Appel à communications : Panel “Migrant End-of-Life Care and Ritual Practices”, 11th Annual Conference of the IMISCOE Research Network ““International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion in Europe”, Madrid (espagne), 27-29/08/2014 — LIMITE : 21/03/2014

Research panel organised by:

  • Alistair Hunter, University of St Andrews, UK
  • Eva Soom Ammann, University of Bern, Switzerland

Scholars of migration have tended to view the earlier stages of the life-course as important determinants of migration and integration processes. By contrast, dying and death have up to now rarely been a focus of comparative research in migration studies. This research panel therefore aims to bring together researchers working in the field of migrant end-of-life care and ritual practices.

A key issue when facing death is the organisation of adequate care for the dying. As the existing literature on dying in multicultural contexts shows, this may involve specific needs and practices regarding a number of issues. Communication betweenpatients, relatives and health care professionals is a critical factor, especially whenthere is scope to negotiate the locus of care and death (at home, at hospital, in a hospice), or wheninforming patients and relatives about palliative care options and prognoses. End-of-life care for migrants may also involve specific care needs and cultural preferences, as well as religious needs (spiritual guidance and support etc.). Dying in migration contexts may also entail furthermigration flows, such as repatriation (posthumous or otherwise) or visits of family members and ritual experts from the country of origin.

Facing the end of life also involves the practice of rituals in order to make sense of the transition from life to death. The ways in which these ‘rites of passage’ associated with death are performed, however, are manifold. This is especially true in modern societies characterized by transnational migration, where values and ritual practices are very diverse.

One important set of rituals associated with death is the question of commemorating and honouring the dead. For the religious, this also means facilitating the deceased’s journey in the afterlife. Practices such as burial and other formsof memorialisation are potentially more complex in a migration context, and infused with ontological insecurities. The need to reconcile competing sets of cultural, religious and administrative norms relating to death in countries of residence and origin may result in new or renewed interrogations of ‘home’ and ‘belonging’. As such, death can be understood as a critical juncture in the migration and settlement process. Migrants and their descendants may also opt to conduct funerary rituals both in places of origin and reception, indicating a transnational orientation.

The purpose of this research panel is to explore the issues of migrant dying and death outlined above, with a specific focus on dying in old age. However, papers dealing with death at earlier stages of the life course can also be submitted. Wewelcome papers addressing the above issues from a range of methodological perspectives and disciplines. Analytical perspectives including issues of gender and generations are also encouraged.

To submit a paper for this research panel, please send a Word document with the paper title and an abstract of no more than 250 words, together with your name and institutional affiliation, to Alistair Hunter ( and Eva Soom Ammann ( no later than 21 March 2014.

Schedule: Accepted participants will be notified bymid-May 2014. Full papers will have to be uploaded to the conference online system no later than 1 August 2014. To facilitate discussion, the papers will be circulated in advance to the session’s participants. Furthermore, each paper will be assigned a discussant.

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