Conference 'Troubling Times for Europe?' Summary Conference 'Troubling Times for Europe?' Summary


The international conference Troubling Times for Europe? Families, Migration and Politics took place on June 3-4, 2016, in Krakow. It was two very inspiring days and it was really exciting to meet so many migration researchers. The inauguration of the conference was preceded by a plenary meeting of the Committee for Migration Studies of Polish Academy of Science, during which Dr. prof. University of Wroclaw Joanna Wojdon gave a lecture on challenges in the study of today's American Polonia. In addition, Prof. Marek Okólski was honored with a special commemorative book to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his scientific work.


The Conference Trubling Times for Europe was a unique opportunity that brought together both experienced scholars and early career researchers working on the issues connected to international migration and mobility, families and care. Furthermore, it served as a fitting closure and summary of three-year Polish-Norwegian research project TRANSFAM - Doing Family in a Transnational Context. Demographic Choices, Welfare Adaptations, School Integration and Every-day Life of Polish Families Living in Polish-Norwegian Transnationality.

Among the main goals of the project were:

  • To identify the key patterns within the transnational and/or integration strategies adopted by the Polish migrants relocating to Norway, as well as their families. This aim included exploring how people seek and receive institutional support, both in their home and their destination countries. In order to address this theme, the studies conducted as part of the Transfam project largely employed an intersectional perspective, sensitive to individual characteristics of gender, age, ethnicity, life-cycle, family type and social class;
  • To explore the specificities of the formerly largely male-dominated migration from Poland to Norway that is currently transforming into a family reunification and settlement-oriented pattern of mobility. Special attention was, however, given to the modalities of masculinity and ways in which Polish men adapt to the new family practices encountered or re-negotiated abroad;
  • To clarify what needs to become the focus with regard to the policy-relevant identification of barriers and challenges that the Polish migrants (adults and children) face  in their attempts at integration with the Norwegian society. This subtheme looked at the broader aspects of access to social resources civic participation, as well as processes of social anchoring and narrating one's sense of belonging;
  • To determine main strategies of maintaining family ties, as well as enumerate the issues securing the continuity of the family life as it concerns various members 'doing transnational family' intergenerationally and across spatial distances. Tied with the general goal of investigating transnational family practices, the findings in this realm of the project contribute to the general understanding of the re-defined (parental/partner/child and other) roles and relationships within transnational family contexts; 
  • To fill the evident void in the academic, policy-driven and social research and knowledge pertaining to the lives of the Polish families in Norway. The project sought to elaborate on (1) how the Polish children function in the Norwegian public institutions (particularly in the educational setting of schools and  kindergartens), (2) how Poles in Norway self-organize and engage in  activism (with certain explorations covering clubs, migrant and other associations, religious communities and alike);  
  • To pinpoint the potential re-integration problems that returning migrants (both adults and children) need to tackle upon their re-entry into the Polish society. To shed light not only on the Norwegian policies concerning the reception of migrants from Poland and beyond, but also to propose current, appropriately targeted and relevant policy recommendations, mainly concerning the local and educational policies in need of revision across the two countries in question;
  • To reach out to the affected communities on the practical level by preparing and executing workshops for social workers and Polish migrant parents in order to facilitate the cooperation between migrant families and Norwegian institutions, particularly in the areas of family-relevant challenges and/or education.  This goal is further completed by a pilot-program of inter-cultural education workshops, written for the Polish schools accommodating children of migrants and return migrants

The conference has been a space for discussing  topics that were sparked by the results and publications of the TRANSFAM project, broadly referring to  the various perspectives on transnationality, as well as methodological advancements and novel theoretical approaches for studying modern migration.

There were two strands that the conference presentations addressed, namely (1) Transnational Families in Europe and (2) Refugee Families and Politics in Fortress Europe. Many notable researchers have responded to the invitation and submitted their papers for presentation at the event. The participants represented various disciplines from social research on migation and transnationalism, family, education, and multiculturalism, to political sciences and interdisciplinary approaches to migration policy and its intersections with international politics. The audience got a chance to listen to 58 papers. There were also4 plenary sessions with papers by distinguish keynote speakers.

