Call for papers: Changing Visions of Nordic Migration Policy and Law

We invite submission of abstracts on transformations in Nordic policies and law, changing imaginaries of the Nordics, and the future of Nordic policies on migration for a workshop in Oslo, May 26-27, 2020.

Still shot of video addressing 'Are you leaving your country in search of a job?' by the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security

Webpage on Norwegian asylum regulation by Ministry of Justice and Public Security.  

From liberal to restrictive  

Nordic migration policies and legislation are undergoing significant transformations. Traditionally seen as liberal front-runners in regard to asylum and immigration, Nordic countries were among the first to sign the 1951 Refugee Convention, among the first in Europe to adopt a domestic right to family reunification, and for decades have always been among the top donors to international refugee protection.

During the last 20 years, however, all Nordic countries have introduced repeated restrictions to their asylum and immigration laws. In some Nordic countries, policymakers even compete to ‘brand’ their country as having the most restrictive immigration rules in Europe. Other countries have implemented restrictions more reluctantly, but with similar effects in terms of e.g. shortening residence permits for refugees, limiting access to family reunification and cutting down welfare benefits.

The turn-around has not gone unnoticed, and various Nordic countries have found themselves in the international spotlight, whether in terms of international newspaper articles pondering how this new policy directions aligns with Nordic values more generally, or legal cases before European courts or international human rights bodies.

Impact on Nordic cooperation

The shifts in migration policy also impact Nordic cooperation. The Nordic Passport Union is often hailed as pioneering. Yet, since 2016 national border controls have been reintroduced along several borders within the region, threatening more than six decades of free movement. Five years after the so-called ‘European refugee crisis,’ and despite generally falling asylum numbers, they remain in place and have even been expanded during 2019.

Different policy trajectories and different relationships to EU asylum and migration law across the Nordic countries further mean that regional dialogue in this area – once a cornerstone of Nordic cooperation – has taken a backseat to other fora. The Nordic countries moreover differ in their outlook on international cooperation, and Nordic governments have assumed very different positions in regard to current reforms of European and global migration policy frameworks.

Workshop themes

We invite papers that engage with the theme of the seminar descriptively (e.g. by mapping, comparing and contextualizing transformations in current Nordic policies and law), theoretically (e.g. examining the political, social or national imaginaries driving or resulting from Nordic migration policies) and/or prescriptively (e.g. analysing the forward-looking trajectories of Nordic migration policy and law, the sustainability of existing policy frameworks, or the potential for more radical shifts in Nordic policies and laws).

The questions this seminar seeks to answer include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • What social, economic, political or other factors explain current transformations in Nordic asylum and immigration and law?
  • To what extent are Nordic migration policies shaped by and themselves impacting particular Nordic values, imaginaries or visions?
  • What are the wider implications of Nordic migration policies in terms of e.g. integration efforts, economic performance, rule of law and international human rights obligations?
  • How do domestic asylum and migration policy impact the external perception and standing of Nordic countries, including in foreign policy cooperation on migration issues?
  • What role can and should Nordic countries, individually and as a collective, play in respect of current and upcoming reform processes at the European and international level?
  • Is there (still) anything Nordic about Nordic migration policy?

Submission and deadline

Abstracts of up to 300 words are to be submitted here no later than April 6.


Nordic Branding, the Research Group in Migration Law, and the Institute for Social Research

Published Feb. 28, 2020 1:18 PM - Last modified Feb. 28, 2020 5:44 PM