Skip to content

Toggle service links

Placing Ourselves - investigating categories of belonging and integration

Placing Ourselves
Placing Ourselves is a project which aims to challenge existing binaries in migration, multiculturalism and integration.
January 2012 - September 2016

Despite decades of policy-research dialogue integration within the context of migration-mobility remains a contested concept. This project aims to challenge existing binaries in migration, multiculturalism and integration research by conducting research into the dialogical relations between place and practices of belonging and integration.

Placing Ourselves is a MMIIDA Network Collaborative European Project 2012-2013 and is a comparative international pilot which aims to understand how key categories relating to two concepts - ‘belonging’ and ‘integration’ - are conceptualised, reified and enacted by practitioners and citizens in six European cities - Dublin, Dusseldorf, Glasgow, Gothenburg, London and Manchester

This study uses an interview-based comparative qualitative approach which uses visual and verbal stimulus materials. In an insightful challenge to current integration frames, fieldwork involves both migrants and non-migrants discussing their integration and belonging. It samples people from across a 10-point migration-mobility continuum (Mahendran 2013) from the generationally non-mobile to serial migrants anticipating their next move. The project aims to contribute to an overall understanding of the scope of belonging and integration within differing European contexts to inform research-policy dialogue.



Mahendran, K (2015) ‘Narratives of European Citizenship: the dialogical citizen in the European Public Sphere’. In Umut Korkut, Kesi Mahendran, Gregg Bucken-Knapp & Robert Henry Cox (edits) Discursive Governance in Politics, Policy and the Public Sphere. New York, Palgrave Macmillan.

Mahendran, K., Andreouli, E., Jackson, I., Magnusson, N., Kapoor, A. & Howarth, C. (2014) Who are the new Euro-believers? Open Democracy 22 May 2014.



Past Events

Migration, the EU referendum and ‘Brexit’—public opinion, prospects and implications

Kesi Mahendran is an invited speaker at Edinburgh's Europa Institute, on the 11th February, 2016, 6:15pm - 8:00pm, Lecture Theatre 183, School of Law, Old College South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH8 9YL


CCIG/Open University in Scotland – Knowledge Exchange Forum on a UK referendum on Europe

Convened by Kesi Mahendran (The Open University), director of the CCIG Enactments Programme. Thursday, 4 June 2015, 12:00 - 15:00, UNISON, Douglas House, 60, Belford Road, Edinburgh, EH4 3UQ.

Presentations by Ima Jackson, (School of Health and Life Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University/GRAMNET), Christina Boswell (Edinburgh University), Alison Cairns (SCVO), Henri Krishna (CPAG in Scotland) and Maggie Lennon (The Bridges Programme).


CCIG Lecture Series: Kesi Mahendran on 'A UK referendum on Europe: could the public decide?'

Wednesday, 20 May 2015, 18:00 - 20:00, The Open University in London, 1-11 Hawley Crescent, Camden Town, London, NW1 8NP


Talking about their generation: Investigating what the idea of 'migrant generations' means for citizenship

Kesi Mahendran and Paul Sullivan (The Open University). Wed 29 October 2014, 14-16: Talking about their Generation - Location: D2, Richmond Building University of Bradford, Great Horton Road BD7 1DP.

Abstract: Terms such as ‘second-generation’ and ‘third-generation migrant’ are routinely used in some European quarters and rejected in others - but how does the notion of ‘generation’ influence processes of belonging and citizenship? In this paper, we report on a large cross-European study on citizenship, integration and belonging. Participants, both migrants and non-migrants were asked what the terms ‘second/‘third  generation migrant’ mean to them? Our interest was in the assumptions that underlie how citizenship and belonging  can be commonly understood to change or stay the same from one generation to another. We found an interesting set of assumptions and reflections.  For many, the terms were nonsensical distinctions as the ‘second/third-generation’ were full citizens , but we also uncovered an an interesting sense in which ‘immigrants’ were seen to developmentally grow into citizenship across generations. .  They ‘grow’ mentally and morally but along the way are troubled by the quality of ‘immigrant’ that stalks their identity.   We critique and dialogue with these assumptions and conclude by examining the implications of the notion of ‘migrant generations’ for participation in the public sphere


Read more on the background to this project

Gillespie, A., Howarth, C., & Cornish, F. (2012) Four problems for researchers using social categories. Culture and psychology, 18 (3). pp. 391-402. ISSN 1461-7056

Howarth, C., Wagner W., Magnusson N., and Sammut, G. (2013) "‘It’s only other people who make me feel black’: acculturation, identity and agency in a multicultural community." Political Psychology.

Mahendran, K (2013) ‘A two-way process of accommodation’ public perceptions of integration along the migration-mobility continuum. In Umut Korkut, Gregg Bucken-Knapp, Aidan McGarry, Jonas Hinnfors & Helen Drake (edits) The Discourses & Politics of Migration in Europe. Europe in Transition Series, New York, Palgrave Macmillan.

Scuzzarello, S (2012). "Integration of migrants in Western Europe: bridging social psychology and political science". Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 22(1).



This study is led by Kesi Mahendran, it involves Caroline Howarth (London School of Economics), Ima Jackson (Glasgow Caledonian University), Catarina Nyberg (Manchester-Stockholm University), Nicola Magnusson (Open University), Munirah Olton (Salongo Arts, London), Sarah Scuzzarello (City University, London). With Research Associate support from Helen Arfvidsson (Open University), Rebecca Rotter (Edinburgh University) and Thomas Winman (University-West, Trollhättan).

Learn more about the research programme: Enactments