While the formal welcome was delivered by Professor Marcin Lubaś, the Head of the Jagiellonian University's Institute of Sociology, the first thematic opening speech was given by Professor Krystyna Slany, Principal Investigator in the TRANSFAM project and Head of the Department of Population Studies at the Institute of Sociology. 

The first plenary session featured a keynote address by Professor Rhacel Salazar Parreñas from the University of Southern California, who has given a lecture titled Who Cares for the Children? Gender and Transnational Families. Reflecting on her extensive research, Professor Parreñas highlighted the gender lens in migration studies and tackled some of its social implications on the patterns of caregiving in transnational and migrant families. The lecture served as an introduction to the further presentations on the dynamics of change in families "on the move",  the role of children in the migratory decision-making processes, as well as the significance of intercultural education for the integration efforts.

The panel and following debate about the challenges that Europe faces in the times of the so called refugee crises, was initiated by a lecture given by Doctor Daniel Briggs form the European University in Madrid. His presentation Families here, there and everywhere: Refugees families, border stories and coping mechanisms in the times of forced displacement was based on an on-going research he is carrying out on the borders of Turkey and Spain.  By presenting stories from the ethnographic research, Briggs pointed out the lack of solid actions and coherent responses with respect to the European countries reacting to the influx of refugees. His talk sparked a discussion about the Frontex agency, the potential effects of Brexit, broad and specific migration politics, as well as anti-refugee and anti-immigration tendencies observable across Europe.  Methodological and theoretical limitations of migration studies undeniably visible in the current climate of the European tensions further noted. As Randi Waerdahl underlined in her closing remarks to Briggs' presentation, the foundation of migration studies should be an acknowledgement of differences as a category leading further research and recommendations.

The second day of the conference began with the lecture Sending and receiving country perspective on family migration by Professor Anne White from the University College London. Her talk was based on her extensive research on Polish migration conducted over the past decade and focused on the impact of this flow on family dynamics and intergenerational relations. Professor White distinguished the opportunities of linking the two perspectives of the sending and receiving states. Further presentations and debates explored family practices across different ethnic groups and migration destination countries. The papers included studies of intimate practices, motherhood and fatherhood, social politics in sending and receiving countries, and new forms of mobility. Once again the gendered dimension of migration was underlined, in particular in the context of the transnational and intergenerational caring, but also with reference to how social constructions of parental roles determine the constellations of family practices among migrants.  

It was clear that the topic of caring has permeated many papers and discussion sessions. Social and moral obligations of care, and the organization of caregiving in transnational space was largely seen as essential, especially in relation to the processes of diversifying regarding the sources of care, the aging of the European societies, and the roles of differently conceived welfare states. A final keynote lecture -- Expanding our imagination on care through aging- and migration-informed studies --addressed all of the care-related issues. The talkwas given by Professor Sandra Torres from the Uppsala University, who presented the results of her research in Sweden and discussed the main challenges originating from a rapid aging of the Western societies. 

All of the papers and plenary sessions were based on the robust, long-standing and international research endeavours, with many of them featuring results of PhD projects. The debates fostered an in-depth reflection and  multidimensional explanations of the mobility/migration phenomenon. Further, a particularly fruitful scholarly area that the conference explored was the theme of migrant children, as the researchers put emphasis on the invisibility of the children's perspective in a long tradition of migration studies. What is more, there was a tangible focus on the case of the Polish migration, which has intensified significantly after Poland accessed the to EU in 2004. The researchers from the TRANSFAM project have overall presented six papers based on the project's empirical material, collected both in Poland and in Norway. Another important note underscored the meaningful contributions offered by the use of qualitative methodology in migration studies, highlighting its functionality for providing precise and multi-layered descriptions of the migration patterns and transnational practices.  

