A few thoughts on a recent conference

Train at station. Photo: colourbox.com

Marie Louise Seeberg shares her thoughts about the 19th Nordic Migration Research Conference.

By Marie Louise Seeberg

Researchers go to conferences to present their work, give and get feedback, brush up on the latest developments in their fields of study, learn new things, and get to know other researchers with similar interests.

The Nordic Migration Research Network

As I am writing this, I am on my way back from a conference organized every other year by the Nordic Migration Research network. This conference is organized on a rota basis between the Nordic countries and draws an audience of around 300 scholars mainly from Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, as well as from other parts of Europe and a few from other continents.

The conference site

This year, the conference was held at the Norrköping campus of Linköping University, in Sweden. The two and a half days were filled to the brim, from early morning until the evening, barely leaving time for dinner.

All the plenaries took place at the city’s main congress hall and all the parallel sessions were held at the university campus, ten minutes’ walk away. Norrköping is an industrial town that has risen like a Phoenix from the ashes of yesterday’s textile and metal industries. The town is full of creativity and filled with projects of art and learning. It was a nice place to be.

“Waiting”: nurses from Sweden and the Philippines

I especially enjoyed meeting other scholars sharing my interest in borders and boundaries, liminality, and experiences of temporality. Aslaug and I presented a paper we had been writing together with Taylor, comparing the experiences of nurses from the Philippines and Sweden working in Norway. The other papers in our part of the conference all revolved around mobility, immobility, and temporal aspects of migration. Our aim was to see how using different aspects of waiting could bring out some of the diversity and variety in our material, across expected differences between the two national groups.

We got some useful comments that will help us move this work along into an article that we hope to publish in a scholarly journal. This process takes time. We have been working on the idea since early this year, and although we hope to submit the article before the end of 2018, the peer review and revision process along with the sometimes long waits for actual publication means that you should not expect it to be available before late 2019 at the earliest.

Travelling by train

Since this conference was held at a location more easily reached from Oslo by train than by air, and as train tickets turned out, for once, to be very reasonable, we travelled the old-fashioned way. If I could do that always, I would get a lot more writing done. I would also be a happier person. No carbon emission guilt, no passport and security airport queues, no having to travel out of town and be there an hour before departure.

On the first day of the conference, I got up with the sun and left home half an hour before the train departed from Oslo. Quietly working while enjoying the changing view through the windows, I got to the centre of Norrköping in what seemed like no time at all. If travelling could always be this frictionless, life would be a lot easier for all the travellers of this world, whether they are just going to an academic conference or leaving home to begin a new life.