Category Archives: event

Workshop on the “covidisation” of migration and health research

The African Center for Migration and Society launched a series of activities to discuss “the challenges and potential opportunities COVID-19 has presented to the field of migration and health research and, through collaborative discussions and dialogue, consider solutions-focused ways forward” (concept note).

On March 24, a group of researchers met online for a first workshop (program + summary).

On April 14, about 20 researchers met for a second workshop. The aim was to explore the relevance of the Johannesburg Principles – Building Equitable and Effective Partnerships for Migration Research.

Below is a personal synthesis of the discussions. A more complete summary will be provided by the organizers later, possibly in different languages.

Access to migrant people further limited

The transfer of physical to online activities enables to reach – as before – migrant people who are connected. It however has many negative aspects:

  • opportunism to use the crisis to make non-legitimate decisions about funding, policies, etc.
  • research on Covid focuses on corporate technological solutions rather than empowering communities – migrants’ population is not a priority
  • physical presence to build relationship and trust is missing, non-verbal communication gets lost
  • people are excluded by technology: low e-literacy, no web-based phone, no wifi/data
  • certain groups are additionally marginalized, for example refugees who are detained cannot meet activists – violence cannot be monitored – who continues to be excluded?
  • information about the condition of certain areas is not accessible (lack of data)
  • research realized within communities and face to face interactions is more difficult; ethics committees mayby default reject field research without real ethical consideration
  • the multiplication of online activities creates a certain pressure to attend in regard to being fully engaged in a specific environment
  • the language barrier may increase due to the spread of closed-source, western technologies

Ideas to empower migrant communities

  • Nurturing local research, communities, neighborhoods rather than focusing on distant, global projects
  • Elaborating research strategies with migrant communities, addressing questions such as the funding of participants (valuing the time, knowledge and expertise provided by people who cannot afford decent living conditions; ensuring the strategy reinforces the community)
  • Providing safe online spaces for migrant people to speak and reflect on research findings, knowing the risks related to online participation (surveillance, history, etc)
  • Ensuring more people affected are able to contribute online; taking care of the power dynamics between researchers, participants and local organizations; reflecting on how to build trust, solidarity, curiosity online


The Johannesburg principles themselves seem appreciated by the group. Online issues should be addressed, and the document should be widely accessible, even as as draft, for example on Zenodo. A libre/open-source licence should be used to allow people to build on the work. A link to the coming UNESCO recommendation on open science could be made.

This content can be shared and adapted under certain conditions: see Credits.

To cite: Balli Fabio. The “covidisation” of migration and health research. Duty of care in Italy-France migration 2021; 2. ISSN to come.