The Conference Committee and Organizers strongly believe that the Troubling Times for Europe gathering was conducive to broadening the scope of knowledge and scholarly reflection on the contemporary migration processes and transnational families. Moreover, we have are convinced that the debates and exchanges will translate into new collaboration and research endeavours bringing together various research centres and universities across the countries represented by the participants.  We hope that the voice of migration, family and care research will be heard and can guide the debates revolving around the pressing challenges that Europe must address.

More pictures at CONFERENCE 2016

Thank you for all participants!

New publication of CIR team! New publication of CIR team!

New publication is coming soon!


The article

We wanted workers but people arrived

by Krystyna Iglicka, Katarzyna Gmaj and Antoni Wierzejski (Centre for International Relations) was published in journal Myśl Ekonomiczna i Polityczna.


Zaproszenie na warsztaty projektu Transfam



Uniwersytet Jagielloński serdecznie zaprasza pracowników socjalnych na warsztaty, które odbędą się w dniu 23.05.2016 w godzinach 10:00-13:00 w Instytucie Socjologii UJ przy ul. Grodzkiej 52 w Krakowie.


Coraz więcej Polaków i Polek ma za sobą doświadczenie migracji, a pobyt poza krajem znacząco zmienia kształt współczesnych relacji rodzinnych. Wyjazdy osiedleńcze całych rodzin (w tym dzieci), sezonowe migracje zarobkowe jednego z rodziców, a także powroty rodzin i dzieci do kraju rodzą szereg wyzwań dla instytucji oferujących wsparcie członkom i członkiniom tak zwanych rodzin transnarodowych w Polsce i zagranicą. Celem naszych warsztatów jest więc dyskusja i wymiana doświadczeń ekspertów na co dzień stykających się z wyzwaniami niesionymi przez migracje rodzin.

Podczas warsztatów zaprezentujemy wyniki badań dwóch projektów badawczych.

1. Projekt Transfam – „Rodzina ponad granicami. Decyzje demograficzne, strategie rynkowo-instytucjonalne, integracja ze środowiskiem szkolnym oraz życie codzienne polsko-norweskich rodzin transnacjonalnych" (2013-2016) - dotyczy różnych doświadczeń rodzin transnarodowych w kontekście polsko-norweskim,

- doświadczenia dzieci polskich migrantów dorastających w Norwegii,

- migracyjne rodzicielstwo,

- wyzwania szkolne i polityki edukacyjne,

- wizyty w kraju i zapewnianie opieki dla starzejących się rodziców, którzy pozostali
w Polsce.

2. Projekt „(Nie)łatwe powroty do domu? Badanie funkcjonowania dzieci i młodzieży powracających z emigracji" - koncentruje się na doświadczeniach migracji powrotnych wśród najmłodszych.

Zapraszając na warsztat, pragniemy z jednej strony podzielić się interesującymi i ważnymi rezultatami badań, z drugiej zaś chcemy dowiedzieć się, jakie zagadnienia dotyczące pracy z rodzinami migranckimi są najistotniejsze z perspektywy pracownika socjalnego. Warsztat będzie okazją do dyskusji i wymiany doświadczeń na temat wyzwań stojących przed pracownikami socjalnymi w kontekście migracji rodzin. Wspólnie spróbujemy zastanowić się nad możliwymi rozwiązaniami i rekomendacjami, które wynikają nie tylko z badań, ale przede wszystkim z codziennej praktyki pomocy społecznej.

Udział w warsztatach jest bezpłatny, a organizatorzy w czasie przerwy zapraszają na kawę i coś słodkiego. Uczestnicy otrzymują certyfikaty potwierdzające udział
w warsztatach.

Zgłoszenia i pytania prosimy kierować pocztą elektroniczną do koordynatorek wydarzenia:
Dr Magdalena Ślusarczyk (,
Dr Paula Pustułka (

W zgłoszeniu prosimy podać imię i nazwisko oraz nazwę reprezentowanej instytucji lub organizacji. Zgłoszenia przyjmujemy do 20.05.2016.

Serdecznie zapraszamy!




The project funded by a Norwegian grant within the Core 2012 Call of the Polish Norwegian Research Cooperation with awards made by the National Centre for Research and Development