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Networks of knowledge: structures, flows, and processes in networks of educational migration

  • Project leader: Prof. Dr. Hermann Kreutzmann: Centre for Development Studies - Geographic Sciences, Freie Universitaet Berlin

The research project „Networks of knowledge: structures, flows, and processes in networks of educational migration“ focuses on mobility and migration processes of people from rural high-mountain communities in the Indian Himalayas and the Pakistan Karakorum, with a special interest in student migration.  The four-year-long project (2011-2014) is part of the research network “Crossroads Asia. Conflict, Migration, Development” (, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. It is supervised by Prof. Dr. Hermann Kreutzmann at ZELF (Centre for Development Studies) (, Freie Universität Berlin, and conducted by Dr. Andreas Benz. Mobility and the volume of migration from the Karakorum and Himalaya regions have strongly increased over the last decades, raising questions about the causes and maintaining mechanisms of these migration processes. Controversial debates about the effects of migration for the mobile people, their households, families and communities in the home region and in the diaspora have developed.  Though, these debates are often trapped in container-like conceptions of space and ignore the cross-cutting exchange relations. Migration leads to a spatial dispersion of socially connected people and constitutes a process of trans-localization of social networks. In this research project, therefore, a trans-local perspective informed by social network approaches and the conception of trans-local social space is suggested. Migration is considered from a livelihoods perspective as part of risk-minimizing and diversification strategies of households, and as part and parcel of trans-local livelihood strategies. Migration networks are the key explanatory factor to understand migration processes and their diachronic dynamics. The evolution of these migration networks over multiple generations is reconstructed through oral history accounts and biographical interviews with former and current migrants. A multi-local fieldwork strategy is applied, where the researcher follows selected migratory links from the home region to various target destinations.  Two empirical case studies are conducted in which the migration and mobility links from the Gojal Region in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan and from the Gori Valley in Uttarakhand, India are traced.