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Podcast: Borders and Belonging

Ep. 10 – Statelessness: No country to call home


Season 2 of award-winning podcast launches October 24, 2023

Migration is a complex phenomenon – for individuals, it is a personal journey that can result in struggle or triumph depending on life circumstances; and for countries, it can be an economic driver, a source of social tension or even conflict.

Host Maggie Perzyna, a researcher with the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration program at Toronto Metropolitan University, explores the complexity of migration. In Season 1 of BORDERS & BELONGING, Maggie debunks some of the biggest myths about migration. We’re proud to say the work received a 2023 Silver Signal Award.

In Season 2, Maggie continues her mission to shed light on the voices and stories often overlooked.  She takes listeners on a world tour, asking questions like “What fuels xenophobia in South Africa?" "Is Japan becoming a migration state?" and “How is technology changing the places where people work and the countries trying to attract them?”

With the help of leading academics and professionals working with migrants on the ground, BORDERS & BELONGING shares stories from around the world, spotlighting regional issues and uncovering the global forces that shape them.

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 Season 2 of Borders & Belonging is presented by the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration & Integration at Toronto Metropolitan University. The podcast was produced by LEAD Podcasting, Toronto, Ontario.

Show notes and transcripts

What's the difference between human smuggling and human trafficking? Did migration myths drive the 2016 Brexit vote? Do border walls stop migration?

Maggie Perzyna wants to dispel migration myths: why people leave their homeland and the changes they bring in the societies they move to. Maggie and guests will also think through the global dimensions of migrants’ movement: the national policies, international agreements, trends of war, climate change, employment and more.

Borders & Belonging brings together hard evidence with stories of human experience to kindle new thinking in advocacy, policy and research. Top researchers contribute articles that complement each podcast with a deeper dive into the themes discussed.

Why We Build Border Walls

Since the 1990s, the world has seen a spike in border wall construction. What is driving the increase?

  • The episode begins with a reflection from journalist Todd Miller on the dangers facing undocumented migrants along the US-Mexican border. Host Maggie Perzyna is then joined by Douglas Massey (Princeton University) and Elisabeth Vallet (University of Quebec at Montreal).

How has Brexit Changed the UK for Migrants?

Despite the well-documented benefits of labour migration, much of the discussion before the referendum in the UK argued that it was a bad thing. Now, a few years on, are labour shortages painting a new picture or are migrants forever stigmatised?

  • Alex Bulat, a Romanian-born councillor on Cambridgeshire County Council, provides a voice from the ground. Bridget Anderson (Bristol University) and Aija Lulle (Loughborough University) talk to host Maggie Perzyna about fear of migration and why they feel hope for the future of migrants in the UK.

Human Smuggling or Human Trafficking?Why the Difference Matters

Politicians sometimes talk about human smuggling and trafficking as if they were the same thing. It’s not always because of ignorance: they want to gain support for blocking the flows of all migrants and refugees.

  • In this episode we hear from Luca Stevenson of European Sex Workers Rights Alliance, who explains that, even with sex workers, we have to look at what drives them to the trade in the first place and recognise that laws to prevent trafficking can cause vulnerable women even more harm. Host Maggie Perzyna speaks with Kamala Kempadoo (York University) and Gabriella Sanchez (University of Massachusetts) who argue that we need to look deeper at the systemic injustices behind smuggling, at what drives people to risk everything for a chance of a better life.

When AI is managing migration, should we be afraid? 

Climate change and other disasters are displacing ever more people. Could artificial intelligence help predict impending crises and where humanitarian aid will be needed? Could algorithms be used to match refugees to regions where they will have the best chance of thriving? And what happens when you take human judgement out of the process, or if data is used to exclude some migrants unjustly?

  • Hilary Evans Cameron (Toronto Metropolitan University) starts off the discussion with a refugee case to show that human-decision making, itself, can be dangerously unreliable. Then host Maggie Prezyna speaks with experts Ana Beduschi (Exeter University) and Tuba Birca (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), who walk us through what AI is, how it works and what are its risks, pitfalls and potential for good.

Why has China become an international student hub? 

For years, many students from China sought to further their studies in countries like the US or the UK. But in the past decade or so, China has itself become a hub for international students. In this episode, two leading researchers will shed light on this phenomenon, and help us understand how and why China has become such a popular destination for students globally.

  • Hear what it's like to be a foreign student in China from Aya, who fled the war in Syria with her family and sought refuge in China when she was only 13 years old. Then host Maggie Prezyna speaks with experts Obert Hodzi (University of Liverpool) and Ben Mulvey (University of Glasgow) about the advantages and challenges of studying in China.

The migrants that the West doesn’t talk about

From the way Western media and politicians talk about migration, you’d never guess that only 30% of refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants are heading for the Global North. Instead, most people on the move like this are travelling from one country in the Global South to another.

