Festival of European Culture 2016
Dr. Megha Amrith
Dr. Megha Amrith is a Research Fellow at the United Nations University Institute on Globalization, Culture and Mobility (UNU-GCM) in Barcelona. She is trained as a social anthropologist using ethnographic methods, and has published on topics relating to migration, cultural diversity, citizenship, cities and civil society movements. She obtained her PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge in 2012, which focused on the aspirations of Filipino migrant care workers in Asia. She then conducted postdoctoral research at the Centre for Metropolitan Studies, University of São Paulo, Brazil, on migrant rights and urban citizenship in São Paulo and Mumbai, furthering her interest in comparative and transregional approaches to the study of mobility. She draws upon interdisciplinary perspectives from social anthropology, human geography, sociology and urban studies. She is furthermore interested in the connections between academic, policy and civil society circles in understanding global migration, and the expression of these themes in digital and visual media.
Aspirations of Migrants
Recent media and public representations have had the tendency to homogenise migrants and refugees, particularly through their uses of language which anonymises people on the move and which speak of them as a singular ‘mass’. Such representations overlook the humanity of migrants, and the specificity of their personal histories, biographies and experiences. The aspirations of migrants and refugees are complex and overlapping. They often revolve around the desire to educate one’s children, to seek good health and wellbeing, to find a safe and secure environment free from the extremes of violence, conflict or prejudice, to develop and contribute new skills and to broaden horizons through new intercultural encounters and experiences. To aspire is human, yet the possibilities to realise these aspirations beyond one’s own locality are profoundly shaped by the passport and citizenship that one holds, the socio-economic, cultural and geopolitical circumstances that one grows up with and the regional and global structures that govern migration and displacement. Understanding the personal and collective aspirations of migrants can invite empathy and solidarity in a time of distrust, as well as nuance the frames through which we understand migratory movements in the world today.