By Obert Tawodzera
Between the 26th and 28th of June, myself and other members of the Migration Research Group team attended the 16th IMISCOE Annual Conference in Malmo Sweden. The conference theme was Understanding International Migration in the 21st Century: Conceptual and Methodological Approaches. It was a well-attended conference with close to 1000 participants with different academic, professional backgrounds and functions attending. For me, this was my first IMISCOE conference and I made the most out of it. On the first day of the conference, I attended some PhD networking activities. I found these helpful as I had the opportunity to learn more about IMISCOE, get to know and exchange with other PhD students as well as with other well-established senior professionals and scholars whose work I had long admired. Besides networking it was also an opportunity to learn some academic skills of relevance to my PhD and perhaps beyond.
The conference itself kicked off to a great start with a plethora of panels spread across the 3 days. There was so much good content across the panels that I wished I could have been in more than one place at once. MRG co-directors, Majella Kilkey and Louise Ryan presented on the first day a paper reconsidering the role of spatial and temporary dynamics in long-distance care relationships. However, the highlight for me was on the second day in a panel organised by MRG co directors Majella and Louise titled “Ageing ‘in’ and ‘out’ of place: new conceptual challenges for migration research”. The focus of the panel was on migrants’ experiences of ageing ‘in’ and ‘out’ of place and to reflect on some conceptual frameworks. The panel brought together an international set of academics drawing on research which had been conducted across a range of geographic context. This panel also afforded the MRG directors and I to present some of the preliminary findings of our ‘Sustainable Care’ research with ageing migrants. Louise and Magda a colleague in the ‘Sustainable Care’ project presented a paper examining migrants’ understanding of and navigation of place in later life. I was also privileged to present a paper that forms part of my PhD work reflecting on understanding the role of new technologies in maintaining ‘familyhood’ across geographic distance from the specific perspective of ageing migrants. This was a well-attended panel with both senior and early career researchers jostling for sits. We received a lot of constructive feedback which we found very helpful in clarifying the purpose and scope of our project and in making it more accessible to others.
Personally, the conference gave me the opportunity to meet other like-minded scholars, listen and engage with their work as well as exchange ideas on fields of interest Finally, I can say presenting at the conference and listening to talks and presentations re-invigorated my interest in migration and care studies and energised me to learn more about best practices, methods and resources in research.