About the PRIO Migration Centre

The PRIO Migration Centre examines how states, groups and individuals engage with, and are affected by migration. The centre is part of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and reflects the institute’s independent, international, and interdisciplinary profile. Our research spans the entire migration chain—from the conditions that spur departures, via migration processes to settlement and integration, sustained transnational ties and possible return or onward migration.

Research organization and funding

Our research is financed on a project basis by a range of scientific and policy-oriented funders, both in Norway and abroad. Most of our work is carried out through projects that last for 3–5 years and involve multiple researchers within and beyond PRIO. These are projects that are developed by researchers and have an academic foundation.

Alongside these larger projects we carry out smaller-scale commissioned research and consultancies. These are opportunities for applying our expertise to specific needs for insights, for instance as part of policy processes.

The PRIO Migration Centre brings together researchers and projects from across the PRIO organization. Responsibility for personnel and budgets lies with the institute’s departments.


Migration was identified as a strategic priority for PRIO in 2005 after having been an intermittent research theme for several decades. Earlier work included Professor Grete Brochmann’s doctoral research in the 1980s on Sri Lankan labour migration to the Middle East. Since 2007 migration has been the focus of a dedicated research team at PRIO, initially with Jørgen Carling, Marta Bivand Erdal and Cindy Horst as the core members. The Migration Research Group was formally established in 2012 and transitioned into the PRIO Migration Centre in 2020.

Thematic orientations

The thematic profile of migration research at PRIO fluctuates with the changing project portfolio, staff composition, and evolving individual interests. The group’s prevailing foci can be roughly summarized under the following broad headings.

Migration processes

This strand of research examines how migration outcomes are shaped by the interplay between individual agency and structures of opportunities and constraint. We are interested in people’s hopes, dreams, and fears of migration, their decision-making processes, and experiences of mobility and immobility. We examine a diversity of mobility forms, including flight from conflicts, circular mobility, return migration, and deportation. Our research on migration processes also addresses the role of social networks, government policy and popular discourse in promoting, facilitating of constraining migration.

Transnational practices

Migration produces not only diverse societies but also stretched-out social networks, relationships, and practices. Such transnational practices include long-distance political engagement, support of armed struggles, charitable donations, remittance transactions, remote parenting, and construction of houses. We are interested in these and other practices from three perspectives: their role in migrants’ lives at the destination, their internal dynamics, and their importance for people in migrants’ communities of origin. A key aspect of transnational practices is how they are connected with broader development processes.

Belonging and diversity

Our research addresses issues of identity, home and belonging from the perspectives of both individuals and societies. Migration typically produces societies with new forms of diversity. We are interested in how this diversity is experienced, perceived and acted upon by individuals, groups and institutions, and how it is connected to social conflict or cohesion. Key concepts in this strand of research include citizenship, civic engagement, collective and individual identities, nationhood, and societal values.

Migration in context

While much of our research fits squarely under the heading of migration, we engage extensively in research that straddles migration and other themes. Our migration-related research is often also about humanitarianism, gender, media, and religion, for instance.

Migration and peace research

Migration research at PRIO relates to the institute’s peace research core in a number of ways. Much contemporary migration results directly from armed conflict and other forms of violence. Moreover, migration affects conflict patterns and dynamics, for instance through diaspora mobilization. Our migration research also relates to peace and conflict in a broader sense, by addressing issues such as the militarization of migration control, humanitarian aspects of migration, and the links between migration, inequalities and social exclusion.

PRIO’s mission is to conduct research on the ‘conditions for peaceful relations between nations, groups and individuals’. Migration is central to the way in which nations, groups and individuals are related to each other.

Alongside doing research that applies specifically to peace and conflict, we seek to be at the forefront of theoretical and methodological developments that advance research on migration and transnationalism more generally.

About the PRIO Migration Centre