The focus of RC 46 concerns the study of migration and citizenship within an internationally informed comparative context. Migration involves the movement of people across humanly created boundaries and borders, and citizenship captures ideas of membership, participation and belonging.
Migration across humanly constructed boundaries is not new. International migration— whether voluntary or forced, wanted or unwanted, temporary or permanent, or brain drain or brain gain— is also reshaping the terrain of politics in the twenty-first century. Although migration patterns, including different categories of migrants, or shifting casual circumstances, have been variable throughout history, migration needs to be approached as a permanent not temporary phenomenon. Indeed, today migration is a structural feature of the international political economy and a key component of contemporary globalization. Political scientists in particular have much to say and to add to the ongoing and evolving study of migration, and relatedly, citizenship.
Since the 1990s there has been a steady growth in the number of political scientists engaged in research, publication and teaching on themes relating to both migration and citizenship. In this same period, professional associations devoted to political science have reflected these developments in their organizational structures, and political scientists are regularly contributing scholarly work on themes of migration and citizenship to both disciplinary and multidisciplinary journals.
However, while work in the area of migration and citizenship has moved to being ever-more systematically comparative, the dominant focus of extant work has been on the policies and experiences of countries of the global North. This is problematic because all world regions and the vast majority of countries have been impacted in some way by migration, as well as by issues relating to political membership and non-membership. Indeed, in 2017 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees noted that 65.6 million people have been forcibly displaced—a number higher than at any time in its seven-decade history— and most are located in countries of the global South.
To directly address this problem requires that we grapple with the issue of connectivity: how can the discipline of political science better connect with a diverse group of scholars from across the globe to facilitate a more internationally balanced political study of migration and citizenship? The International Political Science Association (IPSA) and Research Committee (RC) 46 offer a unique solution to this problem, because of the global character its members. Following a successful general session call for the 2018 IPSA World Congress in Brisbane on “The Politics of Migration: Borders, Citizens and Marginalized Others” (overseen by Yasmeen Abu-Laban) the RC on Migration and Citizenship was launched when junior and senior scholars from all world regions came together to request that the study of migration and citizenship be more permanently formalized in IPSA’s organizational structure. RC 46 received official status with the unanimous approval of the IPSA Executive Committee at their meeting held in Lisbon, Portugal in April 2018.