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Day 250, Year of #Mygration: 'The endless unfinished conversation of identity'

We began this Year of Mygration hearing the voice of the late Professor Stuart Hall talking about ‘the endless unfinished conversation of identity’. 250 contributions later, the need for the conversation continues but it will spin out through the diverse networks which we have glimpsed through this year.

On the day when we are rounding off this phase of the conversation, for example, a glance at the media shows that in Europe alone, there are mixed messages in Germany and political crises in Belgium and the UK reported in articles in the Independent, the Guardian and the Financial Times.

These 250 blogs, vlogs, images, films, archive, research, and educational materials have ranged far more widely than simple the UK or Europe. Our collaborators in this endeavour have been the International Development and Inclusive Innovation Strategic Research Area, which has helped ensure wider global perspectives. Whichever setting and whichever era is our concern, however, our starting-point on Day 1 of our Year of Mygration holds true, as Jessica Evans observed about the life and work of the late Professor Stuart Hall at the OU and elsewhere:

'Multicultural ethos, as he argued time and time again, imagines immigrants remaining true to themselves and to the traditions that they wish to retain at the same time as making adaptations to another culture and country; not one or the other…'

Despite the negativity surrounding the publication of the UK White Paper today, there have been many positive impressions of migration and migrants to celebrate through our Year of Mygration. The idea of using 'My' rather than 'Mi' was to emphasise that all of us, whether we perceive ourselves and our families to be migrants or not, are shaped by the influences of migration and of migrants. Having read these 250 contributions, I very much wish to follow in different settings the work of migrants, migration scholars and other concerned individuals, including Sara de Jong, Giles Mohan, Tendayi Bloom, Fidele Mutwarasibo and others from diverse disciplines, experiences and perspectives, as the conversation continues elsewhere. One very significant context in the UK will be in the consultation period widely trailed as being in the White Paper.

Meanwhile, there are 100 days to go until the date designated for Brexit. On a personal note, this is the day on which I hand over to Alessandro Sancino the role of director of the Citizenship & Governance Strategic Research Area, so it is a time for both reflection and looking forward. I have served my two year term and a six month extension/transition period, which is my way of saying that I took on the role in the summer of 2016 at exactly the point where, to the surprise of many in academe, the Brexit referendum resulted in the famous 52%-48% vote. Now, at a pivotal moment in the wider world, we will be turning in the new year to offering an A to Z of Brexit. So please watch this space.

And, talking of space, I suspect that the interdisciplinary work on Space and Society here at the OU will take us after that, whatever happens to Brexit, to a series of reflections on Space, culminating for us in the coming together of the 50th anniversary of the first human being to walk on the moon and the 50th anniversary of the Open University's Royal Charter, in the same week at the end of July 2019. It was in the context of that epic achievement of the moon landing in 1969 that the first Chancellor of the Open University talked of this university being ‘open to people, places, methods and ideas’. At a difficult time for openness to migrants and migration, all of us involved in this Year of Mygration would like to thank all who have engaged with us and who will continue to participate in this endless unfinished conversation.

Simon Lee, Professor of Law, The Open University

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