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The core aim of IMIn is to develop a long-term looking perspective on migration and human mobility as an intrinsic part of global change. This idea inspired us in building up the International Migration Institute (IMI) at the University of Oxford from 2006 to 2017. IMI was founded by Stephen Castles and Steve Vertovec with an initial grant from the Oxford Martin School, which allowed it to develop a new and open agenda for migration research. We benefitted greatly from their support and that of Robin Cohen, when he took up its directorship from Stephen Castles in 2009. 

IMI’s position within an ancient and prestigious university has certainly facilitated our development and growth – making it easier to build networks, secure funds and gain a voice within academic circles. However, as our network of colleagues has expanded, and many previous IMI staff has found new academic and policy positions elsewhere (or in the case of Stephen and Robin, now retired), we feel it is now time to reach far beyond its initial institutional base to allow our collaboration and interaction to flourish more freely across the many countries and institutions in which we now find ourselves. Moreover, the Department of International Development (ODID) at the University of Oxford, which has hosted IMI since its inception in 2006, is no longer able to support the institute in its current form.  It is therefore time to reach beyond its initial roots by transforming IMI into a global research network: IMIn, the International Migration Institute network. 


In establishing IMIn we want to ensure that the legacy of IMI is preserved, that we build on its achievements and continue fostering a network of researchers that is committed to develop new thinking about migration and mobility across the world. We propose four core aims to guide the activity of the IMIn. These take forward the original aims of IMI with a renewed emphasis on greater engagement beyond the academy and finding more effective ways to influence public debates beyond the common focus on ‘policy makers’.

1. To develop a long-term looking perspective on migration and human mobility as an intrinsic part of global change.

Our ethos is one of challenging the idea that migration represents a problem to be solved. Instead, our starting position is that migration is a fundamental human process that is both a cause and consequence of change and social transformation in human societies, whether cultural, political, economic, environmental or technological. Human mobility is likely to bring solutions to some challenges and also create new challenges – and often both may arise from the same migration processes.

2. To explore new conceptual and methodological horizons for understanding and researching migration processes, seeking to challenge theory and look for new approaches.

By endeavouring to increase diversity in migration research, and drawing on migrant experiences from around the world, IMIn aims to challenge and refine existing theories, perceptions and debates on migration. In particular, we seek to resist the biases of Eurocentric and state-led perspectives and to disrupt dichotomous and simplistic ideas of a migrant-sending ‘global South’ and a migrant-receiving ‘global North’.

3. To build capacity for research by actively stimulating the participation of early career and more established researchers, particularly from Africa, Asia and Latin America in research, publications and public debates.

IMIn brings together a network of students and researchers from around the world and seeks to increase their active participation and influence on the terms of debates and research agendas on migration. This will include developing pathways for dissemination of research (primarily springing from the IMIn working paper series) and providing spaces for knowledge exchange and training, both online and through focused workshops and conferences.

4. To create new public narratives on migration that challenge and transcend polarized political debates between ‘pro-’ and ‘anti-’ migration voices.

While we start from the view that migration is an intrinsic part of global change, migration brings fundamental challenges to societies around the world and generates intense policy dilemmas. However, across many parts of the world, public debates about migration are framed by simplistic narratives that obscure these complexities. IMIn seeks to generate counter-narratives that illuminate the profound social, political, economic and moral choices faced by societies as they respond to migration and migrants. Our audience includes policy makers and migration scholars but also the general public in societies around the world with the aim to change public perceptions and understandings of migration. 

Thinking Migration: celebrating imi's legacy

Thinking MigrationThis report features highlights from IMI's ten years developing a long-term and forward-looking perspective on international migration as part of global change.

This 56-page report captures the story of the institute's founding in 2006, tracing its development into a leading global authority on international migration.

Contributions from former IMI staff, and from research collaborators from the Global North and South, celebrate the achievements IMI made over its decade of existing, and look towards ongoing and new areas of research.

Download the report