Call for letters of intent to host IASFM20 Conference in 2024

Due to the COVID-19 virus, the IASFM Executive Committee has postponed our IASFM18 conference in Accra, Ghana to July 2021. Consequently, we are also postponing the deadline for letters of intent to host the IASFM20 conference, to be held in 2024. The new deadline is still to be determined, but will not be until 2021.

Dear IASFM members and supporters,

We look forward to seeing many of you in July in Accra, Ghana for the IASFM18 conference. At our General Meeting in Ghana, we will hear updates on the IASFM19 conference from our hosts in Brazil, which will be held in 2022. At that time, we would also like to discuss bids for the IASFM20 conference, to be held in 2024.

On behalf of the IASFM Executive Committee, we invite you to submit a letter of intent if you are interested in hosting the 2024 meeting. Letters of intent are only a brief (2-3 page) expression of interest and should be submitted by April 17th, 2020 to Michele Millard at the IASFM Secretariat ( Criteria to address in the letter of intent include: 

  • Proposed conference theme
  • Impact of forced migration issues in the region and on forced migration studies
  • Local scholars and partners whose expertise will be drawn upon
  • Member Access/visas
  • Inclusion of different stakeholders
  • Administrative capacity
  • Estimated budget 

The IASFM ExCom will review the letters and invite the most promising letters of intent to work with us in developing full proposals, with a submission deadline of June 30th, 2020.

The ExCom will review the full proposals, issue recommendations and, after their presentation at the General Meeting, will have the proposals available online for a vote by the full membership 

For questions about the process, or if you would like more information about what is typically involved in hosting an IASFM conference, please send an email to any of the following IASFM Executive Committee Officers:

Christina Clark-Kazak, President,
Nasreen Chowdhory, Vice President, 
Idil Atak, Secretary,
Michele Millard, Secretariat,

We look forward to working with you on selecting our venue for the IASFM conference in 2024! 

IASFM18: Call for Contributions

Disrupting Theory, Unsettling Practice: Towards Transformative Forced Migration Scholarship and Policy

University of Ghana, Accra

27th – 30th July 2020


Please note that the deadline for submissions has now closed.


We are living in turbulent times within which the issue of forced migration and the subject of ‘the refugee’ have become deeply symbolic of broader processes of political, economic and social change. This is reflected in the politicization of migration by countries in both the Global North and South. Against this backdrop, scholars and advocates working with and for refugees and other forced migrants, as well as refugees themselves, are increasingly struggling to get their voices heard and to mobilise effectively. Whilst there are many initiatives globally these have struggled to become more than the sum of their parts. Moreover whilst the objective of decolonising forced migration research remains an important project, it faces significant new challenges, not least the unequal power relations associated with funding made available via the institutions of the Global North for research and practice in the Global South, much of which is orientated towards containment agendas. The current migration research landscape is heavily skewed towards the Global North where existing research is largely designed and led, and where governments and international organisations increasingly fund research to inform policy development. The Global North’s interests shape dominant research themes, producing a disproportionate focus on South-North migration (SNM) and categories of migrant defined in law and policy to make sense of – and increasingly contain – migration flows. Epistemic communities concerned with migration are largely produced and reproduced in and by the Global North: while ODA-recipient countries host a growing number of research centres, most researchers are trained in the Global North. The resulting echo chamber constrains the capacity of many of the poorest countries to analyse the migration issues that affect their communities without outside technical assistance and expertise. This requires us to ask ourselves challenging questions about the focus of our academic endeavours, the ways in which we work together and our engagement with those we want to influence, most notably policy makers, politicians and a wide range of publics.

The title of IASFM18 – ‘Disrupting Theory, Unsettling Practice: Towards Transformative Forced Migration Scholarship and Policy’ – represents an attempt to engage forced migration scholars and others directly in addressing these questions. The conference will be organised around a number of key underpinning principles which will shape the content of the programme, the nature of the contributions and a range of other activities taking place before and after the conference to ensure that IASFM18 is part of a process rather than a time-limited event:

  • Key note and plenary sessions will include the voices and perspectives of scholars, policy makers, artists and displaced people working in the Global South;
  • Space will be created within the programme for new and emerging scholars to be heard and for their work to be supported;
  • Refugees and other displaced populations will be directly involved in the programme design and delivery as scholars, artists and people directly affected by the issues under discussion, including through activities that will be developed with local refugee communities in the period leading up, and beyond IASFM18; and
  • The format of the conference will allow for a wide range of contributions to be fully included: creative and artistic representations, debates and discussions as well as more ‘traditional’ academic papers.


The conference will run over three and a half days and will consist of four keynotes, three plenary discussions and thirty parallel sessions, providing an opportunity for a wide range of contribution and participants from different backgrounds and geographical contexts. Part of the conference programme will be organised and run by Liberian refugees living in the nearby Buduburam camp. A full conference programme will be available shortly.


