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The Young Researchers’ Conference on Immigration and Europe: Trends, Shifts and Perspectives
March 23, 2021 @ 8:00 am - March 24, 2021 @ 5:00 pm
The history of human evolution is a history of movement, migration and assimilation. Across time, humans have moved across vast distances in search of food, shelter, better opportunities and an improved quality of life. While the nature and pace of movement shifted with the advent of nation-states and with them borders and restrictions on mobility, movement of people itself has never ceased to be a fundamental aspect of human society.
The period following the Second World War in Europe was one of reconstruction and rapprochement. It heralded a new phase of migration to the continent as a number of Western European countries invited ‘guest workers’ from countries in Eastern Europe and Turkey whereas the United Kingdom and France saw the movement of people from erstwhile colonies. Europe saw a slow but decisive shift in character during this time with a new period of bilateral cooperation, representative democracy, free market economics and ethno-religious diversity among states.
The advent of globalisation, with the exponential transformation in information and communication technology and the unprecedented rise of transatlantic relations heralded a new age in human migration. In Europe, this period coincided with the birth of the European Union and the subsequent introduction of the Schengen Area in the early 21st century, marking an age of free movement unlike any in the history of Europe.
The contemporary period has emerged as a key phase of contestation around issues of immigration and assimilation in Europe as reflected during the refugee “crisis” in 2015. The assignment of the word “crisis”, while debatable, is in itself a reflection of how the rapid increase in asylum seekers and refugees coming to Europe, on top of the economically motivated migrants, has pushed the European Union beyond the tipping point. These developments riding on the back of others like the Eurozone crisis, increased terror attacks and security concerns, Brexit present a unique and challenging set of issues as much for the member states as for European Union.
This long history of migration across the globe in general, and Europe in particular, presents an interesting range of themes and questions for researchers. The period following the Second World War pushed countries for the first time to debate and think around questions of settlement and integration, restrictions on immigration flows, policies related to immigrants and the intricacies of balancing cultural diversity. This led to several theories, models, and strategies on how to deal with the emerging ethnic and cultural diversity in Europe – assimilation, integration, multiculturalism, and interculturalism are all responses to the debates from that period.
The contemporary period has invoked similar yet distinct questions. A significant drop in the level of economic development following the Eurozone crisis, increase in instances of terrorist violence and a rise in support of anti-immigration political stances has produced a climate of xenophobia on the continent. This has also led to a re-thinking and re-evaluation of the original models and strategies of integration from all quarters. While those opposed to immigration point to the failure of integration as a sign of cultural “incompatibility” between Europe and the immigrants, those supporting them argue that it reflects a need for putting newer and better policies in place and not abandoning immigrants altogether. This has led to sharp divisions emerging between member states and governments that fall on either side of the spectrum. A Pew Centre survey from 2017 saw 43% of the respondents supporting keeping immigration levels as it is while 38% supporting a reduction in the rates of immigration1. The same survey, conducted across 15 countries, asked respondents whether they felt Islam was compatible with their national culture and values. While there was no clear consensus, less than 50% of the respondents felt there was no contradiction in 14 out of the 15 countries with France (52%) being the exception.
The situation is further complicated by the role played by other actors like the media, the Church and civil society organisations. The media has been responsible for deliberately inciting anti-immigration sentiments by selective and biased coverage of the topic whereas the Church has emerged as an ambivalent player. A number of civil society organisations have taken the lead in organising material and financial support for incoming people and have addressed the gap left by unwilling states.
All these developments merit close academic scrutiny and present an exciting field of research. It is with this in mind that the Centre for European Studies, Jean Monnet Chair on Democracy, Diversity and European Identity in the European Union, is organising ‘The Young Researchers’ Conference 2021 on Immigration and Europe: Trends, Shifts and Perspectives from 23-24 March 2021. We invite contributions for original papers on the following broad themes.
- Immigration and cultural diversity
- Media and the narrative of Immigration
- Emergence of civil society organisations
- Refugee crisis and securitisation
- European policy for asylum/refugees
- Anti-immigration movements and xenophobia
- Refugee quotas and role of the European Union
- Gender and Immigration
- Role of internet, social media and online activism
Papers will be selected on the basis of 200-250 words abstract to be submitted latest by 29th January 2021 to [email protected]. Given the constraints on mobility imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to facilitate as wide-ranging participation as possible, the conference will be held on an entirely online platform. Decisions regarding the inclusion of proposed papers in the conference shall be mailed out by early February.