When in the summer, hundreds of thousands of Pacific salmon migrate to their spawning pools in the rivers of the United States and Canada, they are enmeshed in an assemblage spanning from fishing gears and technologies of measurement to legal prescriptions, administrative practices, and settler colonial histories of dispossession and capitalization (cf., e.g., Harris 2001; Wadewitz 2012). During those same months, migrant workers from across Southeast Asia toil on oil palm plantations on Borneo, clearing vast tracts of tropical forest for the production of highly versatile vegetable oil used in the chemical industry, as biofuel and for food consumption (cf., e.g., Pye and Bhattacharya 2012; Kelley et al. 2020, 27-29). These are just two examples of the enormous plurality of configurations of human and non-human migration embedded in socio-political, economic, historical and ecological relations (cf., e.g., Demuth 2019; Blavascunas 2020).

In this context, exploring the intersection, commonalities as well as differences between the movement of human and non-human subjects, their entangled histories and joined, though not necessarily equal, production of future ecologies, landscapes and indeed forms of life, can provide a fruitful approach for understanding the dynamics of migration (cf., e.g., Jónsson 2010; De León 2015; Lynteris 2016; Elmhirst 2017). At the same time such an approach promises novel insights into the workings of governmental institutions and the landscapes and ecologies they produce (cf., e.g., Anderson 2019; Hetherington 2020; Swanson 2019), as well as the impact of diverse forms of ecological change in relation to old and new kinds of mobility (cf., e.g., Paprocki 2020; Peluso and Purwanto 2018).

This workshop seeks to address these issues highlighting the diverse character of processes of migration in a broad, experimental manner to stimulate a discussion that, we suggest, proves especially significant given that non-human entities remain largely peripheral to research conducted in the fields of Border and Migration Studies. It aims to bring together scholars working on a wide variety of approaches, providing a space for critical exchange and collaborative thinking for a diverse group of scholars. Accordingly, we do not provide geographical, disciplinary or topical limitations for submissions aside from the thematic framework outlined above. Guiding, but by no means delimiting questions, include:

  • To what extent are contemporary borderlands conditioned and questioned by the multiplicities of relationships between human and non-human entities?
  • How are these relations and practices related to histories of colonization and capitalist development?
  • How are contemporary forms of human migration related to environmental change(s) and socio-ecological transformation(s)?
  • What new political and economic formations emerge at the intersection between migration and environmental transformation?

The workshop is primarily addressing early career scholars in the Social Sciences and the Humanities; in light of the ongoing disruption of research plans due to the COVID19 pandemic that many early career scholars experience, submissions exploring envisioned, future research endeavors are, of course, as much welcome as contributions based on actual fieldwork experience. Applications for participation should include an outline of the paper to be presented at the workshop, not exceeding 300 words, and a bio. The deadline for applications is the 31st of October 2021 and they should be sent by email to jonathan.kramer@socant.su.se.

More information

The workshop is hosted by CEIFO at the Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University, and will take place online via Zoom.

Organizers: Jonathan Krämer (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology Halle & Stockholm University) & Andreas Womelsdorf (University of Vienna)


Anderson, Zachary R. (2019): “Mainstreaming Green: Translating the Green Economy in an Indonesian Frontier.” In Frontier Assemblages: The  Emergent Politics of Resource Frontiers in Asia, edited by Jason Cons and Michael Eilenberg, 83–98. Antipode Book Series. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Blavascunas, Eunice (2020): Foresters, Borders, and Bark Beetles: The Future of Europe’s Last Primeval Forest. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

De León, Jason (2015): The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail. Berkeley et al.: University of California Press.

Demuth, Bathsheba (2019): Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait. New York & London: W.W. Norton & Company.

Elmhirst, Rebecca (2017): 18 Migration and the Environment. In: Hirsch, Philip (ed.): Routledge Handbook of the Environment in Southeast Asia. New York et al.: Routledge, pp. 298-311.

Harris, Douglas C. (2001): Fish, Law, and Colonialism: The Legal Capture of Salmon in British Columbia. Toronto et al.: University of Toronto Press.

Hetherington, Kregg (2020): The Government of Beans: Regulating Life in the Age of Monocrops. Durham: Duke University Press.

Jónsson, Gunvor (2010): The Environmental Factor in Migration Dynamics: A Review of African Case Studies. IMI Working Papers 21. International Migration Institute.

Kelley, Lisa C., Nancy Lee Peluso, Kimberly M. Carlson, and Suraya Afiff (2020): “Circular Labor Migration and Land-Livelihood Dynamics in Southeast Asia’s Concession Landscapes.” Journal of Rural Studies 73: 21–33. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2019.11.019

Lynteris, Christos (2016): Ethnographic Plague: Configuring Disease on the Chinese-Russian Frontier. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Paprocki, Kasia (2020): “The Climate Change of Your Desires: Climate Migration and Imaginaries of Urban and Rural Climate Futures.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 38 (2): 248–66. https://doi.org/10.1177/0263775819892600

Peluso, Nancy Lee, and Agus Budi Purwanto (2018): “The Remittance Forest: Turning Mobile Labor into Agrarian Capital.” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 39 (1): 6–36. https://doi.org/10.1111/sjtg.12225.

Pye, Oliver and Bhattacharya, Jayati (eds., 2012): The Palm Oil Controversy in Southeast Asia: A Transnational Perspective. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Swanson, Heather Anne (2019): “Patterns of Naturecultures: Political Economy and the Spatial Distribution of Salmon Populations in Hokkaido, Japan.” In Frontier Assemblages: The Emergent Politics of Resource Frontiers in Asia, edited by Jason Cons and Michael Eilenberg, 117–30. Antipode Book Series. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Wadewitz, Lissa K. (2012): The Nature of Borders: Salmon, Boundaries, and Bandits on the Salish Sea. Vancouver & Toronto: University of British Columbia Press.