Mahanirban Calcutta Research group


Global Protection of Refugees and Migrants in 2022

Concept Note

Global Protection of Refugees and Migrants in 2022

Concept Note 



The agenda for 2022 emerges from the constructive interventions made by CRG during the past few years in the field of research and public activism related to issues of migration, forced migration, human rights, justice, dignity, and peace. It derives sustenance from CRG’s dedication, in recent years, to the particular study of migration and refugee flows. The Kolkata Declaration, adopted during CRG’s Third Annual Research and Orientation Workshop and Conference in 2018, articulated its perspective on the relevant issues. The Sixth Annual Research and Orientation Workshop and Conference in November issued an appeal for justice and a coherent protection policy for refugees and migrants of Afghanistan. It has been signed by eighty signatories from eighteen countries.

The Annual Orientation Workshop and conference in this way continues to provide a concrete manifesto which can guide the organisation’s work shortly. The two Declarations (2018 and 2021) emphasize the importance of a holistic understanding of the present refugee and migrant crises. The workshop and conference also underline the importance of paying simultaneous attention to the different categories of migrants, pointing out the similarities between these categories, the consequent phenomenon of “mixed and massive population flows”, and the reality that stateless populations face in the form of immediate danger of displacement, total disenfranchisement, and a situation of basic “rightlessness”. CRG’s engagement is also underlined by its realisation that most of the population groups dispossessed of rights belong to the labouring classes of society, and that informal migrant workers form the overwhelming part of refugees and migrants. This perspective will continue to inform CRG’s symbiotic relationship with the world of migration theory and practice. The overall situation is now marked by wars and environmental degradation which lead to greater forced population flows. Founded on its past work, CRG, in the coming year aims to explore and identify alternative knowledge(s) from the everyday life of migrants, refugees, and stateless persons who are victims of wars, conflicts, developmental disasters, and environmental catastrophes.

As in previous years, South Asia and the broader region of the Asian continent will remain the context in which CRG will deploy these ideas, seeking to learn lessons and best practices which could then be advocated for implementation either in the region singularly or, even, globally.

Global protection of the migrants and victims of forced migration will remain the general theme of CRG’s work in this field.

Nourished by the above vision, it is proposed that CRG’s activities during 2022 will have four components:

(a) Annual winter workshop and conference;

(b) Research segment;

(c) Preparation of a compendium of Key words in Refugee and Migration Studies; and

(d) A creative segment around media.

a) Annual Research and Orientation Workshop and Conference on Global Protection of Refugees and Migrants:

This annual residential event—comprising a four-day workshop and a two-day conference—is the core of CRG’s annual programme. The event continues to provide a cosmopolitan (while rooted in South Asian experience) platform that brings together young researchers and experts for an intense deliberation on the emerging issues in the global protection of refugees and migrants. The workshop interspersed with lectures by experts is featured by deliberations and face to face discussions among scholar-activists in the form of working groups. The aim is to foster among young researcher-activists the intellectual capacity to cope with the common task of articulating the prevailing challenges in the protection regime. Succeeding the 4-day workshop the 2-day conference, led by reputed academics and practitioners, then probes these challenges further so as to allow the participants—in particular the young researchers—a formidable understanding of the discipline. Between 2022 and 2024, the event will see its seventh, eighth and ninth installments. In 2021, CRG took the innovative step to provide individual guidance to the young researchers in the form of regular meetings and discussions with an assigned tutor in the form of long-distance working group (module) meetings in the months preceding the November workshop. This mentoring will be continued and developed in the coming years. The pedagogic innovations will continue.

The structure of the workshop and conference and the thematic orientation (six module themes) of the November workshop and conference in 2021 will be retained.

The task now before CRG is to further expand and increasingly diversify the entire programme to further enrich the outcomes. Towards this end, CRG will broaden the area of its focus and extend the reach of the event to other parts of Asia. Further, CRG will redesign the programme along the line of 2021 by incorporating preparatory as well follow-up activities. The preparatory activities, mostly virtual, will ensure that the six days of the event are not overly hectic and will allow more contemplation and sharing of experiences during the event. As the pandemic loosens its hold, the element of field visits will return to the original design and find a place of prominence in it. Kolkata is a fertile filed on the subject of displacement and migration, and field experiences during the programme will attempt to efficiently utilise the city’s history as one that has been intimately shaped by people on the move.

There can be two ways of organizing follow up steps, which are necessary: (a) Young activist-researchers who show commitment and potential during the programme will be offered further opportunities following the programme. These opportunities may be in the form of short term fellowships, internships, or invitation to other CRG activities. Such an arrangement, whose benefits will be mutual and sustained, may be considered as a component in the funding plan. This will be based on the submission of small-scale innovative proposals. This initiative will merge with the creation of an alumni network of the programme, as well as with the larger aim of building a solidarity network. (b) There can be a follow up programme in the form of a one day or one and half day workshop in collaboration with another institution on any of the main themes of the workshop and conference. For 2022, the issue of trafficking and women refugees and migrants can be considered as the focus of such a short follow up programme. In short, towards ensuring the social transmission of alternative, critical knowledge and experiences emerging from the everyday lives of refugees and migrants, CRG will organise the follow-up activities. The goal will be to strengthen the network of scholar-activists. The annual planning meeting will decide which of the two suggested steps will be taken up in 2022.