The Organising Committee for IASFM18 invite contributions that address the cross-cutting themes of knowledge production, category construction and representation. Contributions should critically engage with dominant conceptualisations of forced migration/refugees as a ‘problem’ to be solved by global elites, instead developing approaches that fuse the critical and the creative and which integrate theoretical rigor and policy concerns with refugees’ rich and complicated experiences. We are particularly interested in contributions that examine the dynamics of knowledge production in relation to issues of forced migration and concomitant methodological challenges including/reflecting relationships between researchers and the researched, between researchers from the Global South and North, and between researchers and policy-makers. Case studies/examples from the Global South of the ways in which scholars and practitioners from the Global South are able to shape research and policy agendas, are particularly welcome. Examples of topics that may be explored in relationship to the conference themes include:

  • Representations of ‘the refugee’;
  • The political economy and ethics of knowledge production in forced migration research;
  • Innovative and inclusive methodologies in researching displacement and belonging;
  • The legacy and implications of the Global Compact on Refugees;
  • Regional responses to displacement in Africa;
  • Refugee protection in countries that are not signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention;
  • The protection of refugees in Europe;
  • The relationship between forced migration and inequality;
  • The relationship between development programs, refugee protection and removal;
  • Protracted displacement;
  • (Re)conceptualising internal displacement; and
  • Forced migration and environmental change.



Ghana provides visa free access for all those travelling from other West African countries and a few countries outside West Africa, including Kenya and Singapore. Citizens of African Union countries (except Morocco) and many countries outside Africa are able to obtain a 30 day visa for Ghana upon arrival for a fee $150. Further information about visas to Ghana can be found here. The Centre for Migration Studies will provide letters of invitation where required to enable speakers and participants to travel to Ghana.


Funding for travel subsidies will be very limited and will be restricted to those who will be presenting at the conference. We strongly encourage participants to look for funding support from other sources. The application is available online:


The Organising Committee welcomes contributions to IASFM18 which fit the overarching conferences themes. Whilst we will accept individual papers, our preference is for panel sessions of 1.5 hours. The slot allocated for a panel session time can be used in any way you choose e.g. paper presentations, panel discussion, roundtables, workshops, open debate, performance –  or indeed a combination! If you would like our assistance in devising a panel, please contact the ESPMI Network at who will endeavour to connect you with others who are interested in contributing on a similar theme/issue in order that you can develop your collective panel proposal.

The deadline for submissions is now closed.

You will receive a decision about whether your contribution has been accepted by the end of February 2020.

Please note that decisions about the final conference programme will be underpinned by equality principles, ensuring opportunities for a wide range of speakers and participants from different backgrounds provided that their proposed contribution is consistent with the conference objectives and reaches a minimum quality threshold. Particular care will be taken to ensure that early career researchers, scholars working in the Global South and those working across a range of geographical and organisational contexts are able to participate.

IASFM Statement against Xenophobic and Anti-refugee Discourse and Practice

January 22, 2019

Since its founding in 1998, the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration has worked to promote, increase, and deepen scientific knowledge about forced migration, as well as to guarantee the rights of human beings in movement and the pursuit of durable solutions, through a horizontal dialogue among academics, practitioners, activists, and policy makers from around the world.

IASFM expresses its deep concern for the global rise of a political discourse that characterizes refugees, internally displaced persons, and migrants as threats to peace and security. And we are profoundly troubled by migration and refugee policies that have unreasonably restricted, mobility, constructed new barriers between nations, and criminalized migration. The United States, traditionally the world’s leader in refugee resettlement, has drastically limited refugee admissions, banned Syrian refugees from entering the country and incarcerated thousands of migrant children, many of whom are in need of international protection. Countries of Europe have externalized enforcement of their borders, subjected children and families to harsh detention practices, and have entered into agreements with other states that limit protections for forced migrants. These measures, many of which are inconsistent with international norms and notions of fundamental justice, are often fueled and supported by inflammatory and xenophobic discourse.

It is not only in the richest countries that refugees and forced migrants are the victims of unjust practices and spurious rhetoric. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people permitted to enter Bangladesh have been confined in grossly inadequate refugee camps, and other South Asian countries have refused to participate in any form of burden-sharing. In Latin America, in recent years tens of thousands of people have left their home countries fleeing violence. States deny protection to many of these people and also fail to act against the criminal gangs and organizations that take advantage of the extreme vulnerability of these populations.

IASFM calls upon States to honor their commitments under human rights law, international refugee Iaw, and customary international law. These include respect of the mandatory norms of non-refoulement and non-discrimination and special concern for the protection of women and children. States that are not signatories to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol are nonetheless bound by these fundamental human rights principles. 

IASFM invites academics, practitioners, and policy makers to individually and collectively fight against xenophobic and anti-refugee discourse and practice, to work on the prevention of the root causes of forced migration, to find new ways to reach durable and sustainable solutions, and, above all, to build bridges and dismantle walls.