New initiative puts the spotlight on migration scholarship at York U

The many aspects of human migration will be explored in Migration Matters, a new initiative launching Jan. 22 at York University.

The inaugural event will highlight migration scholarship at York University, and begin by featuring a panel discussion incorporating the perspectives of three accomplished scholars at York University: Professor of Political Science Leah Vosko, Canada Research Chair in Feminist Political Economy; Luin Goldring, a professor of sociology in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies; and Schulich School of Business Professor Andrew Crane, the director of the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business. Vosko, Goldring and Crane will consider the topic “Migration at the margins: Work, profit, or nation building?”

The event will take place in 519 Kaneff Tower, from 2:30 to 4pm on Jan. 22. A reception will follow in the Common Area on the eighth floor and will be hosted by the Centre for Refugee Studies.

Luann Good Gingrich
Luann Good Gingrich

According to its primary organizer, School of Social Work Professor Luann Good Gingrich, scholar in residence at the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University, Migration Matters has been created to showcase the thought leadership, different approaches and perspectives of York University researchers and scholars who are focused on the forced and voluntary movement of populations.

“York’s expertise in migration is rich and varied, spanning a wide range of disciplines, salient topics, and regions of the world, and we hope to build synergies and visibility of this work.  We are offering a series of seminars and panel discussions to promote dialogue on pressing issues or questions related to migration,” says Good Gingrich, noting that an accompanying blog will provide information on upcoming Migration Matters events, scholar and graduate student profiles, new research and publications on migration studies from the York community, and migration-related news.

“We want to bring people’s attention to migration scholarship at York and offer a venue for established and new scholars to talk about their research,” says Good Gingrich.

Leah Vosko
Leah Vosko

In her presentation, Vosko will explore national sovereignty and transnational labour. “This presentation will consider the experience of a group of recently unionized Mexican seasonal agricultural workers in British Columbia, whose visa reapplications were blocked by Mexico and a concomitant complaint by their union to the province’s labour board,” says Vosko. “Through a brief review of this case, it will point to the growing disjuncture between nationally-based labour relations systems and transnational labour and the consequences for migrant workers.”

Goldring will talk about her work on the relationship between precarious employment and precarious migrant legal status, based on a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada funded collaborative project with University of Toronto sociology Professor Patricia Landolt.

Luin Goldring, professor of sociology
Luin Goldring

Goldring and Landolt’s research on immigrant workers’ employment experiences in Toronto examines the effects of several measures including human capital, network, labor market variables, and a change in legal status variable on job precarity as measured by an eight-indicator Index of Precarious Work. They find that precarious legal status has a long-lasting, negative effect on job precarity. Respondents who entered and remained in a precarious migratory status and those who shifted to secure status were more likely to remain in precarious work compared to respondents who entered with and remained in a secure status.

Specifically, Goldring will discuss concepts used to analyze transitions through intersecting work–citizenship insecurities, where prior locations have the potential to exert long-term effects, transitions may continue to occur over the life-course, and gains on one front are not always matched on others.

Andrew Crane
Andrew Crane

For his contribution, Crane will draw on his work exploring vulnerable populations. “I’ll be talking about the business of modern slavery and how the business models of forced labour exploit the vulnerabilities of migrants,” says Crane. His comments are based on his November 2013 publication, Forced labour’s business models and supply chains for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. In it, Crane and his colleagues analyzed how businesses make money from forced labour.  They consider how the structure of the United Kingdom’s economy through “light-touch” regulation of business and a heavy hand on immigration, creates a segment of the workforce, at or near the national minimum wage, susceptible to forced labour.

Good Gingrich says future events will offer the same rich and varied approach to the subject of migration, with researchers contributing their different perspectives and expertise to a central topic.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information about how to participate, contact Good Gingrich by e-mail at


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