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We are thrilled to announce Gerawork Teferra has been awarded the “Voltaire Prize 2024 for Tolerance, International Understanding and Respect for Difference”. See the University of Potsdam Press Release HERE

Gera is one of two Voltaire Recipients in 2024 who are committed to the freedom of research and teaching in a special and yet very different way. The Belarusian political scientist and publicist Olga Shparaga and the Ethiopian humanities scholar and educator Gerawork Teferra Gizaw will be honored. In recognition of the outstanding commitment of the two researchers, the Friede Springer Foundation has provided a one-off total of 5,000 euros for the prize endowed with 10,000 euros this year. Originally from Ethiopia, Gerawork Teferra Gizaw lives and works in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, where the Potsdam historian Prof. Dr. Marcia Schenck met him in 2016 as a participant in her course on global history. “He learned incredibly quickly and acquired the skills of an oral historian, which he then used to explore different facets of camp life,” says Schenck. “Our encounters in the camp’s makeshift classrooms marked the beginning of an enriching collaboration that resulted in joint publications, instructional initiatives, and enlightening discussions.”


This is an important and exciting year for Gera who was also  awarded the scholarship for the Imagining Futures – Routes Scholar in Residence Programme 2024 in Exeter, UK. Gera’s project will research histories of human mobility and the implications of the latter for present-day laws and protocols related to ‘undesirable’ forms of mobility. As part of the Scholar in Residence programme Gera will present, as our guest of honour, his preliminary findings of this project at the Routes workshop ‘Exploiting mobility: governments, law and the instrumentalisation of movement’ in March 2024. Gera’s project, which aims to use historical perspectives on mobility to examine present day-laws and protocols related to migration is one that will be an excellent and important addition to the March Routes workshop. Gera’s approach is one that will bring a fresh perspective to questions of present-day regulation of mobility by nation-states.  This vital opportunity for Gera’s in-person 6-week residency will enable Imagining Futures and Routes to facilitate Gera’s research, including visits to museums and archival collections, interviews, site visits and introductions to colleagues at the University of Exeter. We are looking forward to learning from Gera’s research on systemic thinking, poverty and development and his work on experiential realities beyond the boundaries of time and place.


Date: 19th January 2024



On the 5th December Routes coordinator Helena Wray published an article in The Conversation entitled ‘Just the rich can do it’: our research shows how immigration income requirements devastate families.

Helena co-authored the article with Katherine Charsley of the University of Bristol. Drawing on the authors' past research into the impact on families of separation imposed by the UK immigration system, the article examines the likely consequences for families of the raft of new restrictions to be introduced by the Conservative government in 2024 to reduce net migration to the UK. These include a doubling of the minimum income requirement for family visas to £38,700. Helena and Katherine describe the increase in the threshold, which will put family visas beyond the reach of over 50% of the UK population as 'crushing for those hoping to reunite their families.'

The article can be accessed in full here.

Date: 5 December 2023



The Routes network will be hosting a workshop from the 14th-16th March, 2024, on the topic of Exploiting mobility: governments, law and the instrumentalisation of movement.

The workshop will be held at Dartington Hall and will be led by the Routes coordinators, Helena Wray, Nick Gill, Ben Hudson and Elena Isayev. It will also have as its guest of honour Gerawork Teffera Gizaw, who we are pleased to announce as our scholar in residence for 2024. Gerawork has an MA in Development Economics (PA), he has completed the Global History Lab and Oral History Research Method courses from Princeton University. A development practitioner, teacher/learning facilitator, and environmentalist; he is an enthusiastic researcher with a strong interest in understanding the systemic thinking, the human condition, community organization, and development. During the period of his time as scholar in residence programme, Gerawork will be carrying out a research project on evolutionary histories of human mobility and the implications of the latter for present-day laws and protocols related to ‘undesirable’ forms of mobility.   

The workshop will provide the basis for a journal special issue. Please find below the full call for abstracts.


