Throughout the years of its existence, Israel has received constant waves of immigrants from all over the world. Thus, most of the Jews in the country have experienced migration either firsthand, or through their parents or grandparents. Many of the Arab citizens of Israel have also experienced displacement and migration in their personal or familial history. Furthermore, in recent decades, many thousands of migrant workers and asylum seekers entered the country, experiencing many of the same hardships. Consequently, people who reside in Israel share a common experience of migration and adaptation to an unfamiliar cultural environment. Nonetheless, little research and even less education has been done on the lives of migrants in Israel. While numerous scholars study immigrants in Israel from different academic perspectives: economical, sociological, psychological, political, etc., rarely do they focus on the direct, personal experiences of migrants.
We believe that addressing these common experiences of migration is crucial not only for academic research, but also for promoting social tolerance and cohesion. We are committed to applying our academic and professional to document and understand the experiences of migrants, and educate students, teachers, professionals, and the public about them. For this purpose, we have created the Center for Research and Education on Migrants Lives (MigLives) at Ben Gurion University: a vibrant hub for academic research and training, a clearance house for academic institutions and staff, and a catalyst for social discourse and cohesion.
The Center regards migration as a wide phenomenon of transition of people and ideas between different geographical and cultural spaces. We promote a scientific exploration – historical and current, of migrants' lives and a holistic understanding of migration as a process involving numerous dimensions of social, economic, political and realities that carry local and global meanings. We consider the interdisciplinary perspective as a path for developing innovative knowledge on migration.
The Center is based on two projects that we have already implemented:
The first is the Project for Research and Education on Immigrants' Lives (MigLives) that we operated between the years 2015 and 2018, funded by a modest grant from BGU Presidents' office. In years of its operation, we curated two exhibits on migration and by migrant artists, held several community conferences and conferred prizes for excellence in research to graduate students (see Past Events).
The second is the project on Developing Modernized Curricula on Immigrants' Lives (DEMO), run from 2017 to 2020, funded by a generous and prestigious grant from the European Union Erasmus + program. BGU was the coordinator of 6 academic institutions in Israel and 5 in the EU that participated in the project. DEMO developed and implemented 14 new courses, which applied experiential learning approaches to connect students to their own and their families' experiences of migration and displacement and fostered a personally significant and empowering learning process with long-term effects. The DEMO project produced a variety of teaching materials, which continue to be in use by our partner institutions (https://www.demo.erasmus-il.org).