can also become a mechanism for “othering” (Grillo, 2003) and for essentialising communities along ethnic, national or racial lines (Dahinden and Korteweg, 2022).

Yet, along with the social, economic, and legal inequalities migrant families and youth face, are the cultural inequalities that are critical. Whilst migrants may have diverse and varied cultural assets to navigate and establish themselves in receiving contexts, their cultural practices are often appropriated and simultaneously used against them to explain their “lack of integration” (Schinkel, 2013; Dowling, 2020). Furthermore, the new cultural practices and forms that migrant families and youths forge to cope with intersectional forms of oppression may be devalued and made invisible, whilst strategies of invisibility allow some migrant families to circumvent hostile situations and be “socially unmarked” (Malkki, 1995: 164).

In this interactive roundtable, participants will:
1) Discuss current interpretations of culture in migration research.
2) Identify key cultural inequalities migrant families and youths confront and how they cope with these, by drawing from research on a) cultural appropriation of migrants’ rituals and symbols; b) the experience of othering and its emotional implications; c) how families and youths cope with being represented as “culturally deprived” and with cultural invisibility; d) having disadvantaged access to embodied cultural practices such as sports, dance, arts; e) the role of material culture in constructing key moments of identification.
3) Critically reflect on how researchers and practitioners interpret cultural inequalities and the methodological and reflexive practices needed to avoid reproducing victim-blaming and essentialising discourses.

Ultimately, participants will foreground the concept of culture in understanding the refractive lens of researchers and practitioners and their commitment to acting pro-actively and morally upon the cultural inequalities of migrant families and youth.

Dahinden J. & Korteweg, A. C. (2022). Culture as politics in contemporary migration contexts: the in/visibilization of power relations. Ethnic and Racial Studies.
Dowling, F. (2020). A critical discourse analysis of a local enactment of sport for integration policy: Helping young refugees or self-help for voluntary sports clubs? International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 55(8): 1152-1166.
Grillo, R. (2003). Cultural Essentialism and Cultural Anxiety. Anthropological Theory, 3(2): 157-173.
Hammersley, M. (2019). The Concept of Culture. A History and Reappraisal. Palgrave Pivot.
Hannerz, U. (1992). Cultural Complexity: Studies in the Social Organization of Meaning. Columbia University Press.
Malkki, L.H. (1995). Purity and exile: violence, memory, and national cosmology among Hutu refugees in Tanzania. University of Chicago Press.
Schinkel, W. (2013). The Imagination of ‘Society’ in Measurements of Immigrant Integration. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 36(7): 1142-1161.
Period3 Jul 20236 Jul 2023
Event typeConference
Conference number20
LocationWarsaw, PolandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational