Migration and Movement in European History

Migration and Movement in European History

Pascale Falek / Mark Jones / Jannis Panagiotidis / Heinz-Gerhard Haupt / Philipp Ther, European University Institute, Florence
From - Until
28.04.2009 - 30.04.2009
Conf. Website
Pascale Falek / Mark Jones / Jannis Panagiotidis, European University Institute, Florence;

The European University Institute conference “Migration and Movement in European History” was the third in a series of Graduate Conferences in European History (GRACEH), sponsored by the European University Institute, Florence (EUI), The Berlin School for Comparative European History (Berliner Kolleg für Vergleichende Geschichte Europas, BKVGE), and the Central European University, Budapest (CEU). It brought together 16 professors, 8 PhD holders and 24 postgraduate students from academic institutions in 12 countries. The conference aimed to highlight the problems of historical methodology which refuses to include reflection upon mobility in the past. Given this conceptual agenda, papers were not limited to specific periods or geographical areas. Instead, the conference provided a forum for 36 papers dealing with diverse topics, yet sharing a common concern with the many diverse ways mobility has impacted upon historical change. To improve the quality of discussion, papers were pre-circulated and discussions were opened by commentary on each paper from established academics.

The papers were organized in two groups with six panels each. They were framed by three keynote lectures. Fitting the focus of the conference on both migration in a narrower and mobility in a broader sense, the papers covered both aspects for different periods of modern and early modern European history. On the first night, PHILIPP THER (EUI) opened the conference with reflections upon migration of people and of cultural goods and the connections between these two processes. In the first keynote lecture, SEBASTIAN CONRAD (EUI) then developed a global history perspective on Chinese ‘coolie’ migration and its impact on global labour markets and national identities. On the second day, ANTONELLA ROMANO (EUI) dealt with issues of mobility and transfer in a lecture about “The Migration of Science in the Early Modern Period: Methodological Questions, Historiographical Perspectives.” The final keynote lecture was given by LEO LUCASSEN (Leiden). He made a strong argument against the “modernization fallacy,” which in his view overstressed the impact of modernity on migration and mobility in the second half of the 19th century. Based on new conceptualizations of migration in the past he argued that early modern societies included a great deal more mobility than commonly assumed. These challenging concepts and findings triggered a vivid discussion that brought the conference to a close.

Group I started with a panel on “Political migration in the Longue Durée.” ARNAUD BOZZINI (Université Libre de Bruxelles) analyzed how Jewish activists in the Communist Party of Belgium grappled with their Jewish identity and their communist convictions after the Second World War. This was followed by a presentation by CAROLINE MARBURGER (CEU) about German academics in exile at the University of Istanbul during World War II. She proposed to transcend the conception of this group of people as “intellectual exiles” or refugees, and rather conceive of them as highly skilled academic labour migrants. KAJA SHONICK (University of Washington) then dealt with the interaction of the West German state with Croatian Ustasha émigrés after World War II, arguing that their relationship changed under the influence of memories of the past and political concerns of the present.

In the following panel on “Institutions of Migration in a Historical Perspective” GEORGIA MAVRODI (EUI) introduced a social science perspective to this predominantly historical conference, assessing the impact of European norms on current Greek immigration policy. Arguing against a simplistic view of the construction of “Fortress Europe”, she pointed to liberalization which had occurred because of the impact of European law. JANNIS PANAGIOTIDIS (EUI) argued that the legal construction of Greek “co-ethnic” migration from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s was crucially shaped by the Greek-Turkish population exchange of 1923. NIL BIROL (CEU) concluded the panel with a paper on Greek and Tatar intellectuals from the margins of the Russian and Ottoman Empires and their rivalries with traditional Ottoman imperial elites in the 19th century.

The topic of Panel 3 was “Migration at the Periphery.” DARYL LEEWORTHY (Swansea) presented a paper on the “Industrial Frontiers” of the Cape Breton and the South Wales coalfields, both of which received large numbers of labour migrants in the 19th century. He argued that historiography should avoid the “metropolitan fallacy” and take into account how history is made at the “periphery.” MARIAN ZALOAGA (Cluj Napoca) dealt with normative discourses on Gypsy peripateticism in 19th century Transylvania, analyzing how gypsy marginality was constructed among Transylvanian Saxons. ILSEN ABOUT (EUI/Lille) examined the control of transmigrating Gypsy caravans by the border police in early 20th century France, Switzerland, Italy, and Austria, highlighting a process of increasing criminalization and racialization of the way this group was confronted by political authority.

Panel 4 took a comparative approach to migration to Germany in the twentieth century. Unfortunately SARAH HACKETT (Sunderland) could not present her paper on the legacy of post-war immigration policies in Britain and Germany. DAVID MOTADEL (Cambridge) challenged the view that Muslim presence in Europe was essentially a post-World War II phenomenon by examining the creation of Muslim communities in Western Europe, 1914-1939. BARIS ÜLKER (CEU) then dealt with Muslim post-War migrants to Western Europe, namely Turkish immigrants in Berlin. He analyzed the historical conditions for the emergence of “ethnic entrepreneurship” in this city, questioning this very category.

Panel 5, chaired by PHILIPP THER (EUI), retained the geographical focus on Germany. Its topic was “Boundaries and Identity in Germany 1940-1960.” MATEUSZ J. HARTWICH (BKVGE) examined how travel to Silesia changed the perceptions recent German expellees from this region had of their lost Heimat. Retaining the focus on Silesia, HUGO SERVICE (Cambridge) compared processes of identity, ethnic screening and forced migration of Germans in two districts of Lower and Upper Silesia after the Second World War. TOM WILLIAMS (Oxford) focused on Germany’s western borderland, presenting a paper on propaganda, memory and migration histories in the Franco-German borderlands, 1940-49. He compared the cultural policies of Nazi Germany in “Gau Oberrhein” (which included occupied Alsace) and of France in occupied Baden after the War, demonstrating how the history and memory of past migration and exchange was used to reinforce national claims to borderland territories.

The last panel of Group I dealt with “Politics and Migration in the Interwar Period.” It was chaired by HEINZ-GERHARD HAUPT (EUI). PASCALE FALEK (EUI) gave a paper on female Jewish migrants at Belgian universities during the interwar period, asking to what extent their act of migration could be considered an act of liberation. GERBEN ZAAGSMA (UCL) analyzed the way the political behavior of East European Jewish communists in interwar Western Europe was shaped by migration related factors and their East European roots. Finally, MARTINE MARCHAL (Warwick) presented a case of transnational resistance among Italian immigrants in the borderlands of France, Belgium, and Luxemburg, focusing on the transfers of ideology and people that shaped antifascist policies in the region.

The first panel of Group II, “Über-setzen: The Movement of Cultural and Material Goods,” focused upon the diffusion of cultural goods in new contexts. RAMON PILS (Vienna) opened the panel with a paper discussing the career of Leon Kellner, a Jewish journalist, scholar, educator and Zionist. Pils discussed one of Kellner’s cultural projects; the transformation of the British concept of ‘Toynbee Hall’ to an Austrian Jewish context in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna. The second paper was by KLAUS DITTRICH (Portsmouth) and dealt with world exhibitions and the transfer of universal primary education to France and Japan in the 1870s. The third paper by LUMINITA GATEJEL (BKVGE), discussed the cultural marketing of western European cars in socialist countries. In the discussion which followed, Laszlo Kontler (CEU) drew attention to how such cultural themes also provided a hinge through which historians could examine subjects considered the preserve of traditional political history.

The second panel focused upon “Boundaries and Migration in Early Modern Europe.” It began with ROSA SALZBERG (EUI) discussing the mobility of pedlars in 16th century Northern Italian States. The second and third papers, by JORUN POETTERING (Hamburg) and RICARDA MATHEUS (Mainz) discussed religious conversion. Both papers drew attention to the relationship of mobility to conversion. Poettering and Matheus respectively discussed cases of conversion in Catholic Lisbon and early modern Rome. Following a discussion led by BARTOLOMÉ YUN CASALILLA (EUI), Antonella Romano (EUI) and Elena Brambilla (Milan) queried whether the papers had given significant attention to the phenomenon of Jewish conversion to Christianity.

The third panel brought together three papers dealing with diverse historical periods, which nonetheless shared a common interest in the movement of knowledge. The session began with JAN KUNNAS (EUI) whose paper used pre-industrial examples of knowledge about forestry and peatland cultivation to argue against conventional views of technology and knowledge transfer as linear processes moving from centre to periphery. The second paper by ILANA WARTENBERG (UCL), examined the transmission of Arabic science to Hebrew circles in Sicily at the end of the 14th century, focusing upon the works of the poet, mathematician and astrologer Isaac ben Solomon Ibn al-Ahdab (Castile, ca. 1350- Sicily, ca. 1430), who adapted and invented existing astronomical tools. In the final paper, MARTINA KROCOVA (BKVGE) discussed geographical boundaries in German and British discourses from 1750-1850. Following the commentary on the papers, the criticism that these papers did not share enough basis for fruitful comparison resulted in a longer discussion about how historians of different geographical spaces and periods nonetheless must grapple with the idea of the boundary and historical cases of boundary crossing.

The fourth panel discussed migratory frameworks in multi-ethnic states. ZSÓFIA LÓRÁND (CEU) gave a paper on “new feminism” in 1970s and 1980s Yugoslavia, which she interpreted as a travelling concept and as counterdiscourse. UKU LEMBER (CEU) discussed methodological problems facing scholars studying “Russian”-“Estonian” inter-ethnic relations in Soviet Estonia. LARS FREDRIK STÖCKER (EUI) examined transnational entanglements across the Baltic Sea during the Cold War era, focusing on the example of cross-Baltic networks of Polish political exiles in Sweden.

The fifth panel turned to the subject of the movement of concepts and ideas within the writing of history. It brought together three scholars whose work deals with the Annales school. SILVIU HARITON (CEU) began by placing the reception of the Annales in Romania, since the 1960s, within the perspective of comparative historiography, drawing attention to how clusters of historians in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary similarly used the Annales as a historiographical model. The second paper by JOSEPH TENDLER (St. Andrews) on resistance to the Annales-school between 1900 and the 1960s, situated Annaliste historians and historiography within Western European and Northern American academic discourse to show how its methodological and epistemological structures failed to rouse any more than passing interest among certain European scholars before the 1960s. Tendler concluded with observations on how the genealogies from the work of Marc Bloch and Emile Durkheim may provide a platform for debates in contemporary historical theory. ANDRÉS ANTONLÍN (Freiburg) turned the geographical focus to Spain and the reception of the Annales under Franco (1950-1975).

The final session, chaired by MICHAEL GOEBEL (EUI), focused on “Crossing the Boundaries of ‘National’ Memory.” It began with SONA MIKULOVÁ (BKVGE), who discussed the search for common remembrance in Italy and Germany in the memory of Cephalonia. The second paper was by CÉLIA KEREN (EHESS, Paris), who introduced a transnational and European perspective on the evacuation of Spanish children during the Spanish Civil War. The final paper by VEYSEL ÖZTÜRK (Bahcesehir University, Istanbul) examined the birth of the Young Turk ideas in Paris. The discussion drew attention to the importance of challenges to the myth of Italiani brava gente as providing a context for the emergence of an image of Italian soldiers as victims. Several participants pointed to the possibility for comparison between Spanish children with other children evacuees in wartime.

Altogether, over the three days of the conference participants succeeded in creating a common intellectual space for dialogue between scholars studying more “classical” migration history and those dealing with transfer and mobility more generally. In doing so the conference provided young scholars from across the world with a unique opportunity for developing transnational and reflective methodology.

Conference Overview:

Welcome and Opening Speech
Philipp Ther (EUI)

Keynote lectures
Sebastian Conrad (EUI), Migration in Global History: Chinese ‘Coolies’, Labor Markets, and the Politics of Difference
Antonella Romano (EUI), The Migration of Science in the Early Modern Period: Methodological Questions, Historiographical Perspectives
Leo Lucassen (Leiden), Rejecting the Modernization Fallacy: Migration and Mobility in Europe’s History

Panel 1: Political migration in the longue durée
Chair: Anthony Molho (EUI)

Arnaud Bozzini (ULB – Brussels), (Re-)construction identitaire, engagement politique et migration. Les militants juifs face au Parti communiste de Belgique (1944-1956) / Identity (re)construction and political engagement : Jewish activists and the Communist Party of Belgium(1944-1956) (in French)
Caroline Marburger (CEU), Shifting Perspectives on Migratory Subjects: German-speaking subjects at Istanbul Üniversitesi during World War II as refuges/intellectuals in exile / academic migrants
Kaja Shonick (Seattle), Negotiating between the Past and the Future: Croatian Émigrés in the Federal Republic of Germany

Panel 2: Institutions of migration in a historical perspective
Chair: Rainer Bauböck (EUI)

Georgia Mavrodi (EUI), Fortress Europe Revisited
Jannis Panagiotidis (EUI), Bringing Lausanne Back In: The Legal Construction of Soviet Greek “Repatriation” in the Early 1990s
Nil Birol (CEU), From the Margins of Ottoman and Russian Empires: Rivalry in the Way of Practising Knowledge. Between Migrant Ideas and Institutional Frameworks

Panel 3: Migration at the periphery
Chair: Martina Steer (University of Vienna/EUI)

