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Call for Papers Temporalités n° 32 (2020/2) – « Time and migrations »

Guest Editors: Delphine Mercier, Sylvia Chiffoleau and Jens Thoemmes

From a multidisciplinary perspective, we wish to bring together in this dossier contributions that deal explicitly with the times and temporalities of migration. Although "time" is often used in the titles of articles or books on migration, it must be noted that this concept of time often remains in a state of illustration. The last book on migration that used the term "temporalities" stated that "temporalities are a common entry point in the approach to international migration, but often remain only an implicit or even unthought dimension of it" (Baby-Collin et al. 2017b). Yet, with this stimulating work, the authors attempt to broaden the diachronic and sequential thinking on migration to include a multiplicity of social times (Gurvitch), questions relating to circulation, generations, representations and memory.

On the whole, the literature on migration has approached the question of the time of migration from several angles. Three of them are given here by way of example: journeys, transit and waiting, and institutional categories.

The work of anthropologists, geographers, historians and sociologists has looked more specifically at times of migration (Sayad, 1999) and journeys. The temporalities are often described as "pioneer fronts", as extensions of time during the different stages of the migratory journey. Migrants, refugees, foreigners and temporary seasonal workers, moving in an in-between and between places, gather around "walls of memory" (Vidal, 2005). Displacement becomes time in negative, because there is no more space. We are also witnessing a paradigm shift in the nature of migration towards mobility (Tarrius, 1992; Cortès and Faret, 2009; Pellerin, 2011) with important consequences on temporalities. From this perspective, reversible, temporary or circular movements generally break with the idea of a definitive departure and arrival, with the presumption of a single route or a previously traced path.

Work has also focused on transit times (Bredeloup, 2013) and waiting times. In describing the lengthening of waiting times at each stopover during transit, some authors conclude that awareness of lost time is not necessarily so, since each stage is also an experience that reinforces learning. Other contributions show, on the contrary, that in waiting times, time becomes a confined time, and the absence of learning and encounters then renders this time useless (Kobelinsky, 2014). We speak of confined time, imprisoned time, private time. Finally, other authors studying the strengthening of migration control policies in Europe or the United States demonstrate the increase in "pockets" of waiting time along the journey of aspiring migrants. These "waiting pockets" do not only concern applicants, but are also linked to the restriction of the conditions for obtaining a residence permit, which delays the access to a regular status for foreigners already present on the territory. They are thus condemned to live in an "eternal present" with multiple restarts (Courant, 2014). The time of passage and papers is suspended and constantly postpones other temporalities.

Institutions also impose their temporalities, and it is these temporalities that also structure the migratory space. These temporalities vary according to institutions, national and international laws, intermediate bodies (transit countries) and of course according to scales, from the international to the most local level. Moreover, a whole vocabulary of classifications based on temporal categories has been developed: "newly-arrived", "permanently settled", "long-term visa", etc. are only examples that refer to the times of institutions.

We see the interest, within and beyond these three sets, pathway-waiting-institutions, to broaden the perspective by integrating objective and subjective ways of conceiving the time of migration, by dealing centrally and concretely with the concepts that refer to it: generation, boredom, wait, ages (minority/majority in particular), duration, separation, events, etc.

How can the status and evolution of migration be informed by an analysis of temporalities? Does the shift from traditional migration to mobility, the reversibility of movements, and return journeys not indicate that temporalities should henceforth be a privileged area for the analysis of migration practices? Do not the relationships to migrants' times, between short times (urgency of departures, passages) and long times (institutions, transit, life project), allow for alternation where a vision of linearity and the departure/arrival sequence often reduce the complexity and depth of experiences?

The aim of this issue is not to give way to "reverse linearity" (Green, 2002), which for analyses of migratory journeys means going backwards from the country of arrival to the country of departure, but rather to place the analysis of the temporalities of migration as lived times and not only as times whose meaning is that given by those who organize them. It is essential to deal with times of migration that include both objective and subjective aspects.

These issues, elements and concepts are only examples of a debate that needs to be deepened and broadened. Faced with these methodological and theoretical challenges, we would like to invite contributions from the whole range of human and social sciences. Proposals favouring empirical research will be particularly welcome.

