Crises as Opportunities: towards a Level Telling Field on Migration and a New Narrative of Successful Integration

01 March 2021 → 28 February 2025
European funding: framework programme
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Narratology
  • Social sciences
    • Ethnicity and migration studies
    • Social problems
migration Narratology qualitative research crisis management integration multi-perspectivity
Other information
Project description

The humanitarian tragedy of 2015-16 fuelled anti-European sentiment, allowing populists to successfully reframe the refugee
crisis as a crisis of Europe itself. OPPORTUNITIES shows how we can move beyond this current impasse by creating a
forward-looking and productive debate grounded in new principles for a fair dialogue on immigration and successful
integration. These new principles form what we call a level telling field: Adopting the economic metaphor of the “level playing
field” (i.e. “fair play” in the single market), we propose, apply, evaluate, and advocate “fair storytelling” in the migration
debate. Based on the principle of multi-perspectivity, an ethics of listening, and a politics of recognition, this new debate
strategically unites African countries of origin and transit with European countries of arrival and destination. Our collaboration
establishes level telling fields on local levels, initiating encounters and conversations among migrants, citizens, and
stakeholders. These “cross-talk” experiments, creating and re-enacting experiential narratives of migration and integration in
local communities, build on, and are supported by, novel theoretical concepts as well as qualitative and quantitative research
on national and transnational migration discourses in media. We seek in this way to demonstrate, in both theory and
practice, how a reactive mode of crisis management can be transformed into a shared new narrative of integration, using the
potential of stories to foster cross-cultural understanding. OPPORTUNITIES uses an innovative dissemination strategy
which includes policy recommendations promoting level telling field rules and a touring stage production by a leading
European theatre company to re-open a fair dialogue on migration. In the short term, this will allow for a new consensus to
emerge in local conversations; in the long run, it will have a significant and lasting impact on how we envision opinionmaking
in the European public sphere.

Role of Ghent University
Ghent University will lead the work package that focuses on the narratological (qualitative) analysis of migration discourse in print and online media in Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Ghana, and Senegal.