Migration, Ethnicity and Nation

Members of the Migration, Ethnicity and Nation cluster are working across a range of disciplines and subject areas to explore contemporary practices of human mobility and its societal impacts, as well as varying forms of identification and allegiance in (super)diverse societies. Work is organised into three linked, interdisciplinary research and knowledge themes: processes and practices of migration; (super)diversity; and identities and heritage. Practices and processes of migration explores stages and spaces (both of geography and meaning) within migration journeys. This includes migrants’ physical journeys, and the borders, barriers and spaces of transit and detention which they encounter in different global contexts. Other work focuses on outcomes of migration flows into transit or settlement societies; including policy responses to migration, civil society engagement with migration issues, and categories of (non)citizenship. Work within the (super)diversity theme examines encounter and interaction across various forms of difference (ethnic, national, religious) in a range of social contexts; with particular focus on urban environments, and institutions including schools, healthcare and scientific settings, universities and religious organisations. The identities and heritage theme comprises work concerned with the construction and evocation of ethnic and national ‘group identities’ (from either emic or etic perspectives), and the resonance of these identities to the everyday, lived practice of social actors across local, national and trans-national fields. Particular areas of interest within this cluster include critical work on ‘groupist’ understandings of ‘diaspora’ or the ‘ethnic community’, and work on the construction and reproduction of ‘national culture’ and ‘national heritage’ – especially as this pertains to young people in diverse societies.


Dr Parveen Akhtar (Lecturer in Politics and International Relations)
Dr Amanda Beattie (Lecturer in Politics and International Relations)
Dr Marcos Estrada (Teaching Associate in Sociology)
Dr Graeme Hayes (Reader in Political Sociology)
Dr Demelza Jones (Lecturer in Sociology and Cluster Coordinator)
Dr Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik (Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations)
Dr Anton Popov (Lecturer in Sociology)
Dr Ebru Soytemel (Lecturer in Sociology)
Dr Katherine Tonkiss (Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Policy)
Dr Simon Williams (Lecturer in Sociology and Policy)


Latest News and Events

On 9th March 2018 the CCISC research clusters on Religion and Belief and Migration, Ethnicity and Nation will jointly host a symposium on Contemporary Sikhism. The event is open to academics, students and practitioners, with confirmed speakers to date including Dr Jasjit Singh (University of Leeds) and Dr Jagbir Jhutti-Johal (University of Birmingham). Further details and booking information will be released shortly, but please contact the organisers Dr Sarah Jane Page (s.page1@aston.ac.uk) or Dr Demelza Jones (d.jones4@aston.ac.uk) with any initial queries.

Migration, Ethnicity and Nation theme members are part of a team awarded €4.6m from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme for the project Cultural Heritage and Identities of Europe’s Futures (CHIEF). Aston University is the lead partner on the project – with the Aston team comprising cluster members Dr Anton Popov (Project Leader), Dr Demelza Jones, Dr Ebru Soytemel and Dr Katherine Tonkiss, along with CCISC Co-Director Dr Gary Fooks. The project explores youth participation in the creation and reproduction of cultural knowledge in formal and informal forums, and aims to build an effective dialogue between different stakeholders in order to facilitate a future of Europe based on more inclusive notions of heritage and identity. CHIEF involves academic, heritage sector and civil society partners in nine countries within and outside the EU (Austria, Croatia, Georgia, India, Latvia, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, UK), and will run for four years from 2018.

As part of dissemination activities for the Superdiverse Diocese project, Dr Demelza Jones and CCISC External Associate Canon Dr Andrew Smith (Diocese of Birmingham) have presented findings from their research into minority congregations’ use of Anglican church spaces to academic and practitioner audiences; including at the annual national conference of Diocesan Inter-Faith Advisers organised by the Church of England’s Presence and Engagement Team at Lambeth Palace in March 2017, the annual conference of the British Sociological Association’s Sociology of Religion study group in July 2017, and as invited speakers as part of the University of Birmingham Department of Theology and Religion’s seminar series in December 2017.

In November 2017 Dr Katy Pilcher (Coordinator of the CCISC Gender, Sexualities and the Body cluster) and Dr Demelza Jones hosted a visit to Aston by Dr Sharron Fitzgerald – a specialist on gender and migration from Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich – as part of the university’s Distinguished Visitors scheme. During her visit, Dr Fitzgerald gave a lecture on her current research on trafficked women within spaces of German criminal law, and led (with Drs Pilcher and Jones) a workshop on researching with ‘hard to reach’ groups.

In November 2017 Dr Demelza Jones (drawing on her doctoral research) provided expert advice to programme makers of a forthcoming episode of the BBC World Service series The Documentary, about coming of age rituals within Tamil communities. This follows previous media engagement by Dr Jones, who featured in the 2016 BBC1 documentary A Tale of Five Temples – the Story of Hinduism in Britain and advised programme makers on Tamil migration to the UK for a proposed episode of the BBC1 genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?

In October 2017 Dr Katherine Tonkiss filmed a short video exploring the issue of statelessness in relation to the Rohingya crisis.

In October 2017 Dr Graeme Hayes hosted a film screening and panel discussion on the theme of borders, migration and detention. The event featured two short films – Violent Borders produced by STRIKE! Magazine and Working Illegally produced by Stand Off Films – followed by a discussion with film-makers and activists Helen Brewer and Natalie Fiennes, Cllr Doug James (City of Sanctuary) and CCISC Migration, Ethnicity and Nation cluster members Dr Demelza Jones and Dr Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik.

In May 2017 CCISC hosted visitors from Örebro University, Sweden for a joint event – Integrating refugees moving beyond the migration crisis: Are we building a new society? The event included public lectures from CCISC Migration, Ethnicity and Nation cluster member Dr Amanda Beattie on ‘families, children and mobility politics’, and from Dr Emma Arneback of Örebro University on ‘anti-racist education in a time of migration’, as well as contributions to a roundtable discussion from Helen Clare, City of Sanctuary Committee; Lea Fanara, Support Worker, Ashley Community & Housing; Shari Brown, Project Coordinator, Restore Project, Birmingham; David Hirst, Refugee and Migrant Support Practitioner, Birmingham Community Housing Network; and Haliima Ali, Ashley Community and Housing.

In March 2017 cluster members Dr Anton Popov and Dr Ebru Soytemel hosted a CCISC research workshop, Remembering/forgetting imperial pasts: Nationalism and the making of ethnicities around the Black Sea. The event featured papers from academic experts and practitioners from the UK, Italy, Romania, Russia and Turkey; a film screening from independent documentary maker Ani King-Underwood; and a round table discussion of memory work as politics and practice of identity in the Black Sea region and beyond.