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BIRMM research projects

Funding sources are mainly European and national. Ongoing European projects (1 as coordinator, 2 as WP leader) focus on human trafficking, ‘de-radicalization’ policies and human security (with an important focus on migration). Ongoing national research funding of BIRMM can be divided in funding for fundamental research, and applied or policy-relevant research.

Fundamental Research

It is mainly funded by the VUB Research Council or the national Fund for Scientific Research (FWO). VUB members of the BIRMM group have received funding for three large ‘Strategic Research Programmes’ (SRP; each worth 2 million Euros, per 4 years) and two smaller scale ‘Interdisciplinary Research Programmes’ (500.000 Euros) with an important focus on migration and diversity.

  • The first SRP ‘Demographic Challenges of the 21st Century’ studies a.o. the role of migration in the demographic challenges, but also examines aspects such as health, family life, training and career within migrant groups.
  • The second SRP ‘Evaluating Democratic Governance in Europe’ focuses importantly on the multi-level governance of migration and diversity and on the political participation of ethnic minorities.
  • The third SRP ‘Crime and Society: New Challenges’ addresses the policing of non-wanted migrants (detention and forced return) and ‘stop and search’ by the police practices in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods.

The two interdisciplinary research programmes funded by the VUB Research Council (‘Cities and Newcomers: Arrival Infrastructure, Multi-Scalar Statehood and Professional Intermediaries’; and ‘Gendering Ethnicity and Ethnicizing Gender in Policy and Politics’) solely research migration and diversity related topics, exchanging perspectives by historians, criminologists, sociologists, geographers and political scientists.

BIRMM researchers currently conduct 15 research projects  funded by the national research foundation (FWO) which mostly provides PhD funding. Topics are as diverse as: (criminology) food in prisons, migrant detention, stop and search practices; (political science) political representation of ethnic minorities, intersectionality as a criterion for social group representation; (history) migration regulation and policing in the 19th century; (philosophy) harmful cultural practices, health care for undocumented migrants; (geography) post-arrival geographies of refugees, urban asylum regimes and residential segregation; (sociology) and cancer differences by migrant background. 

European, VUB and other research funding sources also allow for research projects on a.o. EU migration cooperation with third countries, the implementation of refugee resettlement policies, the governance of ethnic inequality, every-day discrimination, discrimination inprivate rental housing, the reception of newcomers in education, societal and civic participation of disadvantaged youngsters, the multi-level governance of immigrant integration, counter-radicalization policies and migration regulation in the 18th and 19th century. 

Policy-relevant Research

Most research projects at BIRMM are policy-research related to immigration policies, immigrant integration policies, anti-discrimination policies, language policies, security policies and urban (diversity) policies. BIRMM provides many platforms for organizing and valorizing policy-research dialogues (on diverse cities, in StadsSalonsUrbains; on Gender and Islam, with the Fatima Mernissi Chair, and on EU and multi-level governance on Migration and Diversity.

BIRMM is currently partnering on two H2020 projects: WholeCOMM and BRIDGES. The WholeCOMM is a Horizon Europe 2020 project that explores the integration of post-2014 migrants in small and medium-sized towns and rural areas. The project studies the integration of these migrants through a Whole-of-Community perspective. The Whole-of-Community perspective conceives of migrant integration as an open-ended process that involves interactions between multiple actors – including citizens, long-term residents and newly arrived migrants as well as state, market and civil society actors – and that takes place in specific local contexts. The Whole-COMM project is a collaboration between 12 partner organizations, coordinated by Collegio Carlo Alberto, Italy. The BIRMM-VUB team participates in several work packages and will conduct fieldwork in 3 to 4 small and medium-sized towns in Belgium. You can read more about the project on the BIRMM Spotlight or on the project website.


The BRIDGES-Assessing the production and impact  of migration narratives-  aims to understand the causes and consequences of migration narratives in a context of increasing politicisation and polarisation. In this project, BIRMM partners with the Institute for Social Research in Norway to assess the influence of different types of narratives on the attitudes and decisions of (potential) migrants in The Gambia and Sudan. You can read more about the project here.