Submission of draft articles:

Authors should send their article proposals to the guest editors Delphine Mercier (, Sylvia Chiffoleau ( and Jens Thoemmes (, with a copy to the journal's managing editor (

This proposal, consisting of a title and a one-page summary in French or English of the draft article (maximum 5,000 characters), as well as the name, contact details and institutional affiliation of the author, is expected by 6 April 2020.


Receipt of proposals (abstracts of up to 5,000 characters): 6 April 2020
Coordinators' reply: 20 April 2020
Receipt of items (maximum 50,000 signs): 2 June 2020
Return of appraisers' expertise: 10 July 2020
Revised version: September 3, 2020
Final versions: November 2, 2020
Release date: December 15, 2020


Baby-Collin Virginie, Mazzella Sylvie, Mourlane Stéphane, Regnard-Drouot Céline, Sintès Pierre (dir.), 2017. Migrations et temporalités en Méditerranée : les migrations à l’épreuve du temps (XIXe-XXIe siècle), Karthala-Maison méditerranéenne des sciences de l'homme, Paris.

Bouagga Yasmine, 2014. « Le temps de punir. Gérer l’attente en maison d’arrêt », Terrain, n° 63, p. 86-101.

Bourdieu Pierre, 1997. Méditations pascaliennes, Paris, Éditions du Seuil.

Bredeloup Sylvie, 2013. « Les temps du transit dans la migration africaine », Journal des africanistes, no 83/2 (juillet), p. 58-90.

Bret Julien, 2012. « Temps migratoires en tension : Les temporalités produites et vécues du travail domestique global au Liban », Temporalités, no 15 (mai).

Chantraine Gilles, 2004. « La mécanique du temps vide. Structure sécuritaire et réactions individuelles au temps carcéral en maison d’arrêt », in Sociologie pénale : système et expérience. Pour Claude Faugeron, D. Kaminski et M. Kokoreff (éd.), Coll. Trajets, Érès, p. 257-271.

Cortès G., Faret L., 2009. Les circulations transnationales. Lire les turbulences migratoires contemporaines, Paris, Armand Colin.

Green Nancy L., 2002. Repenser les migrations. 1re Édition. Le nœud gordien. Paris, Presses universitaires de France.

Kobelinsky Carolina, 2010. L’accueil des demandeurs d’asile. Une ethnographie de l’attente, Paris, Éditions du Cygne.

Kobelinsky Carolina, 2014. « Le temps dilaté, l’espace rétréci. Le quotidien des demandeurs d’asile », Terrain, n° 63, p. 22-37.

Leclerc-Olive Michèle, 2015. « Au-delà des épistémologies sédentaires : Les changements urbains au miroir de l’exil », Parcours anthropologiques, no 10 (octobre), p. 24-45.

Le Courant Stefan, 2014. « “Être le dernier jeune” : Les temporalités contrariées des migrants irréguliers », Terrain, no 63 (septembre), p. 38-53.

Pellerin Hélène, 2011. « De la migration à la mobilité : changement de paradigme dans la gestion migratoire. Le cas du Canada », Revue européenne des migrations internationales 27, n° 2, p. 57–75.

Makaremi Chowra, 2008. « Participer en observant : Étudier et assister les étrangers aux frontières », in Fassin Didier, Bensa Alban, Politiques de l’enquête, Paris, La Découverte, p. 165-183.

Sayad Abdelmalek, Bolzman Claudio, Fibbi Rosita, et Guillon Michelle, 2001. « La vacance comme pathologie de la condition d’immigré. Le cas de la retraite et de la préretraite », Revue européenne des migrations internationales 17 (1), p. 11-36.

Temime Émile, 2000. « Abdelmalek Sayad. La Double Absence. Des illusions de l’émigré aux souffrances de l’immigré », La pensée de midi 2 (2), p. 159-61.

Vidal Laurent, 2005. Mazagão, la ville qui traversa l’Atlantique : du Maroc à l’Amazonie, 1769-1783, Paris, Aubier.

Tarrius Alain, 1992. « Circulation des élites professionnelles et intégration européenne », Revue Européenne de Migrations Internationales 8, n° 2, p. 27-56.

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