RESA: Research School for Swedish Anthropology
PhD course open to: PhD students with an interest in migration
Course title: Transnational Migration: Refugees, Routes, Encounters
Dates: October-December 2018
Location: Stockholm University
Course coordinator: Erik Olsson, Professor, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University
ECTS: 7.5 credits
Contact: Erik Olsson (

Course overview

During the fall of 2018, Stockholm University offers a PhD course that approaches international migration through a focus on transnational processes. Through lectures with leading migration scholars and seminars led by highly qualified experts in the field, the course participants will gain a general understanding of migration scholarship. In particular, the course will focus on refugee routes and refugees’ pursuit of a better and more secure life situation – in the contemporary world but also historically. The course is ideal for PhD students who are interested in deepening their understanding of refugee experiences, how refugee routes are embedded in other processes, and how the refugee question can be understood through a focus on transnational migration.

This is a 7.5 ECTS course during a 10-week period between October and December 2018. Confirmed guest lecturers for the course are Thomas Faist (University of Bielefeld), Marlou Schrover (University of Leiden), Deirdre McKay (Keele University) and Ruben Andersson (University of Oxford).

The interdisciplinary course welcomes participants from all subjects, disciplines, and universities. There are no fees for the course, but participants will have to cover costs for literature, accommodation and travel. For more information or to register for the course, please contact the coordinator or one of the teachers.

Course description

The course approaches international migration through a focus on transnational processes. It will develop a transnational perspective through a series of key theoretical and methodological debates and an empirical concern with how migration takes shape across nation-state borders. The course will have a particular focus on refugee migration and how migration routes develop and are organized in relation to border-regimes and governmental control, while acknowledging the importance of age, class, gender, race, and language in these processes. The course is based on five modules that focus on different stages of the migration process. It is open to a broad range of academic disciplines and research interests and allows for individual tracks by offering course participants the opportunity to engage with readings that bridge individual research-topics to the main theme of the course.


The course will be organized around five modules centered on lectures, readings, individual tutorials and seminars. The course will have two instructors who will supervise the participants and monitor the discussions in relation to the topics in the modules. Invited scholars will lecture in each of the modules. The course will utilize a process-oriented pedagogy based on a problem-oriented dialogue between the course participants and instructors. More specifically, while there is a general framework based on the syllabus, the participants will be offered the opportunity to develop discussion topics with other participants and the instructors as the course progresses.

The main training activities in the course will be readings of relevant literature, lectures, seminars and a paper written individually, which will also function as the course examination.

The compulsory readings will speak directly to the theme of each module. Participants will also be given the opportunity to suggest readings as the course progresses, ideally with reference to their ongoing PhD work. The instructor will support the participant in any questions regarding the relevance of the literature. 

The course lectures consist of events in collaboration with, and organized by, the Forum for Transnational Migration Research at Stockholm University. These lectures will match the themes of the course modules and allow participants for individual consultations with the lecturer.

The seminars will be moderated by the instructors and focus on student-led discussions centered on the module themes. These seminars will be open-ended in order to give the participants the possibility to discuss problems at hand, the content of the literature, and the lectures at a more in-depth level.

The individual tutorials will focus on the relationship between the module themes and participants’ research projects. This activity builds on the dialogue between the instructor and the participant, enabling discussions and consultations focused on individual research problems.


The course will be examined through a written paper that reflects the course modules. It will be presented in a draft version at the end of the course. The paper’s format will be decided after discussions with the instructors. 

Learning outcomes

Course participants will have gained a broad understanding of the theoretical and methodological implications of employing a transnational approach to migration. Specifically, this means being able to:

  • Demonstrate the relevance and contribution of knowledge of different migration theories by discussing them in relation to empirical examples.
  • Giving in-depth accounts on how migration routes are organized in relation to different regimes and networks. This will in particular rely on discussions consisting of relevant historical and geographical examples.
  • Describe the contextual features of refugee migration regimes by identifying and comparing historical examples and relate these to current cases of refugee routes.
  • Account for the need of analyzing migration routes in relation to power relations such as age, class, gender, sexuality and ethnicity, but also religion and language by situating these in relevant historical examples.
  • Demonstrate a substantial knowledge about the interplay between theory and method in migration studies with a special focus on the methodological implications in studying migration with a transnational approach.

For more information, please visit Forum for Transnational Migration Research’s website.