Second ENIUGH-Congress: Session “Mobility, Diasporas and Territorial Orders”

Second ENIUGH-Congress: Session “Mobility, Diasporas and Territorial Orders”

European Network in World and Global History (ENIUGH)
From - Until
03.07.2008 - 05.07.2008
Steffi Franke, Geisteswissenschaftliches Zentrum Geschichte und Kultur Ostmitteleuropas (GWZO), Universität Leipzig

In the following you find a report on the session "Mobility, Diasporas and Territorial Orders" of the Second European Congress on World and Global History. The general aim and structure of the congress are described at: <>

Session: "Historiography II"
Report by Steffi Franke, Geisteswissenschaftliches Zentrum Geschichte und Kultur Ostmitteleuropas (GWZO), Universität Leipzig

The mobility of people, goods and ideas as well as the efforts to control these flows by states, institutions and dominant thought systems is one of the decisive characteristics of globalization at least since the beginning of the 19th century. One the one hand, mass migration flows have shaped the increasingly globalized world, technological innovations and the emergence of communication and transport networks did so as well. On the other hand, the formation of historical and current world orders owes much to strategies of controlling, regulating and reinterpreting these flows. The session “Mobility, Diaspora and Territorial Orders” addressed this dialectic regarding three different fields: the linkages between nationalization and transnationalization concerning migrant groups, the problem of mobility and its framing in security discourses and the interrelation between the spread of transport networks and their localization in cities as nodes in these networks.

Migration and diaspora formation are prominent elements of globalization. Yet, the very formation of diasporic identities is related to the more general process of nationalization, and diaspora groups have a record of fostering national(ist) movements and politics “at home”. The panel on “Diasporic orders: Archetypical transnational phenomenon or nationalizing agency?” (chaired by MATHIAS MESENHÖLLER, Leipzig) approached this dialectic from a threefold perspective: ADAM WALASZEK (Kraków) provided an analysis of the national politization among the Polish diaspora in the USA in connection to the cause for Polish independence – and of the reverse process of the Americanization of this group after independence was won in 1918. TOBIAS BRINKMANN (Southampton) then gave a complementary research paper on the genuinely transnational phenomenon of Jewish philanthropic networks in the chaperonage of mass migration from Eastern Europe, linking it to the strive for acceptance as citizens in their respective countries by the actors involved. Finally, ADAM MCKEOWN (New York) delivered an overview over the dialectic in question, last not least focusing on terms and terminological history. The ensuing discussion deepened various aspects of the presentations, following the consciously empirical orientation of the session.

The panel “Securitized Worlds and the Dilemma of Mobility” presented two papers. FRANK CAESTECKER’S (Ghent) paper on subversive refugees from Nazi Germany (1933-1939) investigated whether security interests had influenced the migration regime during the interwar years. The paper analyzed security practices and their relation to human rights. A second set of questions referred to whether during the 1920s and in particular after 1933 “subversive” refugees were granted asylum. The privileged position afforded to political refugees remained a characteristic of the liberal states in Western Europe. For the refugee policy of all countries analyzed in the paper communist refugees were the least wanted refugees. In the second paper BARBARA LÜTHI (Basel) argued that the US-Mexican border casualties are a point from which one can think about such notions of mobility and immobility in relation to national security. These are on the one hand closely related to the rise of “anti-citizenship technologies” and on the other hand (worldwide) mobility must increasingly be conceptualized within a “paradigm of suspicion”, meaning that the primary principle for determining the “license to move” both across borders and in public spaces within borders, has to do with the degree to which certain agents of mobility are (often interchangeably) suspected of representing the threats of crime, undesired immigration and terrorism. The panel clearly showed that processes of “securitization” have a long-standing historical tradition with very various effects on different countries and people.

