MMB Blog

Welcome to the MMB Blog. This series provides a chance to hear from members of MMB and our close collaborators on research ideas, projects and publications.

Following the onset of the pandemic we published our blog weekly from May to September 2020. It became a key forum for us to connect with members and document the impact of COVID-19 on the study of migration and mobilities. In early April, Bridget reflected on the injustices highlighted by the coronavirus regarding global immigration systems in her posts ‘No more “back to normal”- “normal” was the problem’ and ‘Lessons we’ve learned from COVID so far’. These led to our blog series ‘Letter from Afar’, in which fellow researchers from across the world told us about their experience of doing research in these extraordinary times.

During the summer of 2020 we also started a new blog on migration and mobilities in Latin America, with contributions from scholars and activists across the region as well as from Bristol. Posts from this series can be found on the MMB Latin America website.

Published blogs:

  • Tony Bunyan retires as Director of Statewatch after 30 years
    Statewatch is a unique resource for migration researchers across Europe. It has an unprecedented collection of official documents, analysis and reports by investigative journalists, which serves to monitor state and civil liberties. Over the past 30 years, many academics, students, government officials, journalists and civil liberties groups have come to rely on it. The organisation […]
  • MMB Annual Report 2019-20
    A message from the MMB team. The past year has been a busy and productive time for MMB – though not in the way we imagined! Last week we published our Annual Report, which outlines our approach to migration and mobilities research as well as our activities over the past year, our ongoing objectives and […]
  • Domestic workers and COVID-19: Brazil’s legacy of slavery lives on
    By Rachel Randall. On 19 March it was confirmed that Rio de Janeiro’s first coronavirus-related death was that of Cleonice Gonçalves, a 63-year-old domestic worker who suffered from co-morbidities. When Gonçalves fell ill on 16 March, she was working at her boss’ apartment in the affluent neighbourhood of Leblon, in the city of Rio. Her […]
  • From imperial sugar to golden passports: the Citizenship Industry
    By Sarah Kunz. In a surprising turn of events, September 2020 saw the end of Malta’s citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programme and its conversion into a residence-by-investment (RBI) scheme. CBI schemes allow the acquisition of citizenship regardless of regular naturalisation criteria, such as residence or language skills, in return for a payment to a government fund or […]
  • Supporting LGBTQ+ asylum seekers through the UK asylum courts
    By Tannith Perry I am a volunteer with Pride Without Borders (PWB), a support group for LGBTQ+ refugees and people seeking asylum run by Bristol Refugee Rights (BRR). Part of my role is to attend asylum court with our members, both as a witness and to provide emotional support. The route to gaining asylum in […]
  • Somatic shifts: the politics of movement in the time of COVID
    Letter from Afar – the blog series about life and research in the time of COVID-19. By Victoria Hattam. Dispatch from Brooklyn, NY.September 2020 COVID-19 has returned questions of migration and mobility to the centre of politics by upending the distribution of mobility privileges. Who is allowed – or required – to move is changing; […]
  • Kept apart – couples and families separated by the UK immigration system
    By Katharine Charsley In the wake of the report into the Windrush scandal, in which Commonwealth citizens legally resident in the UK for decades were wrongly treated as irregular migrants and denied basic rights, Secretary of State Priti Patel has announced her intention to work towards a ‘fair, humane, compassionate and outward-looking Home Office’, which […]
  • Disposable workers, essential work: migrant farmworkers during the COVID pandemic
    By Manoj Dias-Abey. In July I co-organised a webinar on the situation of migrant farmworkers with Tomaso Ferrando (University of Antwerp) and Brid Brennan (Transnational Institute). We wanted to explore how the working and living conditions of migrant farmworkers during the COVID-19 pandemic merely represented a more acute form of marginalisation experienced in so-called normal […]
  • Migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Greece during COVID-19
