The Population Geography Research Group (PGRG) provides a forum for population geographers to present and discuss the latest findings of research in the sub-discipline through its conference and publication activities, to debate relevant theoretical, philosophical and methodological issues, and to consider policy dimensions, both in the UK and internationally.

PopGRG sponsored sessions for RGS-IBG annual conference: call for papers

By Adam Dennett - Last updated: Thursday, January 3, 2013 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

The Population Geography Research Group of the RGS-IBG are delighted to announce our sponsored sessions for the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers annual conference, to be held at the RGS-IBG headquarters (Kensington Gore, London) on Wednesday 28th to Friday 30th August.


Sessions and abstracts are listed below.


Should you wish to be considered for a paper presentation within one of the following sessions, please email an abstract of no more than 250 words to the appropriate session convenor(s) no later than Tuesday 5th February.


1.      Emerging Themes in Postgraduate Population Geography: Suzanne Beech (Queen’s University Belfast) and Stacey Balsdon (Loughborough University).

Population Geographies continue to develop theoretically, conceptually and empirically – building upon previous calls to refine the sub-discipline (e.g. Boyle and Graham, 2001). Postgraduates are often at the forefront of these ongoing debates, and this session aims to explore the diverse, yet inter-related, nature of studies within this sub-discipline. It is hoped that this session will be both stimulating and thought-provoking, while providing a friendly and supportive forum for postgraduates to present at a major international conference. We welcome submissions that are pushing the frontiers of postgraduate population geographies forward, and they can be variously theoretical, empirical and/or methodological in their orientation.

Contact: or


2.      The Re-Making of the National in the Age of Migration: Marco Antonsich and Liz Mavroudi (Loughborough University) – session co-sponsored by the Political Geography Research Group and the Social and Cultural Geography Research Group

Contemporary societies have been recently characterized as having entered the age of ‘superdiversity’. Migratory flows in particular have contributed to this transformation, due to the heterogeneous ethno-cultural, and religious background of migrants, as well as factors such as their social status, age, gender, and mobility patterns. Demographic projections also anticipate a future where the boundaries of majority and minority groups will become more blurred.

Within this context, migration scholarship, and geographers in particular, have offered important contributions aimed at exploring transcalar forms of identification, attachment, and belonging amongst an increasingly diverse population. However, we argue that there is a need for further analysis on how the national remains an important site for the articulation of collective discourses and practices.

The aim of the proposed session is to re-invigorate the debate on the role of the national in the age of migration, and to highlight the contribution of geographical research in this. We wish to investigate the ways in which the transformation of societies as a result of migration is associated with a re-signification of the national, understood here as both a discursive resource activated in processes of identity-formation and a spatial context framing and which is framed by mundane/daily practices.

We are therefore looking for empirically-informed papers which explore the re-making of the national both from institutional perspectives (governmental policies, party documents, school curricula, etc.) and lay discourses and practices (happenings, everyday encounters and talks, habits, routines, etc.).

Papers could therefore focus on (but are not limited to) the following questions:

• How does the state seek to ‘nationalise’ migrants and ethnic minority groups through processes of nation-building in dynamic, politicised, and situated ways, across space, and through time?

• How do migrants (first, second and beyond) negotiate national identities and the geographies of difference according to factors such as place, space, gender, age and so forth within their daily lives? How is their resistance and contestation of hegemonic nationalizing discourses conducive to alternative ideas of the national?

• How can the scale of the ‘national’ be made meaningful to migrants, ethnic minority groups, and to members of host society in/at different scales and spaces? How does this relate to perceptions of citizenship, belonging, ‘social cohesion’, multiculturalism and the like? How can the ‘national’ become inclusive and a force for social and political justice, given the increasing transnational connections that many migrants and their descendants have?

