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Migration and Refugees Today: Giving History Its Place in Debates and Research

The CEU Campus
Monday, November 14, 2016, 9:30 am – 6:30 pm

The Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI), Eotvos Lorand University (ELTE), the University of Amsterdam and Central European University are pleased to invite you to the international conference

Migration and Refugees Today:

Giving History Its Place In Debates And Research

The striking rise in the arrivals of refugees and migrants in 2015 shed light on many shortcomings in offering a shared vision of the right of asylum in Europe. If Europe has a longstanding and rich history of migration that has contributed to shape the continent, the memory of this history is hardly ever mentioned in the debates concerning asylum and migration today.

We can observe at least three ways in which history tend to "disappear" in the actual debates concerning refugees in Europe:

  1. the past is either absent because it is unknown (so it looks as if we have never dealt with refugees before...);
  2. actual developments are put in a “quasi-historical” perspective, by claiming that certain countries have always known those and those policies (for example “tolerance” in the Netherlands since Spinoza, or “asylum” in France since the French Revolution, etc.), resulting in a rather static and a-historical picture as well;
  3. migrants are urged to leave history home.

The conference will look into ways to “do justice” to history in political and scientific debates, from a cross-national comparative perspective with contributions on the situation of Britain, France, Greece, and Hungary.


9:30 a.m. - 10:15 a.m. /  Welcome and Introduction
Prof. Michael Ignatieff, President and Rector of Central European University
Dr. hab. Christophe Bertossi, IFRI, Paris
Prof. Jan Willem Duyvendak, University of Amsterdam 

10:15 a.m. - 1 p.m.  /  Migration History and the Politics of Memory
CHAIR: Prof. Maria Kovacs, Central European University 

“All About Tolerance? Remembering the Migration Past in Amsterdam and the Netherlands”
Prof. Jan Willem Duyvendak, University of Amsterdam / 

“Can the Past Be Colour-Blind? National Identity, Immigration, and Racism in the French Public Debates”
Dr. hab. Christophe Bertossi, IFRI, Paris / 

“Dreaming Homogeneous. Power Switches of History in Public Discourse in Hungary”
Prof. Tibor Dessewffy and Zsofia Nagy, ELTE University /

“The Importance of the History of Migration in Britain”
Dr. Malachi McIntosh, Runnymede Trust, London

2 p.m. - 4 p.m. / Migration in Europe: Whose Memory?
CHAIR: Prof. Andrea Peto, Central European University, Budapest

“Refugee Memory in Greece”
Prof. Georgios Kritikos, Harokopio University, Athens

“Uncomfortable Pasts: the Construction Blackness in the Dutch Tradition of Santa Claus”
Yannick Coeders, MSc, University of Amsterdam

“Genocide and European Societies”
Prof. Eva Kovacs, Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

4 p.m. - 5 p.m. / Reception

5 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. / Keynote lecture
Migration andthe New Politics of Nativism: Europe-US Compared
Prof. Jan Willem Duyvendak, University of Amsterdam

CHAIR AND RESPONDENT: Prof. Tibor Dessewffy, ELTE University

This conference is part of the “Migration and Memory in Europe” collaborative project of the IFRI, the University of Warwick, the University of Amsterdam, the French network of institutes for advanced studies (RFIEA), and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, with the support of the “Europe for Citizens” Programme of the European Union. 

Project scientific committee

Christophe Bertossi (director of the Center for Migrations and Citizenship, IFRI, Paris) – Olivier Bouin (director of the French network of institutes for advanced study) – Jan Willem Duyvendak (distinguished research professor of sociology, University of Amsterdam) – Danièle Joly (emeritus professor, University of Warwick, and research fellow at FMSH, Paris) – Hugo de Seabra (Programa de Desenvolvimento de Humano – Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon) – Matthieu Tardis (senior research fellow, Center for Migrations and Citizenship, IFRI, Paris) – Khursheed Wadia (principal research fellow, University of Warwick). 

RSVP to: by November 11, 2016 .