Turkey has been a main actor in the Eurasian migration scene, first as a source country, and then as a destination, and transit route for migrants. Some figures illustrate this reality: More than five million Turkish citizens live abroad, mainly in Europe, since the early 2000s around 250,000 immigrants of varying statuses have arrived in Turkey each year. More importantly as of the beginning of humanitarian crisis in Syria, the country has received more than 3 million refugees, making Turkey the host country with the largest refugee population in the world. Aside from the flows of emigration and immigration, Turkey is also experiencing mass internal migration, mostly from rural to urban areas. This type of movement has been continuing since 1950s, although its volume and nature has evolved over time. Internal and international migratory movements often occur in conjunction.
As far as the existing migration research in Turkey is concerned, there are areas for improvement. First, while more extensive research is being carried out covering certain periods of migration history, some other critical periods remain under-studied. Second, some topics and aspects of migration receive little or no attention while others become the objects of repetitive studies. Third, while some studies lack sound research methodologies, others suffer either from narrow-angled disciplinary perspectives or from loose multi-disciplinary approaches. Finally, as a reflection of the general state of migration studies on the global level, the discourses and practices of researchers in Turkey are usually dominated by approaches that have been developed from a receiving country perspective; therefore, Turkish migration research has little “original voice” in international academic and policy debates.
Given its importance as a site of emigration, immigration and transmigration, Turkey provides an excellent setting in which multi-dimensional characteristics of various migration streams may be examined. MiReKoc aims at supporting research on migration issues in Turkey, dealing with both international migration and internal migration movements, and primarily focusing on below areas of migration studies:
- the root causes of migration
- channels and networks of migration
- the integration of migrants in various receiving settings
- government and international organizations’ attempts to manage migration
- sending countries/communities, receiving countries/communities, and migrants as agencies of migration
- forced migration and refugees
- irregular migration
- human smuggling and human trafficking
- dynamics and mechanisms of migration, including those agencies acting in transnational spaces and networks
- specific groups of migrants such as children, elderly, women
- diasporas; transnationalism
- economic absorption of migrant workers and use of migrant labour
- identity question related to migration
- the second or third generations of migrants
- return migration
Generally speaking, the causes of migration are the central focus in the former two areas, while the consequences of migration are the primary consideration in the latter four areas. In short, MiReKoc is comprehensive and inclusive enough to cover the most important migration issues. The aim of MiReKoc is to provide opportunities for researchers and students with different disciplinary backgrounds. The main disciplines are economics, sociology, anthropology, political science, international relations, history, law, demography, urban studies, geography, psychology, and education. MiReKoc promotes multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary research practices. MiReKoc specifically welcomes project proposals with a clear focus on empirical questions and new data. Whereas both quantitative and qualitative researches are considered to be equally important, MiReKoc encourages the use of diverse research methods such as survey research, ethnographic research, and archival research.
MiReKoc pursues the following objectives:
- generating new research on migration;
- expanding spectrums for research and encouraging collaboration between researchers;
- integrating research on migration in Turkey with global studies, as well as those from nearby regions and other settings;
- studying the “close environment” of Turkey, including European, Asian and African countries;
- promoting dialogue between researchers policy makers, and civil society activists.