The Marie Curie project SYRMAGINE (2017-2018) focuses on how Europe is imagined by Syrians settling in two of Syria’s neighbouring countries (Lebanon and Turkey) and examines how their imaginations affect their attitudes to seek asylum in European countries. While the project focuses on imaginations of Europe, it also includes the perceptions of those who do not want to migrate further and the imaginations of other possible destination countries and a possible return to Syria in comparison. SYRMAGINE understands ‘geographical imaginations’ of Europe as subjective human conceptions of a geographical location and stresses the differences between ‘imagined regions’ and reality. SYRMAGINE contributes to the academic literature on the active role of imaginations in refugees’ decision-making and has two main objectives: 1) to investigate the relation between refugees’ imaginations and decision-making and to study how the present country of residence compares to Europe (and other countries) as a destination choice, 2) to examine how refugees inform themselves about social and political realities in European countries. The project adopted a mixed-method approach combining a survey, semi-directive interviews and an online ethnography.
Funding: This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 748344.
Information about the data collection, (working) papers, and presentations
- Lebanon: February – April 2018
- Turkey: May-July 2018
Working papers and publications
- Müller-Funk, Lea et al. 2019. Researching urban forced migrants in Turkey and Lebanon: Alternative ways to study a vulnerable population in fragile political contexts. IMIn Working Paper Series 151. Amsterdam: International Migration Institute.
- Müller-Funk, Lea. 2019. Adapting to staying, or imagining futures elsewhere: Migration decision-making of Syrian refugees in Turkey. IMI Working Paper Series 155. Amsterdam: International Migration Institute.
- Müller-Funk, Lea; Fransen, Sonja. Return aspirations and coerced return: A case study on Syrian refugees in Turkey and Lebanon. Amsterdam: IMI Working Paper Series 162. Amsterdam: International Migration Institute.
- Ghabash, Weam; Hatip; Mustafa, Müller-Funk, Lea; Shamaa, Rand; Turkmani, Mouran. 2020. Refugee Perspectives on Migration Policy: Lessons from the Middle East | وجهات نظر اللاجئين حول سياسة الهجرة | Göç Politikalarına Mültecilerin Bakış Açısı. Focus Middle East 03/2020. Hamburg: GIGA.
- Müller-Funk, Lea. 2020. “Research with refugees in fragile political contexts: How ethical reflections impact methodological choices.” Journal of Refugee Studies. https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/feaa013
Conferences and presentations
- Convener of two-day workshop Stay, move-on, return: Dynamics of mobility aspirations in contexts of forced displacement (together with Natalie Welfens), Amsterdam Centre for European Studies, University of Amsterdam, 6-7 November 2019.
- ECPR General Conference 2019, University of Wroclaw, 4-7 September 2019 | Paper “Involuntary immobility and acquiescent mobility: Mobility aspirations of Syrian refugees in Lebanon” | Discussant in Panel Motives of Mobility, Drivers of Displacement ꟷ Cross-Country Analysis.
- IMISCOE Annual Conference 2019, University of Malmö, 26 June 2019 | Discussant in CrossMigration expert workshop led by Mathias Czaika | Paper “Investigating mobility aspirations of refugees in fragile political contexts: Ethical reflections and methodological choices”
- Workshop The Governance of Borders and Migration in the (Southern) Mediterranean: Entanglements of the Domestic, the Regional and the International, University of Amsterdam, 16-17 May 2019 | Paper “Stay, return or move on: Mobility aspirations of Syrian refugees in Lebanon”
- Workshop Lost and gained on the way: Placing “Transit” migration in Europe, Africa and Asia, Leibniz Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin, 13-14 May 2019 | Paper “Adapting to staying or imagining alternative futures: (Im)mobility aspirations of Syrian refugees in Istanbul and Izmir”
- International workshop – Imagining and experiencing through normality and crisis: new perspectives in the wake of the 2015 refugee situation, University of Bergen, 30-31 January 2019 | Paper “Stay, return or move on: Involuntary immobility and future imaginations of Syrian forced migrants in Beirut and Tripoli”
- Lecture Series Les sciences sociales en question : grandes controverses épistémologiques et méthodologiques, Sciences Po Paris (CEE/CERI), 25 October 2018 | Invited lecture “Enquêter auprès de populations déplacées : le cas des réfugiés syriens en Turquie et au Liban”
- Viennese Anthropology Days 2019 (VANDA), University of Vienna, 20 September 2018 | Paper “Stay, return or move on: Involuntary immobility and acquiescent (im)mobility of Syrians in Lebanon”
- 10th DialogForum – Dialogue between Politics, Science and Practice, Danube University Krems, 18 September 2018 | Invited lecture “The role of external players in refugee politics in the Middle East: Lebanese and Turkish policies towards Syrian refugees and geopolitical constellations”
- 2018 IMISCOE Annual Conference, Universitat Pompeu Fabra Barcelona, 2-4 July 2018 | Convener of panel Forced displacement from Syria and Syrian migration rationales (together with Ching-An Chang) | Paper “Involuntary immobility and acquiescent mobility aspirations of Syrians in Lebanon” | Participation in roundtable on Migration Aspirations in a Context of Forced Displacement
- IMISCOE Workshop: Aspirations within the context of changing refugee migration dynamics, University of Antwerp, 1 December 2017 | Paper “SYRMAGINE: Syrian Imaginations of Europe: Theoretical and Methodological Considerations”