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Monday, 22 April 2019

Cypriot and Greek diasporas in comparative perspectives

The Diaspora workshop which took place on Sunday 7 April in Nicosia, Cyprus mainly focused on Cypriot diasporas. The workshop was opened by Isik Kuscu Bonnenfant, who introduced the British Academy funded project titled ‘Reuniting Cyprus: The British Cypriot Diaspora as Peace Agents’. The team is interested to conduct the project by looking into the diasporas as peace agents in the reunification of Cyprus. Some of the core questions of this project that Neophytos Loizides analysed concentrated on the diaspora’s political engagement. Important research questions focus on the participation of the diaspora in a prospective referendum, on diaspora’s representation in the elections, and on the properties issue. Other presentations dealt with different aspects of the relation between diaspora and homeland in conflict. Themes covered were Turkish Cypriot diaspora electoral demands post 2004 (Isik Kuscu and Hayriye Kavheci), the transformation of Turkish Cypriot diaspora in Turkey and student peace activism (Yucel Vural and Ibrahim Ozejder), the role of post-1974 diaspora intellectuals redefining new reunification narratives (Nicos Trimikliniotis), and on the myths surrounding size of Cypriot diasporas (Mete Hatay). Foteini Kalantzi gave a presentation entitled ‘The Greek Diaspora at SEESOX: Homeland – Diaspora Nexus in times of deep economic crisis’ in the panel ‘Cypriot Diasporas in Comparative Perspectives’. She presented the project’s three main areas of investigation, namely the new emigration, diasporic philanthropy and diasporic political engagement. She also spoke of the project’s methodological innovations, namely the survey with the respondent-driven sampling, the commission work and the digital map.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Diasporas and peace mediations: Cypriots abroad and the reunification process

Professor Neophytos Loizides of Kent University gave a seminar on this subject on 6 March. David Madden chaired.

Professor Loizides set out the historical context and development of the Cypriot diaspora, and the specifics of the current debate. These included demands for participation in a future referendum, political and electoral rights of diaspora citizens now and in a reunited Cyprus, and the “right of return” including property considerations. The inclusion of diasporas and their views in a peace settlement were seen as essential (interconnectedness, evolution of international human rights law, the diaspora’s own potential role in reunification efforts); but the (perceived and regularly inflated) size of the diasporas often cause resistance in extending voting rights to diasporic Cypriots. More broadly, the Cypriot conflict was largely defined by diasporic experience (Internally displaced persons, settlers, refugees): but the very different histories of these groups provided important challenges for the peace process. Research challenged the views of diasporas as agents of conflict and non-cooperation. There were multiple examples of diaspora activists for peace, and diaspora returnees who supported bicommunalism. The 2004 Annan plan referendum was a wake-up call for the diasporas and demonstrated their strong desire to be involved in Cypriot politics, including naturally in discussion of property compensation(which could amount to at least 12 billion Euros).

Friday, 8 March 2019

Anti-gender movements in Europe and the case of Turkey

On 5 March 2019, Alev Özkazanç presented her work on Anti-gender movements in Europe and the case of Turkey. The session was chaired by Othon Anastasakis.

Özkazanç began by defining anti-gender movements (AGM) and outlining their main features. AGMs started making their appearance in 2010 and gained massive support around 2012-14. Followers of these movements protest against what they call “gender ideology” i.e. what they see as an attempt by the neoliberal order to destroy family values by overpromoting the position of women against that of men. More specifically, AGMs target many aspects of gender equality policies, mostly concentrating on reproductive rights, LGBT rights and same sex marriage and sex education for children. “Gender ideology” is considered to pose a serious threat to the very fabric of society.

The phenomenon is widespread and occurs not only in Europe, but in the USA and Latin America. The movements are in most instances grassroots and locally based, and usually, but not necessarily, triggered by the Catholic Church.

While gender is the focus of AGMs, gender is used rather as a metaphor to stand for the entire progressive agenda. The narrative of anti-genderism is mostly based on the populist dichotomy of “ordinary people” against the “global powers” of transnational organisations and corporations that are held responsible for the dissemination of and imposition of the liberal world view.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Securitisation of migration in the EU: The case of Greece

On 26 February 2019, Foteini Kalantzi (A.G. Leventis Research Officer at the Diaspora Project in SEESOX, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, for the academic year 2018-19), gave a talk on the topic of “Securitisation of migration in the EU: The case of Greece”.