    Letter from Afar – the blog series about life and research in the time of COVID-19. By Theodoros Fouskas. Dear friends, I hope you are staying safe and keeping well. The first COVID-19 case was diagnosed in Greece on 26th February 2020 (National Public Health Organization, 2020a). As subsequent cases in late February and early […]
  • Legislative update for EU migration and asylum statistics – work in progress
    By Ann Singleton As the UK leaves the European Union, a legislative change will update the EU framework for the collection of migration and asylum statistics. This might receive little attention outside the specialist focus of academics or policy makers, but it is important for anyone with an interest in migration trends, analysis and policy […]
  • No longer welcome: migrants face growing racism in South Korea
    Letter from Afar – the blog series about life and research in the time of COVID-19. By Minjae Shin. Dear friends I hope you all are staying safe and keeping well. It has been almost five months since I left Bristol. I am currently in South Korea, my country of origin. Many migrants, including international […]
  • From ‘social distancing’ to planetary solidarity
    Letter from Afar – the blog series about life and research in the time of COVID-19. By Nandita Sharma. Greetings from Hawai’i! Reading Colin’s blog from the ‘afar’ of Bristol has made me think about distance, and the (dis)connections between physical and social distancing. We are physically far apart, but, I like to think, socially […]
  • Life in lockdown – an asylum seeker’s struggle to survive
    My name is Maria*. I am an asylum-seeker single-mother who escaped to the UK because I felt unsafe in my home country. I arrived in the UK two years ago. It was hard for me because I am a single mother of two kids. Initially, the accommodation and support I received as an asylum-seeker were horrible. I had to share a house with strangers who liked to drink alcohol […]
  • Black Lives Matter – whatever their nationality
    By Bridget Anderson. On 19th June 2020 the European Parliament voted to declare ‘Black Lives Matter’. The same European Parliament that last October voted AGAINST supporting more search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean; the same European Parliament that has voted through Economic Partnership Agreements that have ruined Black small-scale producers through exposing them to […]
  • Unemployment and xenophobia persist for migrant workers as China’s lockdown is lifted
    Letter from Afar – the blog series about life and research in the time of COVID-19. By Xinrong Ma. Dear friends, I hope this letter finds you all very well. The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic first broke out in China at the end of last year, then rapidly spread around the globe. While people in many […]
  • On being a space invader: negotiating whiteness in education
    By Evelyn Miller. I am a first-year sociology student at the University of Bristol, and a mixed South Asian woman, my mum being of Malaysian and Mauritian descent and my dad being of English and Irish descent. This blog sketches out the troubles I have experienced in white-majority educational institutions to show why it’s important […]
  • Are transnational marriages bad for integration?
    By Sarah Spencer The belief that marriage partners from less developed countries are bad for ‘integration’ is firmly held by European policy makers. With pressure to curb immigration, that concern has conveniently justified raising the bar for spouses to enter. Marriage Migration and Integration (2020) interrogates that assumption with substantial evidence from an ESRC-funded study […]
  • Sweden faces COVID-19 with a neoliberal elderly care system and a racialised labour market
    Letter from Afar – the blog series about life and research in the time of COVID-19. By Anders Neergaard. Dear friends, Reading newspapers every day and strolling around the streets and parks of Malmö (Sweden) I watch people trying to live with the pandemic. It’s scary as a human being but interesting as a sociologist. […]
  • The dismal UK Home Office response to coronavirus: the wider picture
    Letter from Afar – the blog series about life and research in the time of COVID-19. By Colin Yeo. Dear Bridget, We’ve learned that closeness does not mean contact, so I hope that this can count as a ‘Letter from Afar’ even if ‘afar’ seems a strangely 19th-century way of talking about the distance between […]
  • Migrants abandoned – lockdown at the Mexican-Guatemalan border
    Letter from Afar – the blog series about life and research in the time of COVID-19. By Ailsa Winton. Dear Bridget I hope you are keeping well and sane. Although working at home is quite normal for me, the anxiety is not. So it was great to read your letter and to be able to […]
