The Institute for Research into Superdiversity, IRiS, was officially launched on the 13th June 2013 at the Banqueting Suite in Birmingham City Council House. The event was attended by over 150 people representing a mix of local community groups, agencies and institutions, and academics from as far afield as Nicaragua and the US. The event was opened by Councillor John Cotton, Cabinet Member for Social Cohesion and Equalities who welcomed the location of the UK’s first institute devoted to the study of superdiversity within Birmingham, possibly the UK’s most diverse city.
Director of IRiS, Dr Jenny Phillimore, gave a keynote presentation using new analyses of census data to show how Birmingham demonstrated all the characteristics of superdiversity: population complexity and fragmentation, multi-layered migration characteristics and increased scale, speed and spread of diversity, that make the city the ideal location to study superdiversity. She set out IRiS’s intention to undertake interdisciplinary research to help develop understanding about the opportunities and challenges that superdiversity brings for culture, economy and society both in Birmingham and across the globe. Dr Phillimore outlined existing and planned IRiS activities which included
- Research about integration and social networks, multilingualism, health and help-seeking, health behaviours, Roma, assets and ageing and much more
- A global superdiversity network bringing researchers together from across the world
- A programme for PhD students aimed at helping them to become world leading diversity researchers
- A new MA programme in Migration, Superdiversity and Policy offered on a PT and FT basis
- Events around a wide range of topics
- A Practitioner Research Programme building the capacity of communities and institutions to work with IRiS to co-produce knowledge about superdiversity
- The world’s first interdisciplinary international conference on superdiversity (23-24 June 2014)
Academics leading the Health and Well-being, Language and Superdiversity, Policy, Practice and Foresight, and Religion and Culture IRiS workstreams talked about interests and research questions in their specialist areas before all delegates engaged in a workshop discussing the impact of superdiversity on their lives and organisations and suggesting research priorities.