The impact of the winter workshop has been long term. It has to be widened, the participation has to be more variegated, and it will reach greater heights only with follow up segments, variety of outputs, increased reach, and widening of the catchment area.

b) Research Segment (Research on New Challenges to the Task of Protection):

CRG’s continuing research on the global protection of refugees and migrants will underwrite the above-mentioned programme of research and orientation workshop on protection of the rights of the migrants and refugees. It will remain be a vital component of the agenda for the next three years. The journey of international refugee law from the early twentieth century to the global compacts of 2018, the evolution in the rights of refugees and migrants which resulted from that journey, and the failures in the fulfillment of those rights will remain to be of interest to CRG as it probes global, regional and national protection regimes from ethical and post-colonial angles. The study of statelessness and the South Asian context of this distressing phenomenon will be inseparably linked, as it ought to be, to the research on protection. In this context in the coming year (2022) CRG aims to -

b.1 Study the dynamics of self-organisation of refugees and migrant workers (for instance, self organisation of the Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala and Darjeeling or the Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu, or the Rohingya refugees in Jammu, or refugees from Myanmar in Northeast India, or say, migrant workers’ organisations in various parts of the country, and elsewhere in South Asia. These organisations, involving solidarity activists and refugees and migrants themselves, hold out a wealth of lived experiences as well as a substantial opportunity for the creation of an effective solidarity network. Beyond demographic or geopolitical significance, the exile experiences will be of particular interest. In the same way, the study in self-organisation of migrant workers can be a worthy contribution to the construction of a people’s history of coping with forced displacement and precarious work life. The particular theme/s of research chosen from these instances will be decided in the annual planning meeting in January/February 2022.

b.2 Continue the work of social mapping, which was undertaken in the last three years and continued in the midst of pandemic-related restrictions. In 2019 CRG undertook an exercise of mapping particular forms of vulnerabilities in India. In 2021 CRG undertook the work of social mapping of two areas: (a) extractive economy and displacement in the coalfields of West Bengal, and (b) climate change and displacement in the Sundarban region of Bengal. In 2022 CRG will take up a social mapping projects to understand either the Char economy, politics and culture in Assam or the informal labour economy in the erstwhile industrial zones in cities like Kolkata (for instance the old jute mill labour quarters in Titagarh) or Mumbai, much in the way informal labour forms now marking the emerging labour ghettos in the new logistical or satellite cities of the Global South. The specific theme to chosen from the above two themes will be decided in the annual planning meeting. The long term plan is that after three years (2022-24) as an outcome of these three sets of mapping exercises (plus the three already done), an appropriate publication material (combining both textual as well as visual representations) will be prepared for wider distribution. We shall require separate publication budget for that.

The value of the research component is in direct relation to the critical themes addressed in the winter workshop and other activities. It provides the theoretical and political basis of the understanding that frames this proposal. It also flags the emerging issues of concern. It strengthens the network, increases the visibility of the programme in academic and non-academic institutions active in public life, and prepares the ground for CRG’s intervention in public discourse on migration related issues. The takers of CRG’s research findings in areas of statelessness, protection methods, global compacts, immigrant labour, border violence, globalisation and rights, partitions and refugee flows, etc., are many.

c) Preparation of Keywords in Refugee and Migration Studies :

Based on its extensive work over two decades and its network, CRG intends to prepare a volume of keywords in refugee and migration studies which, apart from researchers and academics, can be utilised by refugees, migrants, human rights activists, NGOs and INGOs, lawyers and journalists. The preparation of such a compendium will be similar to the two companion volumes of keywords on autonomy (2005) and social justice (2010) prepared by CRG in the last two decades. Later on if resources permit, CRG will try to translate the volume in few other languages (such as Bengali, Urdu, Nepali, Sinhalese, and Hindi to cover the South Asian region). As was found out in the two earlier cases mentioned above, the Keywords will be valuable as companion to the work of journalists, young researchers, campaign activists, and the student community.

d) A Creative Programme - Engaging with Media and the Task of Dissemination

The media programme will have three components: CRG will continue to hold the annual media workshop to sensitise young journalists to the nuances and ethics of reporting on migration, especially in relation to issues such as public health, labour, and climate-induced displacement. “Climate disaster, displacement and the media” is proposed to be theme of the media programme in 2022. The workshop will discuss the papers or creative products on the said theme by CRG media fellows. Also, few other scientific background papers will be prepared for the workshop. The aim will be publish a handbook on the theme, as it had done on the theme of rivers, ecology, and displacement (conducted in collaboration with the IUCN in 2013-15). The workshop material will include social media analysis. Social-media posts related to climate change induced migration will be documented and analysed. In short the workshop will be a training event for media activists working on issues of climate change and displacement.

As in the previous years, media fellowships (three in 2022) will be offered between February and July each year. The media fellows will produce long-form investigative reports or photo essays. To make the pool of media fellows structurally more inclusive, one of the fellowships will be may be reserved for suitable candidates working on the precarities of the daily lives of the migrants and refugees belonging to different marginalised sections.

CRG also proposes a series of twelve podcasts (once a month) and/or twelve monthly columns titled “Migration Matters”, involving rights activists, academicians, policy experts, educationists and public health activists, members of political parties and solidarity groups. The themes of the columns/podcasts will reflect CRG’s annual research agenda and will be discussed at the Annual Research and Orientation Workshop and Conference. These columns/podcasts will serve as pedagogic tools or interventions in the public discourse on migration. These will reach and assemble concerned stakeholders of the region. The podcast series will be posted on CRG website, its social media sites, programme announcements, and carried through its regulars e-newsletters. Design of the podcast will be crucial. Each year, one of the media fellows may be entrusted with this task. “Migration Matters” can be the theme of a monthly column that a reputed journalist/columnist may write and CRG can distribute the same widely.

Taken together these media related activities will extend the reach of its other activities and in turn will produce material necessary for CRG’s tasks of research, orientation, documentation, and archiving for public use.

Research Segment

Media Segment

Programmes 2022


Past Programmes 2021

Disseminations / Resources / Important Links

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