The current geopolitical changes in EU membership and Europe’s response to the so-called ‘migration crisis’ provide an important research site for re-considering questions of European identity in general and East European identities in particular. In Britain, post-accession migration from Eastern, Central and Southeastern Europe became a focal issue of public discourses in the Brexit campaigns with EU nationals referred to as political ‘bargaining chips’ in subsequent Brexit negotiations. In Germany, meanwhile, attention shifted from debates on migrants from Romania and Bulgaria claiming welfare to the consequences of suspending the Dublin treaty in September 2015. Across Europe, there has also been a growth of far-right nationalism that denigrates migrants through a discourse of exclusion and othering, such as Front National in France, Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands, UKIP in Britain and the AfD in Germany. These political shifts signal an ‘ideological faultline’ between nationalists and global neoliberals where free and flexible mobility is contested and migrants are scapegoats for a broader politics of austerity and global uneven development (Fekete, 2016).
East European migrants from post-2004 EU accession states have been very much caught in the middle of these debates and changes. On the one hand, they have seen rising nationalism and anti-migration sentiment across many parts of Eastern Europe itself. On the other hand, their own transnational mobility within the EU has been increasingly contested and nationalist claims have been staked, especially in Britain, against their rights to live and work freely in any European member state. The fault-lines that are emerging here are not radically new, but they are being revised and modified in light of present political agendas (cf. Botterill 2011, Burrell 2006, 2016, Fox, Morasanu and Szilassy, 2012).
The workshop proposed here seeks to bring together international postdoctoral researchers to enable the development of more comparative approaches and discuss initial insights from emerging research in this area with a view to developing collaborative publications and funding proposals on the consequences of these geopolitical changes for European and East European identities. One outcome of the workshop will be a proposal for a joint special issue publication in an internationally recognized journal such as European Urban and Regional Studies, Environment and Planning A, Europe-Asia Studies or Migration Studies. A second aim is the establishment of a collaborative network for future funding applications to ORA, the VW Foundation and other funding bodies’ schemes for comparative international research.
A key focus of the workshop and its outcomes will be the perspectives of migrants themselves, paying attention to new dynamics of mobility, belonging and citizenship. Through comparative analysis, we aim to, first, examine representations and ideological constructions of migration from Eastern Europe and, second, the impacts of current geopolitical changes on ‘mobile’ East Europeans’ identities and practices.
Source and further information: EEGA, Link (29 May 2018)