Future Migration as Present Fact (FUMI)

Future Migration as Present Fact (FUMI)
Led by Jørgen Carling
Dec 2018 - Dec 2023

VACANCY OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS: Senior Research Fellow (Postdoc), ethnographic research on migration in West Africa. See vacancy announcement. Deadline: 12 September 2019.

Project summary

The springboard for this project is a striking statistic: half of all young adults in West Africa wish to leave their own country and settle elsewhere. Yet, the vast majority never depart. This discrepancy raises a fundamental question: if migration is desired, but never materializes, what are the consequences? The project breaks with traditional approaches by shifting the object of study from observed migration in the present to imagined migration in the future. Although such future migration might never occur, it materializes in thoughts, feelings, communication, and behaviour at present. Young people's priorities are informed by the futures they imagine, and their lives can thus be formed by migration that is imagined but never achieved. Framing the issue in this way renews research on the precursors of migration and opens up a new chapter about the links between migration and development.

The project is guided by the following research question: How does migration that has not yet taken place shape the lives of individuals and the development of societies?

This question is addressed through a research design that weaves together three streams: theory development, ethnographic fieldwork, and sample surveys. In this way, the project aims for deep mixed-methods integration. The project's empirical focus is West Africa, where migration desires are particularly widespread, and internal socio-economic variation can be exploited for theoretical purposes. By investing in theoretical and methodological development, attuned to a poorly understood aspect of global migration challenges, the project aims for a sustained impact on migration research. The project is set within interdisciplinary migration studies, anchored in human geography and supported by related disciplines including anthropology, economics, and sociology.


FUMI is a European research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant project and has received funding under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, grant agreement n° 819227.) 

Project Preview

Project team

The project team will consist of the Principal Investigator (Jørgen Carling) and two Senior Research Fellows (Postdocs), in addition to research assistants. The three senior members will work closely together, using their complementary methodological and theoretical expertise to address a common set of questions. 

ERC projects are carried out by teams based at a single institution. This is why there are no institutional partnerships with researchers elsewhere. The survey data collection will be subcontracted to local entities.

Senior Research Fellow (Postdoc) 1: Ethnography expert

This position is currently open for applications. See vacancy announcement.

Senior Research Fellow (Postdoc) 2: Survey expert

This position will be announced in 2020. The following information is tentative and non-binding, but is shared to facilitate the recruitment process.

  • Expected starting date: January 2021 
  • Expected duration of contract: 30 months (full time) 
  • Expected responsibilities: Managing survey data collection in three West African countries, including commissioning, training and monitoring; contribution to development of survey instruments; analysis of survey data; co-authoring journal articles; supervision of research assistants; other responsibilities within the project team.
  • Expected qualifications:a PhD in a relevant field; extensive experience with survey research in developing countries, preferably in Africa; competence in survey data analysis, preferably in Stata; experience with management and supervision; familiarity with social-science research fields of relevance to the project.

Are you interested in the Senior Research Fellow (Postdoc) 2 position?
You can request to be alerted when the position is announced, whether it is because you are a potential candidate, or because you know others who might be. 

Research assistants

The project team will include research assistants in Oslo and in West Africa. They will work for limited periods on specific tasks, and will be recruited at a later stage.


Research Groups


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