Project without external funding

Gender Knowledge in the Governance of Migration

Project Details
Project duration: 08/200710/2007

Recently several international agencies and commissions dedicated important publications to the issue of migration and development, emphasizing the positive effects of remittances sent back by migrants and the increasing number and overall positive role female migrants take (e.g. UNFPA 2006). Parallel to this new development, some even considering migrant women as heroines, a rather old topos - dating back to debates in the early 20th Century - remains important: the trafficked migrant woman. A considerable part of political measures targeting female migrants are against trafficking. Both images of the victim and of the economically active migrant are powerful in defining the current perception of female migrants. They reflect and are linked to certein policies in the governance of migration. At a fist glance these images seem not to be congruent. However, analysing the underlying gender knowledge in the constitution of public perception and in the policy processes, striking similarities of both images reveal. The aim of the research project is to analyse explicit and implicit gender knowledge in the governance of migration, particularly in the migration-development nexus.
The concept of gender knowledge
The analytical tool to analyse gender assumptions of policies and organizational behaviour is drawn from the German social scientists Irene Dölling and Sünne Andresen who introduced the concept of "gender knowledge" (Geschlechterwissen) (e.g. Dölling 2005). "Gender knowledge" does not mean what someone knows about gender in a factual way, thus "knowledge" is not understood as being something objective. It refers to the social construction of meaning and to explicit and implicit negotiations in society. The analysis of gender knowledge can be embedded in a broader post-structuralist perspective in which the generation of knowledge and the relations between knowledge, power, policies and gender are in the centre.
A central assumption in the concept "gender knowledge" is that every form of knowledge, be it academic knowledge or every-day knowledge about causal relations, is based upon a specific knowledge about gender. Also contradictory forms of gender knowledge - reaffirming hierarchical gender orders and contesting them - exist in parallel. Two dimensions of "gender knowledge" can be identified: Firstly "on the difference between the sexes, the reasoning about the "selfevidence" and evidence, the normative concepts about "correct" gender relations and divisions of labour between men and women" (Andresen/Dölling 2005: 175, own translation). Secondly the term encompasses biographical and collective forms of knowledge which have been appropriated individually (ibid.). Both of these dimensions can be found in three forms of knowledge: 1. Rather tacit an unreflected everyday knowledge and knowledge of experience. 2. Knowledge and meanings generated by institutions such as religion, academia, law etc. 3. Popularized knowledge which is dispersed through media, guidebooks, social movements etc. It is an important link between everyday and expert knowledge.
Approaching the oppositions in the portrayal of female migrants from the analytical perspective of gender knowledge allows to explain the background of such contraditions, to grasp several levels of analysis, and to refer to agency, in particular the production of knowledge. Applied to the broader policy field of migration, migration theories and policies are supposedly based on distorted gender assumptions in terms of migration movements, their causes, patterns and consequently policies. Thus it is the aim of the project to analyse the often invisible, embedded codes of knowledge orders in the production of theories on migration as well as its governance. The part of the project which is carried out during the mobility aims at focusing specifically on the migration-development nexus, both in theory and policy, and its gendered foundations and implications.
Theoretical and methodological approaches and work program
The generation of knowledge and the relations between knowledge, policies and gender will be analysed in the first step. As such an analysis for the proposed field has yet to be done, it will be referred to other policy fields, such as a body of literature dealing with the relation between development, sciences and policies or environmental studies. These studies mostly don"t analyse the role of gender. Hence, studies on the genderedness of policies and of theories will be reviewed in order to create an analytical framework on how to analyse the gendered knowledges in migration theories and policies.
In the second step a political science approach on knowledege markets will be used, developed by Frank Nullmeier (wissenspolitologischer Ansatz) (e.g. Nullmeier 1993). Its main idea is that of a "market for knowledge" in which perceptions of problems and knowledges compete with each other. Hence, it will first be analysed which knowledge on gender & migration succeeds in being acknowledged as legitimate knowledge on the market, respectively in the governance of migration. Which theories and data are the main references? Is the knowledge market on migration gender-blind or gender-biased? In a second step the processes of hierarchisation of knowledge will be analysed more deeply: Which mechanisms and field-specific norms result in dominant and subordinate knowledge? Who are the authoritative actors and organisations in die field? How stable is the configuration and how did it develop over time?
The research project is part of the work programme of JERP 5.3.4 (Gender in International Political Economy) and of a larger research project located at the University of Kassel.

Last updated on 2017-11-07 at 15:01