Public Lecture by Seyla Benhabib – June 29, 2022

12:00 PM EST

The Crisis of International Law and its Implications for the Refugee Convention

Welcome comments by Rainer Forst (Frankfurt)
Introduction by Ayelet Shachar (Toronto/Frankfurt)

This workshop is organized by the Transformation of Citizenship Leibniz Research Group at the research centre “Normative Orders” of Goethe University and co-sponsored by the Harney Program and the Research Initiative ConTrust: Trust in Conflict.

International Research Workshop: Borders, Territory and Rights: Changing Legal Cartographies of Migration and Mobility, June 30-July 1, 2022

De-territorialization measures enable states to create not only lawless zones but also
“rightless subjects.” How can we prevent this erosion of rights-protection and the
transformation of migrants into abject subjects?

Ayelet Shachar proposes that we stretch our political imagination and legal apparatus
to “rein in” countries, for instance, by creating a link between the exercise of border-control
powers and rights-protection mechanisms irrespective of where the encounter occurs
between the migrant and state authority, in effect having “rights follow the (shifting) border.”
Seyla Benhabib asks members of the demoi to adopt a more radically cosmopolitan
perspective that at once acknowledges their own responsibility in generating migratory
movements while also focusing on more regional and local institutions of refugee
admittance, entry and integration.

This combination of institutional and democratic possibilities opens up new routes for
resistance and claims-making in a world of shifting borders and cosmopolitanism without

This workshop is organized by the Transformation of Citizenship Leibniz Research Group at the research centre “Normative Orders” of Goethe University and co-sponsored by the Harney Program and the Research Initiative ConTrust: Trust in Conflict.

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Harney Lecture Series

Sponsored by the R.F. Harney Program in Ethnic, Immigration and Pluralism Studies and the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, the Harney Lecture Series brings prominent scholars and practitioners from around the world to explore cutting-edge topics in citizenship, migration, and diversity and to enrich the research community at the University of Toronto.

All events (unless otherwise stated) will be open to the public and require pre-registration at the Munk School event registration URL.

Please contact for all questions regarding the lectures.
Visit this page frequently for event updates.

Past Events

Harney Lecture Series ― March 31, 2022, 4:10 ― 6:00 pm

Care and the Commons: Experiments in Alter-politics

Lecture by Miriam Ticktin, Associate Professor of Anthropology, CUNY’s Graduate Center
Ayelet Shachar (moderator), R.F. Harney Chair in Ethnic, Immigration and Pluralism Studies, Munk School
Ticktin headshot 2020

This talk will discuss a set of ethical-political configurations that are increasingly emerging in cities – they take the shape of what I’m calling a decolonial, feminist commons. In the face of extreme inequality and disenfranchisement, people are coming together in various ways to challenge regimes of private property, and to enact new forms of horizontal, structural care (which differ significantly from humanitarian care). I will discuss several such commoning practices, which include the occupations of public spaces and buildings by undocumented migrants, forms of mutual aid such as free fridges and stores, and affective and political configurations that respond to the Covid19 pandemic, often inspired by the Movement for Black Lives. The goal is to think about a non-innocent ethics and politics of living together in a world where – as Covid19 has rendered clear — we are in a life-and-death embrace with each other that no one can escape.

Miriam Ticktin is Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Ph.D Program in Anthropology at CUNY’s Graduate Center and author of many articles, essays and books, including Casualties of Care: Immigration and the Politics of Humanitarianism in France (2012, University of California Press).

Harney Lecture Series ― March 10, 2022, 4:10 ― 6:00 pm

Majority Minority 

Lecture by Justin Gest, Associate Professor of Policy and Government, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University 

Co-sponsored by the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs and Jean Monnet Chair at York University

PhotoHow do societies respond to great demographic change? This question lingers over the contemporary politics of countries where persistent immigration has altered populations and may soon produce a “Majority Minority” milestone. Until now, most of our knowledge about responses to demographic change are based on studies of individual people’s reactions; they are defensive and intolerant. Why and how are these instincts sometimes tempered to promote more successful coexistence? Grounded in rich narratives and novel statistical data, George Mason University political scientist Justin Gest reveals the way this contentious milestone and its accompanying identity politics are ultimately subject to good governance.

Justin Gest is an Associate Professor of Policy and Government at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government. He is the author of six books on the politics of immigration and demographic change. He co-founded and co-edits the Oxford University Press book series, “Oxford Studies in Migration and Citizenship” in 2020, and co-founded the Migration Studies Unit at the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2007. He has provided reporting or commentary for ABC, BBC, CBC, CNN, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, NPR, The New York Times, Politico, Reuters, Vox, and The Washington Post. In 2014 and 2020, Professor Gest received Harvard University’s Joseph R. Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize and the George Mason University Teaching Excellence Award, respectively each university’s highest award for faculty teaching.

Justin Gest’s latest book Majority Minority will be released by Oxford University Press in March 2022. 

Access the video recording of this lecture here.

