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  • Writer's pictureElzbieta M Gozdziak

Staying busy during the pandemic

Updated: Jan 3, 2022

Unable to travel to conferences, connect with colleagues, and meet new scholars, I thought I would update you on my activities during the pandemic.

Like everybody else I binge-watch shows on Netflix and Viki (I got addicted to Korean dramas! Will save this topic for a separate blog post, though), but I also try to stay productive. Luckily most of my current projects are at the analysis and writing stage, so being at home is conducive to finishing these tasks.

I have updated parts of this website and you can already see some of the books and articles I managed to complete. Without the ability to do book launches and talks, I have tried to be creative in order to share my work. Go to the home page of my website and you will see two short videos presenting a special issue of the Journal of Human Trafficking I co-edited with Kathleen M. Vogel to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Palermo Protocol, and a volume entitled Europe and the Refugee Response: A Crisis of Values? I edited with Izabella Main and Brigitte Suter. The book is open access and you can read and download it here. I wonder if post-pandemic we will return to more traditional ways of launching books or continue to innovate.

My upcoming book, Human Trafficking as a New (In)Security Threat, will be published at the beginning of 2021. In this book, I challenge the rhetoric linking ‘war on terror’ with ‘war on human trafficking’ by juxtaposing lived experiences of survivors of trafficking, refugees, and labor migrants with macro-level security concerns. Drawing on my empirical research in the United States and in Europe, I show how human trafficking has replaced migration in public narratives, policy responses, and practice with migrants and analyzes lived experiences of (in)security of trafficked victims, irregular migrants, and asylum seekers.

You or your library can pre-order the book here.

Our project of migration of nurses from Poland, Sweden, and the Philippines (WELLMIG) is also nearing the end. We have completed all the empirical field research and are trying to present our findings in a variety of articles and blog posts. My colleague, Izabella Main, and I published one paper: Goździak E. M. & Main I. (2020). Transnational Mobility and Socio-cultural Remittances: The Case of Polish Women in Norway and Poland. Ethnologia Europaea 50(1). doi: We anticipate a second one, From Going Abroad to Settling Down… While Remaining Mobile? Polish Women in Norway Narrate Their Migration Experiences, based on our research on female migration from Poland to Norway to be published in the Nordic Journal of Migration Research in January. Stay tuned for a link to the publication.

I should probably devote another blog post to the length of time it takes to get anything published. I know that during the pandemic things are slow, but this paper had been submitted almost a year before the pandemic. It was supposed to be published in September 2020, but some unanticipated glitch in the online system did not let the editor know that page proof corrections have been submitted. As a result, the paper will not be published until early (hopefully) next year!

You can read our blog posts resulting from the WELLMIG project here.

The Horizon 2020 NoVaMigra project I am involved in will be completed next summer, so we still have a few months worth of work. At the moment, we are planning an online workshop on the role of religion in the 'refugee crises.' This will be a conversation between the anthropologists on the project team and a couple philosophers. Our talks will be based on a briefing paper we have just published.

This briefing paper examines practices of and debates on religious tolerance in immigration contexts in five European countries—Germany, Greece, Hungary, Poland, and Sweden. On the one hand, politicians, religious leaders, and other public figures openly expressed their opposition to refugee reception by framing Islam as a threat to the identity of the European continent, reducing refugees’ complex identities to their religious affiliation. On the other hand, our research has identified a plethora of voices and activities undertaken to ‘welcome the stranger.’ Many civil society representatives interviewed explained their motivation to assist and solidarize with asylum seekers by referring to religious values. You can download it here.

Izabella and I continue the theme of solidarity with refugees, in a paper Contesting Flexible Solidarity: Poland and the “Migration Crisis” published in Frontiers in Human Dynamics. We emphasize that new forms of solidarity are being shaped as a response to the European “refugee crisis. ” The states have not been able to implement any viable or sustainable solution to the crisis, but the solidarity movement has been very visible and active in many European countries and rejected in others. In this paper, we focus on Poland, a country that gave birth to the Solidarność labor movement in 1980, but was recently reprimanded by the European Union for its lack of solidarity with other countries that accepted refugees. In this paper, we trace the rapture of the Solidarity movement and the emergence of solidarities with migrants and refugees in local Polish communities and abroad. We juxtapose the Polish government's call for “flexible solidarity” mechanisms within the EU, coupled with the emphasis on solidarity in the context of border securitization, with grassroots efforts in several Polish cities to welcome migrants and refugees and facilitate their integration. We also look at the emerging initiatives to raise resources to help refugees lingering in refugee camps and transit countries. And finally, we ask the question whether fragmented, organically evolving, grass-root solidarities are sustainable without the support of the national government.

I am thinking of writing a companion piece to this article, focusing on Hungary. Stay tuned.

This is all the update for today. Stay safe!

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