  • Hear from Vani Saraswathi, a journalist who has spent years documenting the experiences of migrants working in the Gulf states. Then host Maggie Prezyna speaks with experts Nicola Piper (University of Sydney) and Joseph Teye (University of Ghana) to explore the unique patterns and challenges of South-South migration.

Are migrants the answer to labour shortages?

Nations in the global North are struggling with labour shortages dubbed in the media as ‘the great retirement' and ‘the great resignation'. Unemployment rates are running at near-record lows. As a result many nations are letting more temporary migrant labourers in to fill the gaps. Is this a good idea?

  • Hear from Syed Hussan, executive director of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, a group in Toronto, Canada, that comprises farmworkers, domestic workers and refugees, many of them are undocumented. Then host Maggie Prezyna speaks with Armine Yalnizyan (Atkinson Foundation Fellow on the Future of Workers) and Martin Ruhs, (Migration Policy Center at the European University Institute) on the complexity of the labour shortage and how the migrant labour piece fits into the economic puzzle.

Should we call people climate refugees?

As temperatures rise around the planet, floods, drought and deforestation are forcing people in the Global South from their homes and livelihoods. The media likes to call them climate refugees, but is that accurate? This episode will unpack the catchy phrase and guide us through some of the nuanced intersections between the environment and migration.

  • Hear from Daniela Paredes Grijalva, who saw firsthand the consequences of a natural disaster on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and the displacement it caused. Then host Maggie Perzyna speaks with Kathleen Hermans, senior researcher at the Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO) in Halle, Germany, and Robert McLeman, professor of geography and environmental studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada, and a policy adviser on the effects of climate change and global migration patterns.

Are Ukrainian refugees still 'temporary'?

Since February 2022, over 19M Ukrainians have fled their country. Almost half probably remain spread across the world, most of them in Europe. They are considered temporary refugees – but are they really temporary? Where are these people, and what challenges face their host countries?

  • This episode begins with Aleksandra and Michał Miszułowicz, a couple in Poland who helped resettled thousands of Ukrainian refugees as soon as the conflict began in 2022. Host Maggie Perzyna is then joined by Izabela Grabowska (Kozminski University in Poland and Centre for Research on Social Change and Human Mobility) and Yuliya Kosyakova (Otto Friedrich University Bamberg and Research Institute of the Federal Employment Agency in Nuremberg).

Does brain drain hurt the Global South?

Many countries are mining the Global South for one of its vital natural resources – its people. This creates a ‘brain drain’ of professionals and academics leaving the Global South in search of better opportunities abroad. Why exactly is this happening, though, and what is the socio-economic harm done to the countries left behind?

  • Hear from Kevin Njabo, who is a conservation biologist that grew up in Cameroon but had to go to Nigeria to study and the US to pursue his academic career. Then host Maggie Perzyna turns to two esteemed researchers delve into this topic: Ninna Sørensen (Danish Institute for International Studies) and Manuel Orozco (Inter-American Dialogue and Harvard University Center for International Development).

In Season 2 of Borders & Belonging, host Maggie Perzyna continues her mission to shed light on the voices and stories often overlooked. She takes listeners on a world tour, asking questions like “what fuels xenophobia in South Africa? Is Japan becoming a migration state? And “how is technology changing the places where people work and the countries trying to attract them?”

With the help of leading academics and professionals working with migrants on the ground, Borders & Belonging shares stories from around the world, spotlighting regional issues and uncovering the global forces that shape them.

Why are so many undocumented migrants in the US Indigenous?

Every year, hundreds of thousands of migrants from Central America and Mexico make their way to the US border, fleeing violence, environmental destruction, persecution, and displacement. Many of these migrants are from Indigenous groups. This episode explores the historical roots of this migration, and how the echoes of colonialism are shaping the journey of Indigenous migrants.

  • The episode begins with a reflection from Odilia Romero, (Comunidades Indígenas en Liderazgo), with critical analysis from guests Shannon Speed, Chickasaw Nation (UCLA) and Asad L. Asad, (Stanford University).

How border policies in the Americas are pushing people to travel across the treacherous Darién Gap

The Darién Gap, also dubbed as “Hell on Earth”, has become a leading transit point for migrants in search of work and safety in North America since authorities have cracked down on other routes by air and sea. In this episode, host Maggie Perzyna investigates how global migration regimes push migrants to risk their lives for a chance at a better life.

Guests: Robert, Venezuelan migrant who crossed the Darién; Edwin Guillermo Viales Mora, Data and Research Assistant and Missing Migrants Project Focal Point, International Organization for Migration; Caitlyn Yates, PhD candidate, University of British Columbia.

Why is xenophobia so entrenched in South Africa?

In contrast to the late Desmond Tutu's hopeful aspirations for the "rainbow nation" and his efforts to champion human rights, post-apartheid South Africa has been marked by xenophobic violence, adding insecurities for both citizens and foreign nationals. In this episode, host Maggie Perzyna asks why xenophobia has become so entrenched across the political spectrum, and connects the dots between apartheid, economic development and the scapegoating that’s directed toward the state. 

Guests: Silindile Mlilo, PhD research fellow and Project Manager at Xenowatch, African Center for Migration and Society, University of Witwatersrand; Trevor Ngwane, Director of the Center for Sociological Research and Practice, University of Johannesburg; and Loren Landau, Professor, University of Oxford and University of Witwatersrand, African Center for Migration and Society.

Brokering borders: EU bilateral agreements and the price of ‘return migration’

In the pursuit of controlling its external borders, the European Union has forged numerous bilateral agreements with African countries. These agreements are not just pieces of paper, they're instruments that wield immense influence over the movement of people between Europe and Africa. In this episode, host Maggie Perzyna seeks to understand how EU bilateral agreements are reshaping the migration dynamics on both continents.

Guests: Leander Kandilige, Senior Lecturer at the Center for Migration Studies, University of Ghana; Amanda Bisong, PhD candidate at Vrije Universiteit and policy officer with the Center for Africa Europe Relations; Andrew Geddes, Chair in Migration Studies and Director of the Migration Policy Center at the European University Institute.

Migration & technology: The rise of digital nomads

A small but increasing number of today's knowledge workers are breaking free from traditional offices, using technology to craft a life that blends work, travel and freedom. In this episode, host Maggie Perzyna and her guests dive deep into the changing nature of work and the rise of digital nomads. What is driving this growing phenomenon, and how are countries around the world and local communities dealing with it?

Guests: Holly Vipond, former digital nomad; Anna Triandafyllidou, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration at Toronto Metropolitan University; Dave Cook, PhD researcher at University College London.

The Arctic: Climate, resources and migration in times of change

While the Arctic has been home to Indigenous peoples for millennia, settlers in the past few centuries have been drawn to the region's remote wilderness, majestic landscapes and ample resources. More recently, global market forces and climate change are shaping migration to the Arctic in new and complex ways.

Guests: Malini Sengupta, coordinator at the Yellowknife Immigration Partnership; Roger Norum, Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Oulu; Timothy Heleniak, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio.

Is Japan turning into a migration state?

Despite its historical reputation for social, political, and legal closure and a certain reluctance towards admitting immigrants, Japan is taking steps towards a more inclusive national immigration policy. In this episode, host Maggie Perzyna and her guests explore the evolving role of Japan as a migration state, shedding light on innovative policies and their potential to bring about transformative changes in Japanese society.

Guests: Nicholas A. R. Fraser, Senior Research Associate at CERC Migration; Nana Oishi, Associate Professor in Japanese Studies at the University of Melbourne; Ito Peng, Professor of Sociology and Public Policy, Director of the Centre for Global Social Policy, and Canada Research Chair in Global Social Policy at the University of Toronto.

Rising tides, sinking roots: Climate change, adaptation and mobility in Pacific Island nations

Land is a critical component of Pacific Island societies, and the impact of climate change on these populations is a growing global concern. Host Maggie Perzyna, along with esteemed guest researchers and a community consultant from one of the world's lowest lying countries, seeks to understand the regional implications of climate change and the role the international community needs to play in supporting adaptation strategies.

Guests: Robert Karoro, consultant from Kiribati; Tammy Tabe, Oceana Research Fellow at East West Center in Hawai'i; John Campbell, retired Associate Professor and Research Associate at the University of Waikato in New Zealand.

From oil to innovation: Changing economies in the Gulf

Did you know that the Middle East holds the world's highest ratio of migrants to its national population? From historical ties to the oil economy to the burgeoning knowledge-based economies of today, host Maggie Perzyna explores how evolving economic landscapes in the Gulf are reshaping migration dynamics.

Guests: Deepak Unnikrishnan, Assistant Professor at NYU Abu Dhabi; Laure Assaf, Assistant Professor at NYU Abu Dhabi; Hélène Thiollet, Research Fellow at the French National Center for Scientific Research at Sciences Po.

Statelessness: No country to call home

In the Season 2 finale, host Maggie Perzyna asks her guests: What does it mean to live without a nationality? This episode of Borders & Belonging will dive into the complexities behind statelessness, its causes and social realities, and the far-reaching effects it has on individuals and communities.

Guests: Rintu Borah, PhD candidate at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay; Noora Lori, Associate Professor at the Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University; Allison Petrozziello, instructor at Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University.