Contact: or


3.      The expatriate question? Sophie Cranston (University of Edinburgh) and Jennifer Lloyd (University of Newcastle)

This session is aimed at those wishing to present research which questions and examines the changing nature of expatriate identity and experience. The ‘expatriate’ is a common nomenclature denoting, though not unproblematically, a skilled migrant from the ‘West’ living overseas for a short period of time. It is a form of migration that suffers from “a relative scarcity of studies” (Fechter and Walsh 2010: 1197). Although work on transnational migration has recognised the importance of approaches which ‘bring migrants back in’ (Glick Schiller and Basch et al. 1995) by attempting to ground research within the everyday, multiple and complex realities of transnational life, there remains a need for research which recognises the wealth of embodied, material and politicised expatriate migrations (Blunt, 2007). However, while Fechter and Walsh argue “for the significance of the past on shaping contemporary expatriate mobilities” (2010: 1197), the expatriate question sessions aim to extend the frontiers in which we understand, theorise and practice research on contemporary expatriates. We invite contributions by those whose research aims to explore contemporary forms of this global mobility through research practices and methods which engage innovative and varied approaches to the expatriate question. This session will provide an opportunity for researchers from a range of backgrounds to present their research within a supportive environment, especially those whose research engages cross-disciplinary agenda.

We welcome papers from a broad spectrum of research on the expatriate question, including, although not exclusively those that consider:

• Examination of the embodied experiences of ‘privileged’ migration.

• Technological and communicative advancement.

• Changing nature of immigration legislation and citizenship rights.

• Gendered migration and ‘trailing spouses’.

• Youth migration/ volunteer/ gap year/ lifestyle migration.

• Expatriates in post-colonial spaces.

• Methodological approaches to understanding the contemporary expatriate

Session Format: We propose that the sessions will be divided into two parts. The first will consist of 15 minute paper presentations exploring themes related to expatriate migration. The second will consist of short 5 minute presentations and open discussion on methods in expatriate research- specifically with the focus of progressing our understanding of how we ‘get at’ the messiness of expatriate research.

Contact: or j.lloyd@NEWCASTLE.AC.UK


4.      Education and highly skilled migration across geographical frontiers: Adam Warren, Elizabeth Mavroudi, George Windsor (Loughborough University)

In recent years, the UK’s immigration system has been extensively reformed by the Coalition government with the intention of both stimulating the economy and curbing ‘abuses’ by potential migrants. In particular, new categories of highly skilled migrants (such as ‘Exceptional Talent’, ‘Investor’ and Entrepreneur’) were created to support the UK in its aim of attracting the ‘best and the brightest’ (David Cameron, October 2011). Similar measures have been undertaken in the US, Australia and Canada, countries of the Global North seek to compete in the global marketplace. Yet, in spite of the topicality of this subject and the personal mobilities involved, there has been surprisingly little scholarly research into the impact of these changes on the future migration and career decision-making processes of highly skilled migrants, as postgraduate students or as employees in the workplace (Mavroudi and Warren, 2012, in press). Specifically, there is scope for further work by geographers on how select groups of migrants negotiate changes in immigration policy, as states seek to facilitate ease of movement for the highly skilled whilst at the same time imposing restrictions on migration, thus creating a juxtaposition between open and closed borders (Hollifield 2004). In addition, there is a need to more closely examine where these borders exist, within new geographical spaces or at frontiers that extend beyond a country’s official boundaries. This session therefore wishes to engage with the new spaces of immigration policy, negotiated by highly skilled migrants, which exist within and across borders.

This session will take a broad view of highly skilled migration, to include those with a tertiary qualification or equivalent (Koser and Salt, 1997), and will aim to explore the critical role that geographers can play in researching this topic across various (inter)national frontiers.

Themes could include (but are not limited to) the following:

• Highly skilled migrant negotiation of host country immigration policy (particularly in relation to recent changes)

• New classifications of highly skilled migrants

• Intra-, inter- and extra-territorial restrictions on highly skilled migration

• New spaces and borders of immigration policy control and management

• Highly skilled migration and surveillance

• Highly skilled migration and inclusion/exclusion

• Immigration policy and impacts on identity, career decision making and future mobilities

• Hollifield’s ‘liberal paradox’, and how it affects highly skilled migration.

We are delighted to announce that Eleonore Kofman, Professor of Gender, Migration and Citizenship at Middlesex University, has agreed to act as discussant for this session.

