GRAMNet A new approach to migration
A research initiative focusing on migrants, asylum seekers and refugees has been launched at the University of Glasgow. GRAMNet (Glasgow Refugee, Asylum & Migration Network) brings together researchers and practitioners, NGOs (non governmental organisations) and policy makers concerned with immigration issues in Scotland and beyond.
The city of Glasgow is host to the largest population of refugees and asylum seekers under the UK Government’s dispersal policy and also has a history of attracting large communities of migrants. GRAMNet aims to build a context for the study of migrant communities based on the city’s unique position.
'We’ve spent a lot of this year thinking through what appropriate methodologies and frameworks there are for working with vulnerable groups,' says Professor of Languages & Intercultural Studies Alison Phipps. 'A lot of focus groups and semi-structured interviews are used in existing research methods. Basically, people who may have had traumatic experiences are asked questions, they may then start to relive their experiences and become re-traumatised. Only now are people are starting to realise that there is something wrong with standard social science research methods for certain groups, and GRAMNet is helping clarify this.'
One of GRAMNet’s first jobs has been to think and talk together about possible alternatives.
'In our interactions with partners beyond the University, it’s becoming clear that there is an appetite for new insights and new ways of gathering that insight,' says Professor of Russian Gender Studies Rebecca Kay. 'They’re quite aware that they’ve come up against a barrier in their ability to develop further understanding of what’s happening. On the migration front there’s this slight obsession with numbers. People like asking: "How many migrants are there?" "Where are they?" "What are they doing?" Those questions aren’t easy to answer; we need to ask different questions.'
The need for a new approach does now seem to be entering the public consciousness.
'But many of our knowledge exchange partners are small organisations who need facilities for research and development but cannot easily access the knowledge base of research: so the University can form a natural alliance there and build research and knowledge exchange, a mutually beneficial, two-way process, with these groups,' says Professor Phipps. 'That style of research will really help build a strong, well-informed and sensible policy around immigration, migration, refugees and asylum-seekers.'
Find out more visit our site: GRAMNet
First published: 9 September 2010