On May 29 and May 30 we (Richard Staring (EUR), Maartje van der Woude (LU) and Joanne van der Leun (LU)) invited eighteen scholars from the Netherlands and abroad for a brainstorm seminar to discuss our preliminary proposal on ‘National and Local consequences of global mobility in the context of border security’. We received a small seeding grant by the LDE Safety and Security Center in order to write an international research proposal. We had three main goals with the seminar: discussing the ins and outs of the proposal (2) recruiting possible participants (3) and selecting a suitable research grant to apply for.
Discussing the research, research question, methodology and ethics
During the seminar, academics from Erasmus University Rotterdam, University of Warwick, Institute of Social Studies, Free University Amsterdam, Koc University Istanbul and University of Leiden were present for a lively discussion on the research questions, content, methodology and ethics (‘whose side are we on’) of the proposed research. As the proposal was far from fixed, our idea of the two-day meeting would be to discuss this proposal with all invited migration and border scholars. Ultimately the goal would be to improve the proposal with the input of the ideas and knowledge of the attendees and start writing a solid, interesting and challenging research proposal for Horizon 2020 or another suitable call. The research questions the influences of EU migration and border policies on local and national border security policies, border routines and practices, as well as on how these policies and practices influence local border communities and its different participants. Topics of belonging, feelings of unsafety, fear of crime and crime rates - as possible (unintended) consequences of these policies - were also mentioned as possible themes to be included in the research. Central to this idea is the understanding of local practices and not so much on policies on the institutional levels as there has been done a lot of research into this institutional domain and less on local effects and local perceptions on these global processes.
The general idea submitted through the proposal consisted of an empirical, comparative international research on the impact of migration control and border security within local border communities situated on both mirroring sides of the external borders of the European Union. During the discussion the focus was on four specific mirroring localities in Spain-Morocco, Greece/Bulgaria-Turkey, Italy-Libya, as well as Ukraine-Hungary. Next to a transnational dimension within the research following concrete linkages from the localities onwards a historical dimension (changing patterns of migration and border control) should be part and parcel of the research. A possible comparison based on literature review with a non-EU border, for example US-Mexico, was also suggested during the meeting.
Motivating research partners
In looking at the reception of the proposal and the evaluation of the seminar we seem to have succeeded in accomplishing a second goal of the meeting that at the involvement of top researchers into the project. Next to the participants of the seminar, contacts with other colleagues from law, geography and technology are proceeded on a more individual level. The invited scholars were partly recruited from our own existing academic networks, others found us. One of the outcomes of the meeting was to get more academic diversity and divergent perspectives into the possible research team as for instance from Delft University of Technology another partner of the LDE center for Safety and Security as well as from Geography.
ERC Synergy Grant
Finally, one of the expected outcomes of the seminar was to apply for a European Research Council Synergy Grant call that is forthcoming and expected to stay open between July until October 2017. According to a leaflet distributed earlier, the Synergy Grant is a call for proposals for bottom-up research in which a small group of principal investigators and their teams work together.
For the principal initiators of the research proposal, the next step will be to take the proposal into the next phase by improving it while including and acknowledging all discussions and concrete inputs during the seminar by all participants. In addition, discussions with possible new partners will proceed the upcoming weeks and “to synergize the teams’ complementary skills, knowledge and resources”.
Prof.dr. Richard Staring