SAMP director, Jonathan Crush, awarded
Laurier University Research Professor

June 3, 2018 | By | Reply More

Crush studies international migration and development, and rapid urbanization and food security in the Global South. He is a professor in Laurier’s School of International Policy and Governance and is a Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) Chair in Global Migration and Development at the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA).

“Dr. Crush’s influence and ability to inspire research and establish global networks on migration is a testament to his skillfulness as a researcher and collaborator,” said Robert Gordon, vice-president: research. “Jonathan has not only made an impact in the study of migration and food security in the global south, but he has also informed policy and decision making at the highest levels.”

Throughout his career, Crush has secured $26 million in research funding; has published over 15 books, including the highly influential Power of Development; and edited journal issues, written over 150 book chapters and journal articles, and boasts over 9,500 Google Scholar citations. He has held research chair positions at Queen’s University and the BSIA. He was awarded the Joel Gregory Prize of the Canadian Association of African Studies for his first book on Swaziland and holds an Honorary Professorship at the University of Cape Town.

“Dr. Crush is, without question, one of the leading scholars in the world on questions of migration, especially in relation to Southern Africa,” wrote Gillian Hart, professor of Geography at the University of California Berkeley in her nomination letter. “Indeed, he has played a central role in carving out the field of South-South migration.”

Crush’s current research projects include the Hungry Cities Partnership, the African Food Security Urban Network (AFSUN), the Consuming Urban Poverty project, the Southern African Migration Programme (SAMP) and the Growing Informal Cities Project.

“The Southern African Migration Programme was, and remains, one of the predominant migration research hubs for Southern Africa, and it has been instrumental in bringing together Africa’s major researchers in the migration field,” wrote Howard Duncan, executive head of the Metropolis Project and editor-in-chief of International Migration in his nomination letter. “Crush stands out as among the world’s most important scholars on migration involving Southern Africa, but also on the relationship between migration and development, and more recently, the nexus between migration and food security.”

Crush is also devoted to mentoring and training students to become the next generation of migration and food security scholars. Most recently, Crush secured funding through the Queen Elizabeth Scholars program to provide opportunities to 30 doctoral, post-doctoral and early career scholars to gain international research and practical experience.

“Much of the credit for this award goes to the many graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and colleagues in Canada, Africa and around the world with whom I have had the privilege of collaborating in meaningful and productive research partnerships over the years,” said Crush.

The position of university research professor is awarded every year through a competitive process to a Laurier professor who has achieved a continuous record of scholarly excellence over an extended period of time as exemplified by receiving external grants, publishing in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, having books or monographs published by scholarly presses, presenting invited lectures at scholarly conferences, and/or receiving scholarly honours. The program is administered by the Office of Research Services.


Migration / food security in UN global compact

The first informal interactive multi-stakeholder hearing of the preparatory process for the international conference to adopt a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration – U.N. General Assembly, 26 July 2017.

Panel 2: Drivers of Migration: At the 1:50 mark, watch Jonathan Crush, CIGI Chair in Global Migration and Development, International Migration Research Centre, Balsillie School of International Affairs:

The FAO estimates that 780 million people are currently undernourished and that 108 million are in a state of severe food insecurity. Of these, an unknown number are migrants or dependent on migrant remittances. In the many discussions about the positive development impacts of migration, the nexus between migration and food security remains a peripheral and much-neglected concern. For example, the NY Declaration only mentions food security once. This suggests that it may also be left out of the Global Compact which, I would argue, would be a serious mistake. How then can migration contribute to the achievement of SDG 2 to end hunger and achieve food security and improved nutrition – and how should it be incorporated into the Global Compact? I suggest that it needs to be incorporated in at least 4 ways:

  1. Food insecurity is a major driver of migration particularly in countries in crisis. People do not need to move but they do need to eat and when they cannot eat they will move to where they can. Hunger and food insecurity are a root cause of certain kinds of mass migration. Addressing this driver of migration would reduce involuntary migration and reduce the flow of migrants into irregular migration channels.
  2. It is now generally acknowledged that recipients of cash remittances spend a significant proportion of this income on food purchase. In India, for example, remittance receiving households spend 45-60% of their household budget on food. In SADC, food purchase is the single greatest use of remittances with over 90% of remittance-receiving households using these transfers to buy food. In Latin America, remittance-receiving households spend anywhere between 35% and 75% of household income on food purchase. In all three regions, the data suggests that remittances play a key role in improving food security. Measures to increase remittance flows and reduce remittance transfer costs, will therefore mean more funds for food purchase and less food insecurity.
  3. To focus exclusively on cash remittances is to miss another crucial dimension of the relationship between migration and food security, that is, food remittances. In contrast to cash remitting, data on food remitting is extremely limited. One study in Africa has recently noted that “transfers of food are invisible in the sense that they run within the family and outside market channels.” In Southern Africa, we have found that one-third of migrant-sending households receive remittances in the form of food. A recent study in East Africa found that food remittances represent a mechanism for counteracting food shortages, price shocks and volatility for receiving households and act as a parallel informal system of social security in the absence of formal systems guaranteeing food security for vulnerable households. GC recommendations about enhancing the development impacts of cash remittances also need to take account of food remittances.
  4. There is the question of the food security of migrants themselves in transit and in their countries of destination. Again we need much better data on the food security status of migrants. One hypothesis — known as the “healthy immigrant” effect – argues that migrants tend to be more food secure and healthier (across a whole range of indicators) than those they leave behind, than long-term immigrants, and even than local populations. Is increased food security, perhaps, an undocumented aspect of the triple win of migration?

I have elaborated these ideas further in the latest issue of International Migration in a special issue on the migration and food security nexus. At the global level, there is a clear gap in policy thinking about the positive interactions between migration and food security. The international food security policy agenda pays very little attention to migration and cross-border linkages and flows of remittances and food. It is rather as if nobody moves in the world of international food security and nobody eats in the world of global migration and development. There is an opportunity for food security to be put on the international migration agenda through giving it a place at the Global Compact table.

At the 2:50 mark:

In putting the Global Compact and discussions around it into a multilateral context, the formulation of the SDGs gives us some important signposts.

While there is no migration-specific SDG, migration is buried in the targets of all the goals. With migration being such a contentious issue, what we’ve seen in the past decade or so is the formulation of a language that allows migration to be discussed – which is the language of development – and the contextualizing of migration with regard to development. But it has never been clear what development actually is in that particular context.

The challenge then is not to allow the way in which the SDGs have defined what development is, and what its goals should be, to form the parameters within which we discuss what should be within the Global Compact.

We need to remove ourselves from those constraints and say that migration itself is an important and critical cross-cutting area, which touches on all sustainable development goals. This is an important objective that the Compact should have – it should not be constrained by the framework of the SDGs.

Jonathan Crush heads up the Southern African Migration Programme, the Hungry Cities Partnership and the African Food Security Urban Network (AFSUN)

• Read more: Stakeholders Discuss Migration Compact During First Hearing


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