By Neil Adger
The COVID-19 pandemic is producing substantial changes in the practices and experiences of migration and mobility. The personal transition of everyone who moves during their lifetime and how such transitions affect the sustainability of societies are being radically altered.
Research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and Belmont forum (projectMISTY.org) examines how individuals transform their lives and life chances every day, often in ways that contribute to the greater good and even to sustainability. The COVID-19 pandemic is throwing up stark dilemmas for mobility and migration everywhere. The pandemic is framed as one of biosecurity (i.e. the need to protect against biological risks), thus putting migration in the spotlight, as the virus is perceived as coming from ‘somewhere else’, brought to each locality by travel and movement of people. Widespread economic shutdown and travel restrictions have highlighted how human mobility initially enabled the spread of the virus globally. It is evident that the public health response affects marginalised populations, including migrant populations, in specific forms of stigma and blame on migrant populations: fear of the virus spreading, of international or local disease transmission. The research is collecting data directly on the biosecurity and economic impact of the crisis with a group of migrant participants in six cities globally (Amsterdam, Brussels, Dhaka, Maputo, Accra and Worcester) to create a comparative dataset across migrant contexts.
MISTY: Migration, Transformation, Sustainability