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Against Complicity: Rethinking the Temporalities and Spatialities of Migration Scholarship for Our Times

January 22, 2019 @ 9:30 am - 11:30 am

The study of migration in a hypermobile world is an urgent and compelling endeavour that hastens to comprehend the complexity and scale of contemporary human movement. Amidst the turbid currents that propel migration scholarship this presentation calls for reflection on the ethical investments and spatio-temporal modalities of migration research. Through a discussion of Australia’s early twenty-first century shift to temporary migration, Dr. Koleth examines how migration scholarship becomes complicit in the reproduction of the nation-state. Using feminist, postcolonial and critical border studies approaches, she uses this moment of ethical accounting for complicity as a space for rethinking the temporalities and spatialities of migration research. Drawing from her analysis of interviews conducted with temporary migrants from India in Sydney, Australia, firstly Dr. Koleth critically examines the way in which the intractable ‘presentism’ of migration research fails to capture the dissonant temporalities that migrants navigate as they move across borders. Secondly, she examines the limitations of methodological nationalism that continue to shape analyses of migration, and highlight possibilities for rescaling our spatial imaginaries with reference to migrants’ effective and embodied attempts to commensurate the spaces they move across.

About the speaker

Elsa Koleth is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the City Institute at York University, Toronto, where she is working on the SSHRC Partnership Project, ‘Urbanization, gender and the global south: a transformative knowledge network (GenUrb)’ (PI: Professor Linda Peake). Elsa completed her doctoral dissertation, titled, ‘Haunted borders: temporary migration and the recalibration of racialized belonging in Australia,’ at the University of Sydney, Australia. During her doctorate Elsa was a researcher in the Australian Research Council-funded international study ‘Social Transformation and International Migration in the Twenty-First Century,’ led by Professor Stephen Castles. Her research interests include the nexus of migration and urbanisation, shifting geographies of race and gender, spatio-temporal assemblages, and decolonizing epistemologies and methodologies.

No registration is required for this event. Refreshments will be served at 9:30 am and the talk will begin at 10:00 am. 

If you have any questions, please contact Sean Lockwood at [email protected]


January 22, 2019
9:30 am - 11:30 am


In Person
Balsillie School of International Affairs, 67 Erb Street West
Waterloo, ON N2L 6C2 Canada
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(226) 772-3001
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