Call for Abstracts

Exploiting mobility: governments, law and the intrumentalisation of movement 

Popular understandings of borders and state controls over migration tend to equate movement with freedom and privilege. It is often assumed that states’ (or other governing powers’) primary aim is to limit inward (and sometimes outward) mobilities, and that the ability to move is a privilege bestowed on the deserving. It follows that state law constructs regimes of (im)mobility which, while details may vary over time and space, constitute an organising principle of the world as we know it.

This call for papers adopts a wider remit that builds on critical perspectives in mobilities studies and questions these habits of thought. We are particularly interested in two things: firstly, the ways in which governments enforce or encourage movement for their own purposes and, secondly, the ways in which legal regimes exploit and capitalise upon movements by individuals or populations. Our focus is on how governmental authorities enrol and co-opt mobilities, and the role of laws in doing so. This we see as an important and neglected complementary perspective to the more commonly studied tensions between control and human movement. We understand that ruling powers have complex, dynamic and contradictory relationships with human mobility, which sometimes means that mobility is not only in tension with, but can serve the interests of governing bodies, which range from coercion and control to the production of knowledge, desires and aspirations. Our focus is on the way that states and other centres of power make use of both coerced and free mobilities, noting that the distinction between these two abstract categories is often blurred and contested in practice.

This call is the result of a collaboration between academics working in geography, law and history who share an interest in human mobility. We are interested in work that addresses, over time, why and how governments use law to instrumentalise mobility. We are interested in the self-seeking engagement by those in power with all types of human movement, whether or not it crosses borders or engages with the field of migration law. We particularly welcome perpectives on colonial/imperial practices past and present, as well as contributions from minority, queer, feminist and disability studies. Some of the ways in which this may unfold are: 

  • The use of laws to coerce the movement either of individuals or populations, for example within the carceral system, via deportation or through expropriation of territory;
  • The encouragement of movement into, within or out of a territory over which legal sovereignty is claimed such as through golden visas, guest worker schemes or the imposition of harsh conditions to incentivise exit;
  • Adaptations to and instrumentalisation of movement including that which is formally discouraged or prohibited through, for example, the collection of fees and charges or toleration of an irregular and unprotected workforce;
  • The taxation of mobility of goods and people.
  • Capitalising on the proliferating ways that human movement generates data to more thoroughly surveil and control populations.
  • The use of enforced mobility to ensure wider control over the population or of individual citizens through measures such as exile, transportation, internal relocation, compulsory displacement, or citizenship revocation followed by deportation/exclusion;
  • The design of systems that require mobility or assume mobility-capability, thus extracting time, effort and resources as a condition of individual inclusion and participation.
  • The encouragement of mobility as part of a greater project, for example, to reinforce colonial rule, as part of the nation-building project of ‘settler societies’,or the development of free movement as part of a project of regional integration.

Abstracts may address any aspect of the question including, but not limited to:

  • In what ways does law accommodate and exploit mobility on behalf of states, rather than regulate movement?
  • Are there instances in which purposeful non-regulation, illegality or an absence of law allow states to benefit from mobility?
  • When do governments use law to encourage or enforce mobility? What are the drivers or triggers?
  • How and when do governments use law to harness the potential benefits to them of mobility?
  • What is the impact of these legal measures on those moving and on those who do not or cannot move?
  • In earlier periods of history, how is law brought into play to achieve some of the aims of authorities as noted above?

Please send an abstract of not more than 250 words together with your name and institutional affiliation if any to by 5th January 2024.

Accepted abstracts will be invited to present their work at a one-day workshop which will take place in Devon, UK on 15th March 2024. Some financial support will be available to enable participation, with priority going to scholars unable to access financial support from their institution. The workshop has been organised by the Routes Network at University of Exeter, and will be co-ordinated by Nick Gill, Ben Hudson, Elena Isayev and Helena Wray. Following the workshop, particpants will be invited to work up selected papers for publication either as a journal special issue in a suitable journal or an edited volume.

Date: 5 December 2023