Contact: or


5.      Changes in ethnic geographies and their implications: Gemma Catney (University of Liverpool) and Nissa Finney (University of Manchester)

The geography of ethnic group location has, in recent years, received increased attention in British-based academic research. This has partly been a response to debates in the media and in policy which have been concerned with social cohesion and integration, multiculturalism, and immigration and its consequences (Catney et al., 2011). The resurgence of interest has also partly been driven by the gathering momentum of a body of research which recognises the complex interplay between ethnic group population distribution patterns and processes. Knowledge about the ‘where’ of ethnic group geographies is important if we are to understand inequalities to life chances, and if we are to dispel ‘myths’ about migration and polarisation (Finney and Simpson, 2009). Likewise, the ‘why’ behind these patterns is crucial, and migration, in particular, is an important consideration in studies of ethnic geographies (Simpson, 2007).

This session will have an ethnic group focus and will draw together research which considers patterns of population distribution, the processes behind these patterns, and the implications of these patterns and processes for integration and ethnic equality. This is particularly timely for British-based research given the release of relevant 2011 Census data, which will provide researchers with a chance to update what we currently know about ethnic geographies and to explore what has changed in the last decade. In addition, survey analysis and qualitative work can illuminate the motivations, decisions and experiences of changing ethnic geographies.

We invite papers from the UK and elsewhere, quantitative and qualitative, that address the following themes:

1. Change in the patterns of ethnic group population distributions (including ‘segregation’; mainly residential, but other forms are also welcome);

2. What the processes behind these changes are (in particular internal migration and immigration but also fertility and mortality);

3. The meaning and implications of contemporary patterns and processes of ethnic group population change.

Contact: or


6.      Spatial Analytical approaches to Population Geography: Christopher Lloyd and Chris Brunsdon (University of Liverpool) – Session co-sponsored by the Quantitative Methods Research Group

Enhanced modes of access to a wide array of quantitative population data sources, which include national censuses and other large-scale surveys, has developed in cohort with methodological innovations which have enabled researchers to make the most of these data in seeking to understand population patterns and processes. The session welcomes contributions which apply spatial analytical approaches in population geography applications. Papers may focus on the application of new and innovative approaches, deal with particular problems encountered in the analysis of quantitative population datasets, or focus on what methods reveal when applied to particular datasets and problems.

Although not exclusively, papers are particularly welcome which address methodological developments in the following areas: spatial and local regression frameworks, population clustering, areal interpolation, and spatial interaction models.

The common core to all papers is that they should all show, through one or more case studies, why spatial analysis is important in the exploration of human populations and how developments in methodological approaches and data access offer exciting possibilities for research now and in the future.

Contact: or


7.      Lifestyle Migration and the State: New frontiers for population geography: Kate Botterill (Loughborough University)

This session seeks to explore the diverse and changing geographies of lifestyle migration as an emerging sub-field of migration studies and expatriate population geography. Drawing on diverse strands of population geography, such as International Retirement Migration (IRM) (King et al., 1998) counter-urbanisation (Buller and Hoggart 1994) and expatriate geographies (Fechter and Walsh, 2010), lifestyle migration has thus far been theoretically distinct through its central focus on ‘lifestyle’ in the migration process. Lifestyle migrants are theorised as ‘relatively affluent individuals, moving either part time or full-time, permanently or temporarily, to places which, for various reasons, signify for the migrants something loosely defined as quality of life’ (Benson and O Reilly, 2009,p.621). Empirically, the sub-field is dominated by studies on the motivations and experiences of these ‘privileged’ migrants in a range of locations (Benson, 2011; Casado Diaz et al., 2004; King et al., 2000; Korpela, 2009; O Reilly, 2000). Theoretically, there is an increasing recognition of the interplay between structure and agency in lifestyle migration and a concern with not only the individual experience but the wider structures and institutions that shape lifestyle migration (Benson, 2012; Benson and O’Reilly, 2009). This session aims to provide a forum to explore new frontiers in the study of lifestyle and expatriate geographies with a particular focus on the state as a central actor in shaping lifestyle-oriented mobility. We encourage critical analysis of the role of the state in the promotion, regulation and continuation of lifestyle migration in different parts of the world. We feel that giving special attention to how state policies constrain or accelerate flows would be a critical contribution to this emerging field and of wider interest to population geographers.

