Migration from Africa has become a highly polarised and contentious topic in Europe. This roundtable discusses such (mis-)representation of African migration in the media and the responsibilities and roles of researchers in deconstructing any misconceptions.
Hardly a day goes by without a sensationalist story in newspapers, TV and radio all over Europe about African migrants coming to and staying in Europe. These stories are linked to predicted population booms, wars, and climate changes as root causes for such movements. Solutions are reported as being tied to externalising borders, further securitisation and increasingly through development projects, many funded by the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. Yet scholars have long criticised such approaches, not least the ethical conundrums of securitized approaches and the complexities of the migration-development nexus. Nonetheless, media representations rarely highlight positive journeys of migratory journeys, circular mobility or intra-African migration. In an era where 'experts' and 'truth' have become increasingly polarised, this roundtable asks where do we as researchers position ourselves in relation to such a politically contentious topic? Do we have a moral obligation or responsibility to speak out to the general public about our work, highlighting the complexities of migration journeys and circumstances? With which audiences and through which channels should we engage? What language can and do we use in order to contribute to and reason with public debate? How can journalist better engage with researchers? This roundtable will gather researchers,an activist and a journalist to discuss how this can be done in order to deconstruct common misconceptions on African migration. Panelists: Oliver Bakewell (University of Manchester), Heaven Crawley (University of Conventry), Louise Hunt (Freelance Journalist), Robtel Neajai Pailey (Oxford University, scholar and activist)