  • A violent disregard for life: COVID-19 in Brazil
    Letter from Afar – the blog series about life and research in the time of COVID-19. By Angelo Martins Junior. Dear friends Two months ago the governor of São Paulo decreed a state of emergency and social isolation measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, I was in São Paulo, conducting fieldwork for […]
  • Research in extraordinary times
    Bridget Anderson introduces our new blog series, Letter from Afar, in which we invite colleagues from across the world to tell us about their life and work in times of COVID-19. Answers welcome! Dear Friends, I hope you are well – COVID-19 has turned that platitude into a genuine wish – I truly hope you […]
  • The relevance of luxuries during a global pandemic
    By Tamar Hodos  In these extraordinary times, I have made a contribution to society by providing a timely news story that does not involve the current global pandemic. This is the results of a study that forms part of my ongoing research into the production, distribution and socio-cultural significance of luxuries in past globalising contexts. […]
  • Lessons we’ve learned from COVID so far
    By Bridget Anderson  Far from being ‘all in it together’ COVID-19 is exposing the mechanisms that promote and maintain inequality within as well as between states. In the UK, Sweden and the USA, among other countries, evidence is emerging that Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people are disproportionately likely to catch and die from coronavirus. […]
  • No more ‘back to normal’ – ‘normal’ was the problem. Thoughts on corona
    By Bridget Anderson  We are facing an unprecedented challenge and opportunity that we are not simply observing as social scientists but experiencing at personal, institutional and professional levels. We are living a natural experiment whose reagents include multiple types of mobilities, clashing across different scales. The COVID virus is a human infection of animal origin, […]
  • Filling the legal aid gap
    By Ella Barclay An asylum seeker’s future can rest upon the translation of a single word. One such case was a man whose refugee status was rejected in the UK because he told the Home Office he had travelled to the Turkish border in a “taxi” but later used the word “private car”. The asylum […]
  • A moment of opportunity? Britain and the maritime security challenge
    By Tim Edmunds and Scott Edwards On 28 February 2020, SafeSeas hosted an IdeasLab in Bristol on UK maritime security after Brexit, with the kind support of PolicyBristol, Migration Mobilities Bristol, and the Bristol Global Insecurities Centre. Titled ‘Securing Britain’s Seas’, the goal of the day was to ask how maritime insecurities and blue crimes […]
  • Climate-change displacement: a step closer to human rights protection
    By Ignacio Odriozola  On 20th January this year the United Nations Human Rights Committee (Committee) released a landmark decision on people seeking international protection due to the effects of climate change. The decision did not include specific guidance as to where the tipping point lies, but it nevertheless remains highly relevant to future similar potential […]
  • New writing on race, migration and forgetting
    By Bridget Anderson  As another shameful deportation charter flight has just left for Jamaica, I wanted to reflect on three books I’ve read recently that connect to this horror in different ways. The first is a short book by David Andress called Cultural Dementia (Apollo 2019). Andress is a historian and as he wrote the […]
  • Eritrea and Human Rights: Conflict and Mobility
    By Angelo Martins Junior In November we held a panel and photographic exhibition on ‘Eritrea and Human Rights: Conflict and Mobility’ at the University of Bristol. Through these talks and images we explored the grave human rights violations faced by Eritreans at home and on their journeys of escape, and the continuing rights violations they […]
  • MMB in 2020 – forging new partnerships
    Happy New Year from the MMB team! We have exciting plans for 2020 as MMB continues to develop its dynamic research remit and build an ever-stronger community of scholars. Our four research challenges are running a range of workshops, seminars and networking events in the coming months, which will showcase the breadth of approaches to […]
  • Bristol Colombia Week 2019: Truth-seeking and the Colombian Diaspora