Kalantzi’s talk centred around the idea of the evolution of state attitudes towards migration, resulting in a shared tendency she called “securitisation”. The EU as a whole has considered the challenges and concerns caused by migration as a security challenge – especially since the 2004 and 2005 terrorist attacks in Madrid and London respectively. Her case study is Greece, which had to comply with EU rules on migration, including border controls, visa policy and the fight against illegal immigration, especially within the context of the Schengen Treaty. The paper traces the country’s own attitudes towards migration from 2000 and up until 2014, against the background of the dramatic changes Greece underwent after the onset of the economic crisis in 2009. The methodology used was based on discourse analysis of three major newspapers (Kathimerini, To Vima and Ta Nea) and parliamentary debates, as well as interviews with activists and people involved in various capacities in the migration waves since the early 2000s. Using these sources, she tried to look at the ways in which migration was linked to security issues in the public sphere, especially by elites.

Articulating identity options: Eastern and Southern European migrants in Britain

On 27 February 2019, in the seventh of the Diaspora seminar series, Laura Morosanu (University of Sussex) spoke on Articulating identity options: Eastern and Southern European migrants in Britain. The seminar was chaired by Jonathan Scheele (St Antony’s College, Oxford), with Manolis Pratsinakis (DPIR, Oxford) as discussant.

Morosanu’s paper was based on qualitative research carried out in the framework of a wider Horizon 2020 funded project on youth mobility in Europe (YMOBILITY), drawing on preliminary analysis of 77 interviews with younger migrants (in the 18-35 age bracket at point of migration); the interviews focused on a range of topics, including their perceptions of identity and where they felt they belonged. The presentation compared interviewees from Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Italy, resident in London, Oxford and Brighton.

She drew on literature originally from the USA (Waters), where ethnicity choices among “white” ethnics (of European background) were, in contrast to non-white minorities, often symbolic and seen as optional, and frequently a source of pride. She also referred to literature on “everyday” cosmopolitanism. The advance of globalisation and increasing cross-border mobility had contributed to a growing interest in cosmopolitan identities, and the concept of “rooted” cosmopolitanism, which sees these as compatible with ethnic choices. The research aimed to address the saliency of national and ethnic identities of European migrants in the UK and highlight other identities in their narratives, as well as the factors shaping their identity options.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Gendering Remittances: Women`s empowerment in Albania

On 20 February 2019, SEESOX hosted a seminar by Dr Julie Vullnetari (University of Southampton), entitled Gendering Remittances: Women`s Empowerment in Albania. The Discussant was Emre Eren Korkmaz (Department of International Development, Oxford) and the Chair Alev Ozkazanc (St Antony`s College, Oxford).
In her presentation, Vullnetari first gave a general statistical picture of the state of family remittances worldwide, then explaining the Albanian context of migration, drawing on her long-term research and academic engagement in the country. Finally, she went through the key findings of the research project she had conducted in 2007-2009, together with Prof. Russell King, for UN-Women.
Albania is one of the most interesting case studies given the massive scale of internal and international migration after the 1990s (9% of its resident population lost since 1989, mainly to Greece and Italy) and the significance of family remittances as a share of the country’s GDP. As regards the fiscal and economic significance of the remittances, she noted that the total amount was €1. 16 bn in 2017, or 10.8% of Albania`s GDP. At a micro-level, existing research has found that financial remittances constitute as much as 42% of recipient households` total income in the surveyed sample.

Friday, 15 February 2019

How to Lose a Country: The 7 Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship

On 14 February at SEESOX Ece Temelkuran launched her latest book “How to Lose a Country: The 7 Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship”. There was a large and enthusiastic audience.

Ece said that there were many books on populism. This was an attempt to get beyond the echo chambers, and also to speak to people without access to academic information.

There were three discussants. Ceren Lord commented that Turkey was not unique but was a text-book case of right wing populism, with a leader appealing to the “real people”, manufacturing victimhood, and presenting the “lesser evil”. Murat Belge liked the book. It was easily read and had a nimble pace: but was full of substance and informative. He agreed that Turkey was far from an isolated case. He had only one criticism: the reference to “democracy” as the starting point of the current Turkish dive into authoritarianism. Laurent Mignon pointed to the role of opposition politicians, and the role of religion, in the rise of populism.

In answer to these points, and other questions, Ece rhetorically asked how idiotic projects prevailed. Farage and Brexit were an example. How had mankind become so evil and stupid. There was undoubtedly a fear factor. Also, populism appealed to the “we” not the “I”. Populists used/abused concepts like security, home, dignity, protection. In their minds human dignity morphed into pride. They also misused the natural search for a meaning to life, and persuaded people to join their “cause” without explaining what it was.