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Call for Papers

Call for Papers: Refugee Migration to Europe – Challenges and Potentials for Cities and Regions


Guest Editors: Rainer Wehrhahn and Zine-Eddine Hathat, Kiel University 

More than five years have passed since the so-called "summer of migration", during which refugee movements, especially from Syrian people towards Europe, reinforced the ruptures within the EU. Migration movements were seen as a challenge and the question of how to deal with more than 2.5 million asylum seekers, who moved to the EU territory in 2015 and 2016, was discussed in particular. The EU did not present itself as a unit, but national decisions dominated political agendas. Border closures and infringements against European law (especially Dublin II) were the results of the disagreement of the members of the European Union. At the same time, many countries had to deal with similar challenges: In the first stage, urgency measures of distribution, accommodation, and asylum policy administration were of central importance. Then politicians, societal stakeholders, and society as a whole focused on mid- and long-term conceptual planning and restructuring of attitudes, concepts, strategies, and concrete measures. While during the first period especially top-down decision-making processes on the national level were the main instrument to cope with the massive migratory movements, in the second stage the local level was the area, in which challenges (e.g. integration, incorporation, accessibility to work) were tackled by governmental and non-governmental organization, but also by the societies. 

To shed light on these developments this special issue will focus on the impacts refugee migration caused at the local level, in rural areas, small and mid-sized cities, and at different levels in metropolitan regions. The different perspectives of the refugees are also taken into account, as the migration process and the motives and socio-economic and demographic structures of migrants are more diverse than is generally assumed. How successful were the distribution and accommodation measures, and how have they altered societies to the present day? What kind of challenges and benefits emerged? What kind of strategies were developed to tackle the challenges and to profit by the migration movements? Which actors were involved? How did these movements change not only the societies and their thinking but also the physical space in the different European countries and cities? Have there been any changes? These are just views of several other questions, which can be focussed on in the context of this special issue.  

We especially welcome papers, which challenge the perception of refugee migration being a “problem” per se. In other words, we encourage scholars to develop a critical research perspective on existing political and societal concepts and attitudes vis-à-vis refugees at the micro- and mesoscale, which often disregard the potentials of forced migration processes for socioeconomic  development paths and thus discuss ways and models of (reciprocal) integration. 

Papers based on interdisciplinary approaches of sociology, political sciences, human geography, demography, cultural sciences, economics, and others should focus on: 

  • The perspective of refugees, local politicians, civil society (agents), or economic actors in terms of how to tackle new migration processes since 2015 at local and regional levels (actors-agency-ratio, arrival quarters, and the dealing with refugees by different actors, experiences of discrimination, rejection and exclusion). 
  • The analysis of political concepts and measures, juridical regulation, and informal processes of welcome, institutionalization, and integration of refugees in cities and regions in the context of national and EU politics and laws. The question of dealing with conflicts, but also chances and the gain of experiences for municipalities and other actors (also cooperation between the different actors). 
  • Changing population structures in a critical perspective with a particular view on gender and age.  
  • The discursive production of space and diverse societies in local politics, institutional papers, statistics, and reports on migrants. In short: othering under the permission of diversity in post-migrant societies. 
  • Internal migration with a special focus on family reunion or free movements of people to relatives connected to the question of regulatory barriers. 
  • Related to the previous aspect and concerning times of open media access, papers that focus on the question of social networks that span a transnational social space across not only the European space but also connect the origin region with the arrival one. Linked with this, also a translocal perspective, which focuses on the impact that social networks can have on the (re)production of European localities. 
  • Issues of immobility and the role of borders and other (regulatory) barriers. What kind of impacts respectively what kind of chances arise for migrants and municipalities, especially in rural areas? 
  • Challenges and potentials of economic development at regional levels, but also work accessibility for refugees. 


Comparative Population Studies  

CPoS is a peer-reviewed open access journal and member of the Emerging Sources Citation Index (SNIP 2019: 1.180; Scimago Journal: 1.51 citations per document (3 years)). English language editing is available (after acceptance for publication). No fees are charged to authors.  

More details: 


Please send an abstract of max. 250 words by 11 December 2020 to wehrhahn [at] or hathat [at] and CC to CPoS [at] You will receive a reply on the 22 December. The deadline for the submission of the full paper will be 31 May 2021. 


  • 11 DEC 2020 Submission of abstracts 
  • 22 DEC 2020 Invitation for full papers 
  • 31 MAY 2021 Submission of full papers 
  • 31 JULY 2021 Notification of reviews 
  • 30 SEPT 2021 Submission of revised papers 
  • 30 NOV 2021 Second review phase and editor decision 
  • JAN 2022 Publication of the Special Issue (papers are published as accepted)