The Challenges of Migration, Integration and Exclusion (WiMi) was a 3-year research initiative (2017-2020) financed by the Max Planck Society and led by Prof. Dr Marie-Claire Foblets (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle/Saale) and Prof. Dr Ayelet Shachar (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen). This collaborative project involved researchers from six Max Planck Institutes: Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law (Heidelberg), Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (Rostock), Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy (Munich), Max Planck Institute for Human Development (Berlin), Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (Halle) and Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (Göttingen). The project was coordinated by Dr Zeynep Yanasmayan.
In the recent debates on migration to Europe, and Germany in particular, researchers as well as policy makers have placed a great deal of emphasis on pathways to successful integration of immigrants and asylum seekers into the host societies. This project sought to put a stronger focus on patterns and mechanisms of exclusion. In order to do so, the project participants developed a comprehensive research design which was:
- Multidisciplinary: The project put together migration researchers from a broad variety of disciplines: law, demography, public health, economics, social anthropology, political science sociology, and history.
- Multi-perspective: The project investigated exclusion from the perspectives of a number of different actors at the level of state agencies (the European Union, the receiving nation-states, the countries of origin), non-governmental actors, as well as the immigrants themselves.
- Multidimensional: Instead of viewing inclusion and exclusion merely as opposite and mutually exclusive pathways, the project took a more comprehensive approach with a focus on the temporal dimension, following immigrants through the different stages of the migration process, from their initial decision to leave their country of origin to their arrival in the European Union and legal statuses they go through, right up to the moment a final decision (permission to stay, return to country of origin, etc.) has been reached and executed. The research assessed not only the changes in legal statuses, but also the links between legal statuses on the one hand, and socio-economic conditions, health, and various cultural factors, on the other. The project put these different dimensions and their linkages together and elaborated on their interdependencies and interactions.
The project had three clearly defined overarching objectives:
- To provide in-depth studies of the various mechanisms that effectively exclude immigrants at the different stages of the migration process, with a focus on four main areas, namely legal status, socio-economic conditions, health status, and identification with ‘emotional communities’;
- To identify the consequences of those exclusion mechanisms both for immigrants and for members of the majority societies;
- To elaborate alternative pathways that might help prevent the marginalizing effects of exclusion (especially those that raise concerns about respect for human rights), particularly with a view to policy relevance.
The specific sub-projects covered by this initiative were:
Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law
- Decisions on exclusion and inclusion in the EU and beyond – Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr Armin von Bogdandy
Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research/Population Europe
- Gender differences in health and mortality by ethnic background – a register-based study. Principal Investigator: Dr Anna Oksuzyan
- Undocumented migrants and irregular workers in Germany: policy challenges and approaches 1950-2019. Principal Investigator: Dr Daniela Vono de Vilhena
- Vanishing health advantage of migrants over time and across generations. Principal Investigator: Dr Silvia Loi
Max Planck Institute for Human Development
- Refugees and the creation of emotional communities. Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr Margrit Pernau, Dr Benno Gammerl, Dr Deepra Dandekar and Dr Soňa Mikulová
Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
- Belonging nowhere or everywhere? Somali return migrants in East Africa. Principal Investigator: Dr Tabea Scharrer
- Migrants’ exclusion in a fragmented, international, legal environment. Principal Investigator: Dr Luc Leboeuf
Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy
- Lost potentials: the rights and lives of the excluded. Principal Investigators: Dr Christian Hunkler, Dr Julia Hagn, and Dr Romuald Méango
Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity
- The inclusion-exclusion continuum: asylum-seekers and the social implications of legal statuses and conditions in Germany. Principal Investigator: Dr Miriam Schader