    By Mary Ryder Three years on from the negotiated peace agreement between the FARC-EP and the Colombian state, MMB co-hosted members of the Colombian Truth Commission (CTC) to participate in ‘Truth, Memory and Diaspora: The Seeds of Peace in Colombia’, a week of transnational dialogue and collaboration between UK and Colombian institutions.  The University of […]
  • ‘So far from justice’: On the frontline of the Hostile Environment
    By Natasha Carver ‘Esther, can you see Amir. He’s been refused Section 95 support …’ ‘Samira, I need you to do an urgent HC1 for this chap with kidney failure …’ ‘Mariana, we’ve got a young boy off a lorry just turned up. He has nothing. He’s with Muna in the main hall just now […]
  • The hostile environment confuses unlawful with undocumented, with disastrous consequences
    By Colin Yeo If a policy that deprives residents of jobs, homes and money is going to be introduced, one would hope it would be targeted using the best available data with strong failsafe mechanisms in place to reverse any errors. It would, you would have thought, be a disaster if innocent individuals ended up […]
  • Cross-border marriage in South Korea
    By Minjae Shin ‘Getting married to Vietnamese/China/Philippines/Uzbekistan woman – If for any reason you’re not satisfied with our service, a 100% satisfaction guarantee.’ This eye-catching phrase is from the website of international marriage brokers in South Korea. My research journey started with this advertisement. Until a few decades ago, the segment of marriage migration that […]
  • Better Legal and Social Support Needed for LGBTQI+ People Seeking Asylum in Germany
    By Mengia Tschalaer and Nina Held  LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum in Germany often remain invisible and unrecognized within Germany’s asylum system unless they specifically come forward and out themselves. Our new report shows that better visibility and access to legal and social support is needed for this group of asylum seekers. The German Lesbian and […]
  • Being at sea: a FUTURES event at the SS Great Britain
    By Laurence Publicover At FUTURES, an evening held recently at the SS Great Britain in Bristol as part of a Europe-wide series of events celebrating academic research, I spoke to families about the experience of being at sea. What is it like, we pondered, to spend days – or even weeks – without sight of […]
  • MMB reflects on the past year
    By Bridget Anderson, Emma Newcombe and Emily Walmsley In the run up to our second MMB AGM we thought we’d take the chance to showcase migration related research in Bristol, reflect on our past year’s work as a Specialist Research Institute and discuss plans for future development by writing an annual report.  At this stage […]
  • ‘Stop talking; listen to me first!’ Fieldwork in India
    By Pankhuri Agarwal Fieldwork research has a significant effect on one’s mental, emotional and physical well-being. However, it is astonishing that not much time, space and attention is devoted to exploring, learning and deliberating upon the variety of fieldwork experience that goes undocumented in academic work including on topics such as gender bias and mansplaining; […]
  • Workshop on image-making in migration research and campaigns
    By Nariman Massoumi The first event of MMB’s Imagination, Belonging, Futures Research Challenge took place on Tuesday 2 July at the Department of Film and Television, University of Bristol. Focusing on the topic of ‘image-making in migration research and campaigns’, the aim of the workshop was to consider the uses of photographic images of refugees […]
  • MMB hosts the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants
    By Diego Acosta, Bridget Anderson and Lindsey Pike On 3 July 2019, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, Professor Felipe González, visited the University of Bristol. The event was organized by Migration Mobilities Bristol (MMB) with funding from PolicyBristol. Here we outline the scope of his work and focus of his […]
  • Conforming to stereotypes to gain asylum in Germany
    By Mengia Tschalaer LGBTQI+ Muslims seeking asylum are more successful if they speak, dress and act in accordance with Western notions of homosexuality. My work recently published in the Journal Ethnic and Racial Studies, has found that LGBTQI+ asylum applicants reported they were often expected to be “flamboyant” and “outspoken” in their asylum interview, and […]
  • Memorials to people who have died and to those missing during migration