Harney Lecture Series February 17, 2022, 4:10 6:00 pm

Out of Line: Queuing as a Distributive Principle and the Politics of Migration

Lecture by Elizabeth F. Cohen Professor of Political Science, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University.
Ayelet Shachar (moderator), R.F. Harney Chair in Ethnic, Immigration and Pluralism Studies, Munk School

Access the video recording of this lecture here.

Elizabeth Cohen_MaxwellProfile PicA common critique of efforts to apply principles of social
justice to policies that affect the disenfranchised is that
the people who benefit are not waiting their turn or are
cutting in line. The framing of people who are offered or
receive help as line-cutters has been remarkably
successful in fanning resentment. This is in part because
queuing activates a powerful but often subterranean set
of reactions and beliefs. This talk will invite the audience
to think about how easily we defer to the authority of
first-come-first served principles, why we do so, and why
this often yields troubling outcomes. Special attention
will be paid to cases involving immigration, refuge, and asylum.

Elizabeth F. Cohen is Professor of Political Science at Syracuse University and Associate Editor of the American Journal of Political Science. She is the author of four books: Illegal: How America’s Lawless Immigration Regime Threatens Us All (Basic Books 2020); The Political Value of Time: Citizenship, Duration, and Democratic Justice (Cambridge University Press, 2018, winner of the APSA Best Book Award for Migration and Citizenship); Semi-Citizenship in Democratic Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2009); and Citizenship (with Cyril Ghosh) (Polity Press, 2019). Elizabeth’s research interests focus on immigration, contemporary political theory, justice, citizenship, and rights. At Princeton, she will work on a book about the political significance of line-waiting and first-come-first-served as a distributive principle. She is also researching the rise of short-term immigration and the casualization of citizenship in the contemporary United States.

Harney Lecture Series January 27, 2022, 4:10 6:00 pm

Reconsidering Reparations

Lecture by Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Georgetown University
Ayelet Shachar (moderator), R.F. Harney Chair in Ethnic, Immigration and Pluralism Studies, Munk School.

headshotMost theorizing about reparations treats it as a social justice project – either rooted in reconciliatory justice focused on making amends in the present; or, they focus on the past, emphasizing restitution for historical wrongs. I will argue that neither approach is optimal, and advance a different case for reparations rooted in distributive justice, which I refer to as the “constructive” view of reparations. I’ll also present some of what I take to be the political and policy implications of this view.

Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University. He works on social/political philosophy and ethics, with an emphasis on figures and themes from anticolonial, anticapitalist, and Black radical traditions. His new book, Reconsidering Reparations, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press. 

CERC in Migration and Integration, Ryerson University, in Collaboration with the Harney Program November 23, 2022, 12:002:00 pm

Canadian Immigration Policy: Opportunities for the Road Ahead

Roundtable organized by Rupa Banerjee, Canada Research Chair in Economic Inclusion, Employment and Entrepreneurship of Canada’s Immigrants and Associate Professor of Human Resource Management and Organizational Behaviour at Ryerson University.

CERC Migration, in collaboration with the Harney Program in Ethnic, Immigration and Pluralism Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and the Canadian Labour Economics Forum, brings together a select group of academics and researchers in a hybrid roundtable to discuss the future of Canadian immigration policy.

The Covid-19 pandemic has produced an economic crisis in Canada, which may take labour markets years to recover from. Assuming that an open-door immigration policy is not the optimal response to the ongoing jobs crisis, there is an opportunity for policymakers to reconsider the objectives within each of the three arms of Canada’s immigration system: economic-class, family-class, and humanitarian-class. Specifically, this roundtable will explore:

  1. Immigration targets: What should immigration level targets be in each of the three immigration classes (economic, family, humanitarian) over the next few years? What factors should be considered to determine these levels?
  2. Immigrant selection: What should the primary objectives of immigrant selection be in each of these three classes over the next few years? Should the focus of economic immigrant selection continue to be on highly skilled applicants or should this be expanded to lower skilled applicants?
  3. The relationship between temporary and permanent immigration: How much should Canada rely upon temporary and/or permanent forms of migration to fulfill labour market needs? Is there an ethical obligation to offer Permanent Residence to particular lower-skilled Temporary Foreign Workers?
  4. Policy Evaluation: How should these shifts in immigration policy be measured to track and evaluate success?  What metrics are appropriate?

