The program MECMI, Morts en contexte de migration, Deaths in the Context of Migration, aims to document and examine the material, legal, institutional, associative, familial, moral, and emotional dimensions of death during migration. This presumes to fully integrate death into the phenomenon of migration, both as a reality and as a potentiality of multiple effects. The main issue of the program is twofold, putting two questions rarely associated in scientific literature into conversation, while still drawing upon a multidisciplinary, heterogenous corpus of research. It also endeavours to build a network of researchers, which, at this point in time, does not exist in either Québec or France.
The research is organized around three themes:
- The management of deaths in the migratory context
This theme endeavours to study the mobility of deaths in following the spatial trajectory of bodies (under both physical and symbolic forms), whether they stay in the receiving country or whether they travel back to their country of origin or elsewhere. Throughout the journeys of the deceased, this project examines the roles, motivations, and practices of the actors involved in the material and symbolic treatment of death. To study the management of deaths necessitates the question of the attempts to identify the bodies of “unknown” migrants at borders just as much as it necessities questions about the management of funerary spaces or policies of places of memory. The political and symbolic reach of the cadaver’s mobility constitutes a key dimension of this theme, as well as international funerary legislation, with its multitude of administrative and legal rules.
- Imaginations of death in migration
This theme focuses on accounts about the relationship between migrants and death during their migration – whether it be foreseeing their death in the receiving country (due to a grave illness or old age) or thinking about the eventuality of death throughout the crossing of borders. Reflection on the possibility of death involves lingering on the temporal dimension that emerges in migrants’ projects. . This theme strives to articulate representations of death with migrants’ conceptions of destiny and religious beliefs, in linking them with generational and gendered aspects. Finally, this theme also questions the contours of death that appear when migrant stories report grave illness, examining principally the moral dilemmas and ethical questions that can appear.
- The accompaniment of the bereaved in the migratory context
Here, the focus is directed on the work of accompaniment/care/support undertaken by deceased migrants families and close ones. Services, both public and private, and several institutions and actors (here and elsewhere) come together as to offer a support – material, psychological, social – to dying migrants and their families. It also studies the accompaniment/support/care of the bereaved, not only in terms of experience, but in terms of knowledges and practices that are developed, transmitted, and transformed within networks of proximity and transnational networks, (in the country of origin and elsewhere) to support the bereaved. This theme examines their formal and informal quotidian practices in focusing on the diversity of sense of these practices, the representations of death that they emit, and of the nature and form of the established links between migrants and their families.
Juliette Cleuziou (Lesc), Grégory Delaplace (Université Paris Nanterre–Lesc), Béatrice Halsouet (Uqam), Nicolas Lambert (CNRS–Riate), Josiane Le Gall (CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de l’île de Montréal), Françoise Lestage (Université Paris Diderot–Urmis), Catherine Montgomery (Uqam), Jordi Moreras (Université Rovira i Virgili), Ariadna Solé Arraràs (Universidad de Barcelona)
- UQAM Université du Québec à Montréal
- LESC Laboratoire d'ethnologie et de sociologie comparative