Looking back: Workshop on interdisciplinary legal research on migration

On 19 May 2022, with support of the Dutch Association for Migration Research and the Netherlands Network for Human Rights Research (NNHRR), a workshop was organized on doing interdisciplinary legal research in migration law and on the human rights of migrants. The idea for this workshop came from a meeting of members of the Migration & Borders Working Group of the NNHRR and three early career researchers from different universities took on the task of organizing this workshop. The enthusiasm and positive feedback from the offline and online participants proved that this is a topic that resonates with many (young) scholars.

Three speakers were invited to discuss their experience with and views on interdisciplinarity in legal research on migration and the human rights of migrants. The first, Jasper Krommendijk (Radboud University) provided detailed insights into his own methodological approach and experience with qualitative expert interviews. He delved into the way in which he selected and approached his respondents. Next to that, he discussed the limitations of his approach and how to try and overcome these. Lastly, he elaborated on how to write down the analytical aspects that you draw from your data. Ayse Güdük (Ghent University) provided for some initial reflections as a discussant to Jasper’s presentation.

The second speaker, Elif Durmus (University of Antwerp), held a personal and open presentation about her methodological PhD journey as a legal scholar. The talk resonated very much with a lot of the participants. From starting out and knowing very little about methodology, to learning and accepting possible imperfections that remain (no matter how much methodological experience you have). This talk sparked an insightful discussion on the practice of interdisciplinary research. Jordan Dez (Vrije Universiteit) commented on Elif’s presentation as a discussant.

Lastly, Ellen Desmet (Ghent University) started out with an extensive overview of law and social science disciplines and the possible ways in which these interact. A variety of forms of interdisciplinary research, such as borrowing concepts and methods, but also full-scale ‘interdisciplines’ such as legal anthropology and socio-legal research were explained in relation to one another. After that, a lot of concrete examples were provided of her own projects but also of PhD projects that are currently ongoing under her supervision, that involve different interdisciplinary approaches. This convincingly showed the richness of doing interdisciplinary research. The discussant for Ellen’s presentation, Isabella Leroy (Vrije Universiteit), provided some reflections.

All speakers contributed in their own way to making this a successful event and we are very grateful to them, the discussants, and the participants. We closed off with a lunch and informal discussions. We hope this event will kickstart other initiatives on the same topic!

The organizers: Jordan Dez (Vrije Universiteit) Lynn Hillary (University of Amsterdam) Kris van der Pas (Radboud University)