Harney Lecture Series November 18, 2021 4.10 6.00 pm

Divided by the Wall: Progressive and Conservative Immigration Politics at the U.S.-Mexico Border

Lecture by Emine Fidan Elcioglu, Assistant Professor, Sociology, University of Toronto

Why is immigration a controversial topic in the United States? Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork spanning 2010 to 2016, I begin to answer this question by examining the motivations and life histories of Americans who are active in politically-opposed volunteer organizations in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. By focusing on activists who, because of the privileges of whiteness and U.S. citizenship, are not directly impacted by immigration policy, I consider why they nevertheless feel strongly enough to engage in this political struggle. I find that division around immigration is rooted in deep phenomena: the long-standing trend of growing economic inequality, racialized anxiety in the post-civil rights era, and ultimately, the search for personal reconciliation. Although Trump amplified these dynamics, he did not create them and they will not disappear in the wake of his presidency. I conclude by discussing how my findings may explain, in part, why immigration is such a polarizing issue and how addressing the underlying problems of social inequality may help mitigate the current contentiousness of immigration and border policy in the United States. Emine Fidan Elcioglu is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. At the intersection of the sociology of migration and political sociology, her research examines how citizens make sense of non-citizenship and national gatekeeping. She is the author of Divided by the Wall: Progressive and Conservative Immigration Politics at the U.S.-Mexico Border, published by University of California Press in 2020.

Harney Lecture Series October 21, 2021 4.10 5.45 pm

Wampum Diplomacy in the Early Middle Encounter Period

Lecture by Douglas Sanderson, Prichard Wilson Chair in Law & Public Policy, Decanal Advisor on Indigenous Issues, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto.
Ayelet Shachar (moderator), R.F. Harney Chair in Ethnic, Immigration and Pluralism Studies, Munk School.

For more than three hundred years, British, French and Dutch officials engaged in diplomatic missions and exchanges according to Indigenous diplomatic protocols. This talk by Douglas Sanderson (Amo Binashii) of the Beaver Clan, from Opaskwayak Cree Nation, outlines some of the ways colonial officials learned to conduct themselves in the international law milieu of the early-and-middle-encounter period in history.

Harney Lecture Series 21 January 2021 2.10 4.10 pm

Ta’al Bachir (Come Tomorrow): The Politics of Waiting for Citizenship

Lecture by Noora Lori, Assistant Professor of International Relations, Pardee School, Boston University

When it comes to extending citizenship to some groups, why might ruling political elites say neither “yes” nor “no,” but “wait”? The dominant theories of citizenship tend to recognize clear distinctions between citizens and aliens; either one has citizenship or one does not. In this presentation, Dr. Lori will discuss her recent book that explains how and why some minorities are neither fully included nor simply expelled by a state. Instead, they can be suspended in limbo – residing in a territory for extended periods without ever accruing any citizenship rights. This in-depth case study of the United Arab Emirates uses new archival sources and extensive interviews to show how temporary residency can be transformed into a permanent legal status, through visa renewals and the postponement of naturalization cases. In the UAE, temporary residency was also codified into a formal citizenship status through the outsourcing of passports from the Union of Comoros, allowing elites to effectively reclassify minorities into foreign residents.

Harney Lecture Series February 4, 2021 4.00 6.00 pm

Racial Borders

Harney Lecture Series February 25, 2021 3.10 – 5.00 pm

Automation and Immigration

Lecture by Kieran Oberman, Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of Edinburgh and Tom Parr, Associate Professor, University of Warwick

Access the video recording of this lecture here.

This lecture was co-sponsored by the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity

Migration and automation are dominant trends of our age. Both are changing how we work and live. When it comes to migration, many voters want tighter restrictions. They are worried that migrants are ‘stealing their jobs’ and ‘changing the culture’. Politicians are responding with promises to get tough. Automation is different. People worry about automation but not in the same way. Voters are not calling for the numbers of machines to be reduced or even controlled. There are no anti-robot political parties. Politicians do not win elections by getting tough on computer chips.

The question is ‘why?’ Why is there such significant opposition to migration and yet so little to automation? Why limit migrants but not robots?

The paper asks these questions not only in relation to the public debate on migration but also the debate amongst philosophers. In the first part, it looks at some of the main philosophical arguments for immigration restrictions and shows how the arguments apply equally to automation. In the second part, the paper offers a hypothesis as to why migration, not automation, generates public opposition. It is human to classify other humans in terms of in-groups and out-groups. Migrants, being human, are readily identified as an out-group. Machines are not human. In short, anti-migrant prejudice seems to explain the difference. If prejudice is so crucial in explaining opposition to immigration, we have further reason to doubt the permissibility of immigration restrictions.

Harney Lecture Series ― March 12, 2021 12.00 – 2.00 pm

The Rise of Authoritarianism and Populism: Challenges to Critical Analyses of Law

Panel with Professor Guenter Frankenberg, Goethe University, Frankfurt; Helena Alviar Garcia, Science Po Law School, Paris; Bojan Bugaric, University of Sheffield

Co-sponsored with Critical Analysis of Law Workshop, Faculty of Law, & Max Planck Fellow Group in Comparative Constitutionalism

Harney Lecture Series ― March 25, 2021 2.00 – 4.00 pm

How Embedded Interventions Controlled Contagion: Ideas, Institutions and the First Vaccine in China and India

Lecture by Prerna Singh, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies, Brown University

Access the video recording of this lecture Part 1 and Part 2

Co-sponsored with the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity and the Centre for South Asian Studies, Asian Institute, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy