MMB looks back over 2020-21

By Bridget Anderson, Emma Newcombe and Emily Walmsley

It’s that time of year again… the MMB AGM! We will be meeting on 20th October and do hope that many of you can come along. We try and make it an engaging event with a chance to meet people even if, like last year, it’s going to be online. We now have more than 260 members within the University of Bristol, representing almost every School, and nearly 200 more outside. The AGM will be a chance to reflect on our work over the past year – as shown in our latest Annual Report.

We miss seeing our members in 3D and there’s no doubt that something is lost by not having serendipitous encounters, chats when you’re packing up or hearing a stray comment that intrigues. But there are some benefits to being online too. In the past year we’ve developed our web offering with more regular blogs, including a special blog series on Race, Nation and Migration that aimed to renew the debate on how (im)mobilities, race and the national are interrelated. We also now offer more audio-visual content. If you haven’t yet explored it, take a look at our new section On the Record. It features MMB Insights and Sounds, our ongoing series of recorded interviews with colleagues around the world working on different areas of migration and mobilities, along with videos of MMB webinars and events that MMB members have taken part in.

Over the past year MMB has developed two online courses aimed at graduate students and those interested in knowing more about migration and mobilities. We set up ‘Migration, Mobilities and Citizenship: Essential Learning from Research and Practice – a free introduction to migration that takes approximately six hours to complete, based on the Future Learn platform. More than 1,000 people have registered for this course, which features many University of Bristol projects. It has received an overwhelmingly positive response, so do give it a go and pass on the details.

We also ran ‘Migration, Mobilities and Citizenship: The MMB Online Academy 2021– an interactive course taught over six weeks with live lectures, interactive debate and panel discussions. We had participants from all over the world including Colombia, Germany and even one in New Zealand who got up at 3am to attend sessions!

Still, we are keen to get back to in-person activities. On 11th September a band of MMB members gathered face to face for the first time in 18 months to walk together along the banks of the River Severn. The walk was co-organised with the Centre for Environmental Humanities and we learned about the journeys of eels, cargo ships and other non-human movement up and down the estuary. We loved it – and are planning to make an early Autumn walk an annual event.

COVID has encouraged us to think more about outdoor events, and we now have a regular outdoor venue. If you are in Bristol, do try and visit our (de)Bordering project in Royal Fort Gardens. These two plots are a space for reflection, learning, argument, making connections and debordering disciplines and methodologies. We want to think about the research on mobility and environment together, and this is a fantastic place to do that.

There is nothing more natural than movement, but what kind of movement, its histories, how it is both constrained and enabled is inevitably a political (with a small p) conversation. We need to think about natural worlds and social worlds together, and this is a tricky, political endeavour – one that needs the space of the university, and spaces like the (de)Bordering plots, to do so. We’ve gone for cosy events too and had our first Film Group showing at the University cinema in early October. We’re planning for regular film evenings followed by discussions in the Balloon Bar.

Lastly, remember that MMB is here to support you. If you have an idea you want to talk through or a question about impact or you are in search of contacts, do get in touch. We are also happy to publicise new and ongoing research projects you’re involved in, even if they are only loosely connected to migration or mobilities. The easiest way to do this is by completing our online form. We look forward to hearing from you.

Bridget Anderson is Professor of Migration, Mobilities and Citizenship and Director of MMB, Emma Newcombe is MMB Manager and Emily Walmsley is MMB Administrative Officer.

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