Migration in Legal and Political Theory: Remaining Challenges

28 October 2011 - 29 October 2011

CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge


Dr Sarah Fine (Corpus Christi/POLIS/Philosophy)
Dr Lea Ypi (LSE)

Conference summary

The conference aims to address some of the legal, political and ethical challenges posed by transnational migration that so far have received limited attention in the theoretical literature on the subject. Legal and political theorists—in particular, those working in the so-called Anglo-American tradition—have been slow to give migration its due attention. Hence, a number of pressing issues, such as the rights of undocumented migrants, responsibility for refugee populations, and “brain drain” remain under-researched from a normative perspective.

The conference aims to fill this gap in the literature and to provide a forum for sustained, interdisciplinary analysis by leading scholars and emerging researchers in the fields of law, social and political theory, and philosophy. The papers address issues which fall into two broad categories:
  1. Entry and Exit;
  2. Statelessness, Citizenship, and Naturalisation.



Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH), the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) and the Centre for Governance and Human Rights at Cambridge and the Department of Government, LSE.

Accommodation for non-paper giving delegates

We are unable to arrange accommodation, however, the following websites may be of help.

Visit Cambridge
Cambridge Rooms

University of Cambridge accommodation webpage

NB. CRASSH is not able to help with the booking of accommodation.


Administrative assistance: Helga Brandt (Conference Programme Manager, CRASSH)


Friday 28 October

10.00 - 10.30


10.30 - 10.45

Welcome and Introduction

10.45 - 12.30

Panel 1: ENTRY and EXIT I

    Chair: Andrew Gamble, Professor of Politics and Head of Department, POLIS, University of Cambridge

    • David Miller, Official Fellow and Professor of Political Theory, Nuffield College, University of Oxford: Is there a human right to immigrate?
    • Phillip Cole, Visiting Professor of Applied Philosophy, University of Wales, Newport: Towards a Right to International Movement

    Commentator: Zofia Stemplowska, Assistant Professor of Political Theory, University of Warwick  

    12.30 - 13.30


    13.30 - 15.15

    Panel 2: ENTRY and EXIT II

      Chair: Matthew Kramer, Professor of Legal and Political Philosophy, University of Cambridge

      • Anna Stilz, Assistant Professor of Politics, Princeton University: Is there an unqualified right to leave?
      • Kieran Oberman, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Asian University for WomenCan brain drain justify immigration restrictions?

      Commentator: Christine Straehle, Assistant Professor, Ethics of Public and International Affairs, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa

      15.15 - 15.45


      15.45 - 17.30

      Panel 3: ENTRY and EXIT III

        Chair:  Jude Browne, Frankopan Director of Gender Studies, University of Cambridge

        • Christopher Heath Wellman, Professor, Department of Philosophy, Washington University in St. Louis: The right to enter and exit
        • Sarah Fine, Research Fellow in Politics, Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge: Immigration and discrimination                 

        Commentator: Richard Child, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Social Justice and Criminal Justice, University of Cambridge

        17.30 - 18.30
        Drinks reception


        Saturday 29 October

        9.15 - 11.00


          Chair: Clare Chambers, University Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Cambridge

          • David Owen, Professor of Social & Political Philosophy and Deputy Director, Centre for Philosophy and Value, University of Southampton: In loco civitatis: on the normative grounds and character of the international refugee regime
          • Chandran Kukathas, Chair in Political Theory, Department of Government, The London School of Economics: Are refugees special?

          Commentator: Oliviero Angeli, Lecturer in Political Theory and History of Ideas, Technische Universität Dresden

          11.00 - 11.15


          11.15 - 13.00


            Chair: Claire Grant, Professor of Jurisprudence, School of Law, University of Leicester 

            • Joseph Carens, Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto: In defense of birthright citizenship
            • Linda Bosniak, Distinguished Professor, School of Law, Rutgers: Amnesty in immigration: forgetting, forgiving, freedom

            Commentator: Helder De Schutter, Assistant Professor of Social and Political Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy, K.U. Leuven 

            13.00 - 14.00


            14.00 - 15.45


              Chair: Andrea Sangiovanni, Lecturer in Philosophy, King’s College London

              • Lea Ypi, Lecturer in Political Theory, Government Department, The London School of Economics: Guestworkers and exploitation
              • Arash Abizadeh, Associate Professor, Political Science, McGill University: The Special Obligations Challenge to More Open Borders: Lessons from Low-Skilled Wage Competition

              Commentator: Meghan Benton, Research Associate, UCL Constitution Unit