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This workshop aimed to bring together scholars concerned with the intersection of political theory, comparative politics, international relations and the study of forced migration. Though hardly a novel phenomenon, forced migration presents a fundamental challenge – in theory and practice – for the construction and regulation of citizenship and borders in contemporary trans/national politics and society.

In this vein, forced migrants prompt more systematic and sustained attention to questions and concerns at the heart of political theory, comparative politics and international relations. In as much as migration and refugee studies have been shaped to a much greater extent by other disciplines (eg anthropology, demography, economics, law, and sociology), a more explicit focus on the ‘political’ can help shed further light on the dynamics and processes involved in the representation, contestation, and control of forced migrants, and, critically, on the powerful effects thereof for democratic governance and civil society writ large.

To encourage such a critical engagement with forced migration studies, the workshop offered the following questions as useful points of departure: How does forced migration shape the nature and direction of contemporary trans/national politics and society in different settings? What is the meaning and significance of forced migration and forced migrants in the contemporary world? How can we understand the politicization of forced migration and forced migrants in political discourse and popular imagination? How do forced migration and forced migrants figure in the renegotiation of sovereignty? What is the political significance of regional and more broadly transnational mechanisms in shaping new forms of regulatory regimes?

The workshop formed part of the series of activities held in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the RSC.