The last panel of this session on “Transport and Cities: Toward a World Order of Mobility (1850-2000)” focused on the history of exchange between cities on inter- and intracity transport planning and operating since the XIXth century. It considered the organization of this exchange, the institutions and experts involved, as well as its linkages to a wider public. The overall question behind the different papers was whether the different models of transports planning and operation formed a world order of mobility – influential in shaping the cities and cultures alike. HANS BUITER (Eindhoven) compared the construction of railways and railway stations in Belgium and the Netherlands, focusing on Rotterdam and Amsterdam for the period between 1840-2000. He emphasized in particular two points: Firstly, the complex relationship between local mobility on the one hand, national and international flows of people and goods on the other, which can be observed among others in the interaction between city municipalities and national authorities. Secondly, he showed that railway stations were not only junctures of local, national and international traffic, but were reflections of a circulation of international concepts and designs of handling these flows. ÁLVARO FERREIRA DA SILVA (Lisbon) and M. LUÍSA SOUSA (Lisbon) talked about street design and street usage in Lisbon during the decades between 1880-1920. They discussed it as a core element of urban planning, since both were linked with the wide-ranging issues such as circulation, sanitation and embellishment. Street design was perceived as one instrument in resolving the problems caused by urban growth and modernization, thus it was also used as a means to install more control and regulation of streets as public spaces. It was particularly interesting so see how Portuguese public policy towards urban regulation was connected to the international circulation of models and practices during the second half of the 19th century. Harold Mazoyer (Lyon) investigated in his paper the particular renegotiation of public transport systems in Lyon in the decade after 1963. This period was highly characterized by the implementation of urban transport systems mainly based on car-traffic. These car-based transport systems were subsidized and legitimized by central state authorities, thus marginalizing claims and needs of the local community. The latter, contrasting the efforts of the central authorities, developed a distinct expertise on local transport systems, largely emphasizing the metro as a public good. Aiming at gathering independent knowledge and in search for legitimization for the project of reconstructing public transport in different terms, local activists benefited from international contacts and transnational encounters, e.g. on international conferences. The case study demonstrated the interplay between different territorial levels in the negotiation of transport systems, which in effect questioned the national suzerainity on networks of transport and communication and localized the discourse on mobility in the context on transnational encounters.
Finally Frank Schipper (Eindhoven) presented a paper on urban traffic signs and also stressed the intense entanglement between the local and global/ international level. Although municipal authorities introduced signs to solve specific urban traffic problems in localized settings that were experienced in their respective cities their striking similarities can be best explained by the influence of international organizations. The author highlighted the role of the League of Nations as the most important international actor in this regard. Since the early 20th century and throughout the Interbellum the League supported standardization, for example by collecting information on traffic solutions across the globe and disseminating it. The paper helped to revise the still wide-spread reading of the League’s work as a failure and offered a convincing explanation for the emergence of broadly similar patterns in urban traffic control mechanisms

Unfortunately the planned panel on “Zwischen Globalisierung und Europäisierung? Topographie kultureller Ordnungen am ,Rand Europas’” by members Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung Berlin of the could not take place.

The results of these three panels in the sessions provided a rich empirical foundation for the debate on the above mentioned dialectic of globalization processes and the production of world orders, by emphasizing 1) the interplay between nationalization and transnationalization, 2) the interrelation between flows and control and 3) the linkage between the local and the global. These contributions thus contributed important arguments for the discussions on regimes of territoriality, their integration into historical world orders and their constant re-negotiating in the context of changing power relations.

Program of the Session:

Diasporic orders: Archetypical transnational phenomenon or nationalizing agency?, chair: Mathias Mesenhöller, GWZO Leipzig
Tobias Brinkmann: "Western Jews and Eastern Jews: Transnational Jewish Philanthropy Networks and the Jewish Mass Migration from Eastern Europe 1880- 1930"
Adam McKeown: "Grounding Diasporas and Globalizing Borders, 1890-1930."
Adam Walaszek: "'American Poles' or 'Americans of Polish Descent': Nationalized Imagination and the 'National Cause': 1879 - 1930"

Securitized Worlds and the Dilemma of Mobility in the 20th century, chair: Thomas David, University of Lausanne, CH
Frank Caestecker: "Subversive Refugees from Nazi Germany, 1933-1939: Security Interests versus Human Rights in the Regime of Human Mobility Control"
Barbara Lüthi: Mobility and Security at the US-Mexican Border and the Rise of "Anti-Citizenship Technologies"

Transport and Cities: Toward a World Order of Mobility (1850-2000), chairs: Arnaud Passalacqua, Université Paris VII, FR; Sébastien Gardon, Institut d‘Études Politiques de Lyon, FR
Hans Buiter: "Railway stations as junctions of local and international networks. The stations of Rotterdam and Antwerp as focus points for the flows of goods, passengers and ideas, 1840-2000"
Álvaro Ferreira da Silva and M. Luísa Sousa: "The 'script' of a new urban layout: mobility, environment and embellishment. Street’s uses in Lisbon between 1880 and 1920"
Harold Mazoyer: "Le rôle des expériences étrangères dans la fabrication d’une expertise locale des transports collectifs urbains. Le cas des études du métro de Lyon (1963-1973)"
Frank Schipper: "Glocal Signs: Urban Traffic Signs and the League of Nations"

Contact (announcement)

Katja Naumann
GWZO, Universität Leipzig
Luppenstrasse 1b
04177 Leipzig
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