We would encourage original papers that make theoretical and/or empirical contribution to the field. In particular we would be interested in papers addressing the following issues:

• Theorising lifestyle migration and the state

• Promotion and packaging of lifestyle migration through state, interstate or public-private partnerships, e.g. leisure, tourism, healthcare

• Access to lifestyle migration e.g. policy regulation through visa, land rights, healthcare

• ‘Flexible citizenship’ (Ong, 1998) and the individual negotiation of state policy/process for a better quality of life

• Inter-state power and geographical imaginations of home/host destinations

• Lifestyle Migration in the Global South

• Intersections of class, gender, age and race in the experience of LM in different states

Session format: The session would be a short paper session (4 presenters given 15 mins for paper) with an introductory keynote paper by Professor Karen O Reilly (20 mins) and a concluding discussion of 20 mins to incorporate questions and reflections (facilitated by Dr Michaela Benson as discussant). It is thought that the session would compliment another proposed session to the Popgeog group on ‘the expatriate question’. This collaboration would encourage more theoretical debate on the links between those lifestyle migration and expatriate geographies.



8.    Gender, migration and mobility: New conversations in population and feminist geography: Kate Botterill (Loughborough University) and Juliet Jain (University of the West of England) – Session co-sponsored by the Women in Geography Study Group

This session aims to explore new and emerging work on gender, migration and mobility, with particular interest to those working at the intersection of feminist and population geography. As we approach the 30th anniversary of Mirjana Morokvasic’s (1984) paper asserting that women are also ‘birds of passage’, substantial progress has been made in geographical research on migration, mobility and gender.


Responding to concerns over the positioning of women in classical explanations of migration, geographers have explored the gendered forms, networks and flows of migration and mobility across different scales and spaces, casting women as agents, rather than ‘followers’, of migration (Boyle and Halfacree, 1999; Kofman et al., 2000; Pessar and Mahler, 2006; Piper, 2005; Pratt and Yeoh, 2003; Raghuram, 2004; Silvey, 2004; Willis and Yeoh, 2000). These critical interventions are on-going and diverse and recent narratives on movement as an embodied practice has elicited new methodological approaches and theoretical interpretations of gendered mobility (Uteng and Cresswell, 2008; Letherby and Reynolds, 2008). These narratives have more broadly demonstrated how identity is shaped not only by mobility but the potential for mobility, and that experience and expectation are shaped by social and cultural contexts.


Broader themes within the ‘new mobilities paradigm’ connect with gendered interpretations of mobility and migration. Gender relationships are constituted by modes (cars, bicycles, trains, planes), infrastructures (roads, stations, airports), and communication technologies (mobile phones, the internet, social media).  In turn by highlighting the experience of movement through conduits of mobility and border-crossings attention is drawn to the liminal nature of mobility (Roberts and Andrews, 2012). This session seeks papers that move these debates forward traversing the theoretical frontiers of feminist and population geography, and bridging work on migration and mobility through the lens of gender.


We invite 15 minute papers on current empirical or theoretical research on gender and migration/mobility. We also encourage submissions from postgraduate researchers on work in progress. Themes include, but are not limited to:


·         Family migration

·         Gendered transnationalism

·         Gendering ‘new mobilities’

·         Mobility as embodied practice

·         Gendered migration policy and politics

·         Migration/mobility and masculinity

·         Migration, mobility and intersectionality

·         Emotional and affective geographies of gender and mobility

·         Innovative methodologies to researching gender and migration/mobility

·         Progress reviews of geographic research on gender, migration and mobility


Contact: or


9.    Modelling for Policy: Dianna Smith (Queen Mary University of London), Adam Dennett (CASA @ UCL), and Alison Heppenstall (CSAP @ Leeds) – Session co-sponsored by the GIS Research Group

Following the popularity of the Modelling for Policy sessions in 2012, we are pleased to be following up in the annual conference this year. This session aims to bring together researchers to report on progress in diverse types of modelling that has direct impacts on a variety of policy domains.  We encourage the submission of papers that present novel use of new or established methodologies using GIS or bespoke models.  We are particularly interested in policy applications in the area of health, population dynamics, crime/security, urban planning and retail.  We intend to represent the interdisciplinary nature of policy research and analysis with a focus on geographic tools and methods.


Papers may include, but are not limited to:


Contact:,, and/or

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