Daryl Leeworthy (Swansea), Confronting the Metropolitan Fallacy: The Cape Breton and South Wales Coalfields as Industrial Frontier
Marian Zaloaga (Cluj Napoca), Incriminating “Müßiggänger Zigeuner:” Normative discourses and Gypsy peripateticism in Transylvania, 18th-19th century
Ilsen About (EUI/Lille), An Exclusion Process of Migrants: Control of Gypsies and Border Police in South Alps (France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria), 1907 – 1914

Panel 4: Migration to Germany in the twentieth century in a comparative perspective
Chair: Kiran Patel (EUI)

David Motadel (Cambridge), The Making of Muslim Communities in Western Europe, 1918 – 1939
Sarah Hackett (Sunderland), Shadows of the Suitcase: The Legacy of Post-war Immigration Policies in Britain & Germany
Baris Ulker (CEU), Becoming an Entrepreneur: Immigrants from Turkey in Berlin

Panel 5: Boundaries and Identity in Germany 1940-1960
Chair: Philipp Ther (EUI)

Mateusz J. Hartwich (BKVGE/Wroclaw), A Farewell to Heimat: How Travel to Poland Changed German Expellees' Perception of Silesia
Hugo Service (Cambridge), Forced Migration and Identity in Silesia, 1945-1949
Tom Williams (Oxford), Crossing boundaries, contesting boundaries: propaganda, memory and migration histories in the Franco-German borderlands, 1940-49

Panel 6: Politics and migration in the interwar period
Chair: Heinz-Gerhard Haupt (EUI)

Pascale Falek (EUI), Migration as Liberation: Life trajectories of Female Jewish Migrants at Belgian Universities during the Interwar Years
Gerben Zaagsma (UCL), Migration and the transformation of Jewish political behaviour – East European Jewish communists in Western Europe in the interbellum
Martine Marchal (Warwick), Migrating ideologies: Italian immigration and transnational resistance 1933-1939

Panel 1: Über-setzen: the movement of cultural and material goods
Chair: Constantin Iordachi (CEU)

Ramon Pils (Vienna), Translating Toynbee Hall: Cultural Brokerage in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna
Klaus Dittrich (Portsmouth), World Exhibitions and the Transfer of Universal Primary Education to France and Japan in the 1870s
Luminita Gatejel (BKVGE), How the Trabant, Lada and Dacia were turned into socialist products

Panel 2: Boundaries and Migration in Early Modern Europe
Chair: Bartolomé Yun-Casalilla (EUI)

Rosa Salzberg (EUI), Pedlars of print and small luxuries in and between northern Italian states in the sixteenth century
Jorun Poettering (Hamburg), Merchants, Migration and Conversion in the 17th Century
Ricarda Matheus (Mainz), Migration and Conversion – Crossing Spatial and Confessional Borders in the Early Modern Period

Panel 3: Science and Migration
Chair: Laszlo Kontler (CEU)

Jan Kunnas (EUI), Against the tide – Technology Transfer from the Periphery
Ilana Wartenberg (UCL), The Transmission of Arabic Science to Hebrew Circles in Sicily at the end of the 14th century
Martina Krocova (BKVGE), The ‘natural boundaries’ in contemporary German and British discourse (1750-1850)

Panel 4: The frameworks of Migration in multi-ethnic states
Chair: Nenad Stefanov (BKVGE)

Zsófia Lóránd (CEU), Feminism as a Travelling Concept and as Counterdiscourse in Yugoslavia
Uku Lember (CEU), “Russian”-“Estonian” Inter-ethnic Relations in the Soviet Estonia (1957-1987): Some methodological considerations
Lars Fredrik Stöcker (EUI), Transnational entanglements across the Baltic Sea during the Cold War era: The cross-Baltic networks of Polish political exiles in Sweden

Panel 5: Historiographical Transfer: The reception of the Annales
Chair: Antonella Romano (EUI)

Silviu Hariton (CEU), Comparative historiography as history of transfers: Romanian receptions of Annales
Joseph Tendler (St. Andrews), The response to the Annales-paradigm in the USA, England, France, Germany and Italy between 1900 and the 1960s
Andrés Antolín (Freiburg), The Annales-reception in Spain in the context of the historiographical field under the Franco-regime (1950-1975)

Panel 6: Crossing the boundaries of ‘national’ memory
Chair: Michael Goebel (EUI)

Soňa Mikulová (BKVGE), The memory of Cephalonia in Italy and Germany: on the search for common remembrance
Célia Keren (EHESS), The Evacuation of Spanish Children, 1936-1939: Beyond the National Narrative
Veysel Öztürk (Bogazici University, Istanbul), Paris Dream: The Birth of the Young Turk Ideas in Paris

Editors Information
Published on
Temporal Classification
Regional Classification
Additional Informations
Country Event
Conf. Language(s)