    Reflections on the first WUN-funded workshop By Martin Preston, University of Bristol Since 2014, the deaths of more than 32,000 migrants have been recorded globally (IOM, 2019). The true number is certainly far higher. A lack of documentation, other means of identification or the willingness or ability to do so means that many of those […]
  • Everyday Integration
    By Bridget Anderson The new Conservative leader, Boris Johnson, during the July hustings in Darlington complained that, ‘There are too many too often there are parts of our country and parts of London still and other cities as well where English is not spoken by some people as their first language, and that needs to […]
  • Arts against racism and borders
    By Pier Luc Dupont The first workshop of the MMB research challenge Bodies, Borders, Justice, entitled Arts against racism and borders, was held in the evening of the past 13 May. A dozen academics from arts and humanities, policy studies, sociology and law gathered in the welcoming Verdon Smith Room overlooking the Royal Fort Gardens […]
  • Language as a component of integration
    By Tom Dixon (ACH Senior Project Officer) and Pier-Luc Dupont from MMB On 16th April, ACH and Migration Mobilities Bristol (MMB, University of Bristol) hosted the third in the series of joint workshops, this time on the topic of Language. Tom Dixon, Senior Project Officer and Rachel Sharp, Support and Integration Team Leader presented from […]
  • SMart solutions for the self-employed beyond the ‘British Way’
    By Harry Pitts At first glance the UK’s current record of job creation seems impressive. But the numbers conceal more than they reveal. Self-employment represents an increasing amount of new jobs. Among these number those who have sought out self-employment to enjoy more freedom in where, how and when they work. But alongside them co-exist […]
  • Collaborating to improve responses to migration: Employment and the labour market
    By David Jepson (ACH) and Bridget Anderson Huge changes to the labour market are underway, and digitisation is changing how people are recruited and the kind of work they do, not least in phenomenon of the gig economy.  Can these changes benefit refugees and migrants and if so, how? These issues were discussed in the […]
  • Risky Relationships
    By Katharine Charsley, University of Bristol and Emma Agusita, University of of the West of England The Risky Relationships workshop, held at the Arnolfini on 27th & 28th March 2019, aimed to explore the navigation of immigration regulation in family and intimate relationships from a variety of perspectives. The event invited participants to view the contemporary landscape of […]
  • Globalising Luxuries in the Ancient World
    By Tamar Hodos Factors addressed in the Trade, labour, capital challenge were of tremendous importance in the ancient world, just as they are today. The Globalising Luxuries project is a collaboration between Bristol University and the British Museum to explore the production and distribution of luxury objects around the wider ancient Mediterranean world. It seeks […]
  • New Thinking on Integration, Employment and Language
    By Bridget Anderson and David Jepson (ACH) Academics have a lot to learn from people who are on the frontline. Migration Mobilities Bristol (MMB) can, for example, learn from people who speak from their personal and organisational experiences of immigration controls and the hostile environment. We also believe that academics have something to offer in […]
  • Brexit and migration: our new research highlights fact-free news coverage
    By Denny Pencheva Immigration anxieties played a significant role in British people’s decision in June 2016 to vote to leave the EU. This has fuelled a debate over the quality of media reporting on migration issues. In order to get a better idea of the role the media played, we examined nearly 1,000 news items, feature articles and […]
  • Talking Trafficking With Sex Worker and LGBTQ Voices From Jamaica
    By Julia O’Connell Davidson With funding from the British Academy under its “Tackling slavery, human trafficking and child labour in modern business” programme, Jacqueline Sanchez Taylor (University of Leicester), Katie Cruz (University of Bristol) and I have been involved in research on exploitation and violence in sex work and other forms of tourism-related labour in […]
  • Welcome to the MMB Blog!
    And welcome to Migration Mobilities Bristol! For those of you who do not know us yet we are a Specialist Research Institute at the University of Bristol. We comprise a network of academics, practitioners and others who are interested in human movement and who want to expand and challenge understandings of mobility in order to contribute […]