The Politics of Migration and Asylum Crisis in Europe – PACE

Scientific Coordination

Hélène Thiollet


In the wake of the current European migration and asylum crisis, much interest is devoted to State politics as the crisis shed renewed light on the shortcomings of migration and asylum policies as well as the pitfalls of “crisis management”. Yet, less is known about non-state actors’ role in and reaction to a crisis. PACE fills this gap by looking at how these actors framed and reacted to the crisis ‘above’ and ‘below’ the States and the EU. It aims at describing how non-state actors have contributed to the political construction of the crisis. It will thus investigate how the crisis has constrained their perceptions, tactics and organisational changes in response to “crisis management” policies deployed by states. PACE adopts a broad understanding of non-state actors, including media, experts, international organisations (IOs) including international city networks and cities themselves, civil society organisations (CSOs) and militant networks mobilised pro or against migrants, as well migrant-led organisations (MLOs) and more ad hoc informal mobilisations. It involves considering multiple levels through which the crisis is constructed, above and below the state, ranging from local micro-contexts to multilateral initiatives.

Our main objective therefore is to explain how various non-state actors perceive and construct the crisis, to generate understandings of how they behave and change in the crisis. PACE works in a comparative and historical perspective with sources from and fieldwork in European and non-European countries of destination, circulation and origin for migrants and refugees. It gathers researchers from five disciplines (political science, geography, anthropology, sociology, history). It uses a pluralist set of methods including ethnographic surveys, in-depth interviews, quantitative and qualitative discourse analysis, textometric explorations, archival research and critical cartographies of migration and mobilisations.

Its originality lies in the concern for non-state actors in the crisis, a critical and interdisciplinary perspective and the wide range of methods employed to answer our research questions.

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