The massive flux of refugees and forced migrants into the European area problematizes the knowledge framework of social theories, deconstructing many of the traditional explanatory categories and requiring a rethinking. The new migration geographies change the social experience of space and question, in particular, the ways in which the social sciences have imagined the “spatiality”: border, place, city, countryside, landscape, belonging.
As concerns international migrations the last decade recorded an intensity and an impact equal to an entire century for disruptions and for the uncertain prospects rising at the horizon: a more complex geographic distribution; the effects of the economic crisis; the reduction of migrants which seek jobs, in contrast with the increase of migrants’ arrivals pushed by geopolitical upheavals (“Arab spring”, the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Libya and the Horn of Africa, the Russian-Ukrainian conflicts…). Especially in Europe, where the paradigm of migration is largely built on the assumption of the “state-centrism”, the territories turn into a clutch plane between the borders of the “Schengen Fortress” and the migration flows from various sources, not without new forms of nationalism.
In this framework internal contradictions emerge within the European borders that pose some questions: what place is Europe today, in relation to the migration issue? How can we rethink migration when globalization, mobility and transnationalism are an integral part of migration? How do we reconfigure our views about spaces and places, institutional and non-institutional actors, central and local governments?
Certainly Europe maintains a central role in the global logic of migration processes. However, we are in the presence of different narratives, heterogeneous processes of re-territorialization in different places – both in urban and in rural areas – which give rise to different political trajectories and forms of reception. In the complex structure of the European migration system the phenomenon can be traced back to some main elements: poles of emigration and immigration, diaspora processes, seasonal mobility, transit areas, humanitarian corridors. Above all, it is the case to reflect on the changes that the presence/absence of different social actors determines not only in the arriving places, but in the places abandoned by migrants. Hence the need to argue along several scales, proceeding through multiple interpretations and with empirical investigations there where the changes caused by migrations begin to become apparent: entrance into migrants’ shelters, access to labor market, housing clusters, use of public spaces in the integration mechanisms and so on.
Beyond the emergency logic, it appears inevitable to rethink of this new migration system by means of original themes and perspectives and, above all, through case studies that are not limited to swell the ranks of a “gray literature” made of mere reporting of flows.
In a trans-scalar logic, it becomes imperative to look at the places keeping in mind the global context, the political levels of decision making, the local contexts, the borders…
In this sense, we encourage contributions that can improve the cognitive framework both through a critical examination of mainstream analytical categories and proposing new ones. At the same time, we call for case studies that mirror the most recent processes and propose new analysis tools, with an eye to the redefinition of the places. This special issue of “Fuori Luogo” aims at contributing to the discussion of a field of study still in progress, developing key concepts that bind together the latest analytical perspectives on migration and include new views in the current debate. Led by the experience of the Editors and the editorial board, the journal will publish articles of general interest from all over the world. For this reason, the Editors of this special issue invite scholars to join the call, summarizing their proposal in a long abstract.