Location: Pleinlaan 5, 1050 Elsene - Floor -1, Rooms: 'Rome' & 'Lisbon'
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Dear VUB-researchers on migration and minorities,

The Brussels Interdisciplinary Research centre on Migration and Minorities (BIRMM) is delighted to present you the final programme of the first ‘BIRMM Research Day’! 



The 'BIRMM Research Day' in a nutshell



We strongly believe in the importance of interdisciplinary cross-fertilization. Getting to know each other will allow us to set up academic collaborations across the disciplinary divides. This can help us to conduct innovative research and to tackle societal challenges.



Both in the morning and the afternoon, we will run a couple of sessions with short presentations, followed by informal roundtable discussions.

Rather than choosing for parallel sessions, we have opted to work with very short presentations (5 minutes!). In this way, you will get an overview of all research that is conducted at VUB on the theme of migration and minorities.

At the end of each session, we will organize roundtable discussions. For each of the presenters in the session, there will be a separate table. Members of the audience are expected to move to the table(s) of the presenter(s) they would like to engage with through comments or questions. In this way, we provide space for informal encounters and more in-depth discussions.

Over lunch, we will explore options for further collaboration in the ‘Food for Thought’ format. Places are limited and registration is mandatory. We encourage all of you to register for this lunch event via this registration link.


Some instructions for the presenters

  • Timing: your presentation cannot last longer than 5 minutes!
  • Format: any kind of format is allowed – PowerPoint, Prezi, simply your own voice…
  • Logistics: please, bring your presentation on a USB stick – we will put it on the dedicated laptop at your arrival and delete it afterwards!
  • Tip: Tell your audience which issues you would like to discuss around the roundtable. Mention them on your last slide or towards the end of your presentation. This allows people to choose for one or more tables.
  • Further questions? Do not hesitate to contact us by email: and

Please note that affiliations in the programme below have been added based on information provided for the BIRMM website. Send us an email if you would like to correct it!





The First BIRMM Research Day starts!

Coffee and tea will be provided.

09:20 – 09:30

Short introduction by the organizers

09:30 – 10:15

Panel Session 1 – Youth and Education

Chair: Karen Celis (Political Science)



  • Laura Emery (Sociology): Differences in sense of entitlement and strategic knowledge between newly arrived migrants in different educational trajectories in the Flemish education system.
  • Karen Stoffelen (Institute for European Studies): Determinants of the recognition of foreign certificates in Flanders.
  • Dounia Bourabain (Interface Demography): The experiences of women in academia.
  • Liesbet De Backer (Cosmopolis): Unaccompanied minor newcomers in Brussels.
  • Jasmien Bougrine (Criminology): About labels and subjective definitions. Methodological challenges in research with youngsters with a migration-background.

10:15 – 11:00

Panel Session 2 – Segregation, Polarisation and Discrimination

Chair: Omar Cham (Institute for European Studies)



  • Lena Imeraj (Interface Demography): Ethnic urban geographies in Belgium: processes of spatial inequity and implication for individual life chances.
  • Géraldine André (Institute for European Studies) & Alejandra Alarcon-Henriquez (Sociology/ULB): The “non-take up” as a resistance. Segregation, discrimination and the youngsters in Brussels.
  • Laura Westerveen (Political Science/IES): Studying ethno-racial inequalities: A critical frame analysis.
  • Pascal Verhoest (Communication) & Arno Slaets (Sociology): The perception of visual ethnical frames: polarisation and diversity.
  • Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe (Sociology): Ethnic discrimination upon request of the property owner?

11:00 – 11:45

Panel Session 3 – Policy Making: Cities and Nation States

Chair: Eline Severs (Political Science)



  • Anne Winter (History): Migration, cities and welfare in a long-term perspective, c. 1500-1914.
  • Ilke Adam (Political Science/IES): Race monologues? Understanding the (dis)connection between anti-racist policies and claims-making.
  • Deniz Ay (Urban Studies/Cosmopolis): Local immigration policy making through knowledge exchanges: welcoming communities transatlantic exchange.
  • Shilpi Pandey (Law): Expression of religious identities in Europe: re-establishing the limits of public and private sphere: a comparative study of European and Indian understanding of secularism.

12:00 – 14:00

Food for Thought (U-Residence)

14:15 – 15:05

Panel Session 4 – Ageing and Health

Chair: Laura Westerveen (Political Science/IES)



  • Tina Pan (Psychology & Education): Activity participation in later life: indoor and outdoor engagement among older Chinese migrants in Europe.
  • Katrien Vanthomme & Hadewijch Vandenheede (Interface Demography): Remigration of Belgian immigrants: does health matter or are there other characteristics at play?
  • Saloua Berdai-Chaouniua, Ann Claeys & Liesbeth De Donder (Psychology & Education): Going beyond giving voice? Reflections on an ongoing study about older migrants with dementia in Belgium.
  • Hakki Demirkapu, Dirk Devroey, Lieve Van den Block, Stéphanie De Maesschalck & Aline De Vleminck (Medicine): Advance Care Planning among older people from Turkish origin in Belgium: An exploratory interview study.
  • Dirk Lafaut (Philosophy): Needs versus rights: moral understandings of health care workers in Belgium regarding access to healthcare for undocumented migrants.
  • Rita Vanobberghen (Medicine), Fred Louckx (Sociology), Dirk Devroey (Medicine) & Jan Vandevoorde (Medicine): Secondary traumatisation: experiences of health professionals during the follow-up of a hunger strike of undocumented migrant workers in Brussels.

15:05 – 15:55

Panel Session 5 – Asylum, Diaspora, and Forced Return

Chair: Soumia El Majdoub (Interface Demography)



  • Zhuyun Song (Linguistics & Literature): The Chinese European diaspora and its writers.
  • Rosella Marino (Institute for European Studies): Researching returnees’ political reintegration in the framework of Objective 21 of the Global Compact for Migration.
  • Omar Cham (Institute for European Studies): Between a rock and a hard place: cooperation on forced return in the Gambia.
  • Kristof Gombeer (Law): Migrant rescue at sea and the promise of human rights.
  • Sara Silvestre (Institute for European Studies):  The interrelationship between actors’ salience assessments: the case of the Recast Asylum Procedures Directive.
  • Bart Lambert (History): The later Middle Ages: a missing chapter in the historiography of transnational migration.

15:55 – 16:40

Panel Session 6 – Policing, Border Control and Security Threats

Chair: Sara Silvestre (Institute for European Studies)



  • Florian Trauner (Political Science/IES): ‘Re-bordering’ yes, but not at EU level: understanding the nationalist challenge on EU asylum and border control policies.
  • Torsten Feys (History): Viapolitics of nineteenth century mass migration: the impact of transport innovations on migration governance.
  • Ayfer Erkul (History): Policing human mobility in a time of increased social control: the local police of Brussels and marginal migrants between c. 1880 and 1914.
  • Safaa Charafi (Sociology & Criminology): Ethnic profiling and policing of refugees and migrants: plural policing, surveillance and invisibility.
  • Iman Lechkar (Political Science/RHEA): From convert to radical: making critique illegible.

16:40 – 17:00

Closing Remarks