Total Pageviews

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.

Social protection and return migration: The Albanian-Greek migration corridor

On 13 February 2019, Zana Vathi (Edge Hill University) spoke on social protection and return migration, focusing on the case of the Albanian-Greek migration corridor. Biao Xiang (University of Oxford) acted as discussant.

Return migration to Albania has critically intensified in the past few years, due to the economic crisis in the different European countries to which many Albanians have migrated since the beginning of the 1990s, notably Greece, the country hit the hardest by the crisis and where the largest number of Albanian migrants have settled since the early 1990s. Based on qualitative research with migrants, their children and key informants in Albania, Zana explored the experiences of the returnees with social protection and their positionality towards social protection stakeholders. She argued that, despite return migration being overlooked in the social protection literature, her case study shows that return migration may be planned and experienced as a complex social protection strategy. In turn, social protection experiences are central to migrants’ perception of their return and (re)settlement process.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Fragmented communities: Diaspora politics in the Turkish-speaking community

The seminar on 6 February, on ‘Fragmented Communities: Diaspora Politics in the Turkish-speaking community’, focused on the current dynamics of the Turkish-speaking diaspora and their political engagement, viewed from a historical perspective in the UK context. Dr Mustafa Cakmak (Keele University) also offered a view of the new ways in which a new diaspora is generated via exclusionary political practices. Reflecting on the dramatic increase in the number of migrants and asylum seekers from Turkey since the failed coup in 2016, he discussed the new diaspora in the making. He also explained how long-distance nationalism functions, providing several examples of political engagement of major political groups among the Turkish-speaking diaspora. The other dimension he focused on was how the Turkish state tries to mobilise the diaspora in order to strengthen its power both at home and with its European and international counterparts.

His analysis was based on empirical data gathered through ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth interviews of civil society leaders, activists and volunteers in community centres, political associations, and religious centres of the Turkish-speaking communities in the UK.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Contested diasporic identities in times of crisis: The Other Bulgaria in the UK

On 30 January 2019, Dr. Elena Genova (University of Nottingham) spoke on “Contested diasporic identities in times of crisis: The Other Bulgaria in the UK”. Her presentation was based on her paper entitled “(New) Bulgarian Enlighteners and Ambassadors? The Reinvention of National Identity in Times of Crisis”. The session was chaired by Mehmet Karli (St Antony’s College). Manolis Pratsinakis (DPIR) acted as discussant.

Genova explored the intersection of the discourses produced by the European crises and migrants’ national identity. She argued that both the context of Brexit Britain and the Bulgarian context of socio-economic instability and political volatility, subject Bulgarian migrants to stigmatizing representations. Relying on her empirical data, she submitted that young Bulgarians drew on the related ideas of the “new” Enlightener and Ambassador to counterbalance negative discourses.

She began by stating that the Bulgarian diaspora was subject to a double-sided “othering”. Not only were they affected by the strong Eurosceptic sentiments in Britain, but also they were seen as ‘guests’ in Bulgaria too. Hence the title “Other Bulgaria”. After laying down the theoretical underpinnings of her research, with references to the discursive approach of Hall - the identity is about becoming not about being - and Elliott - reinvention of the self - Genova laid the ground of her analysis by giving the estimated number of Bulgarians in Britain; these were estimated at48.000, but in some estimates the number could be as high as 100.000.

Friday, 1 February 2019

The intergenerational memories of the democratic transition in post-junta Greece

On the 29th of January 2019, Kostis Kornetis, Santander fellow at the European Studies Centre for the academic year 2018-19, gave a talk on the topic of “The intergenerational memories of the democratic transition in post-junta Greece”. In his lecture, Kornetis asked “what is the role of memory of transition to democracy in Greece?” “How is the past remembered among the different generations?” and “Why does this matter?”
Starting from the present, Kornetis pointed out that during the course of Greece’s post-2009 economic crisis, we observed a generalised and influential discourse about Greece’s past which was often used for political purposes. The memory of the Greek transition from the military junta to democracy was the one central historical reference during the economic crisis, in that it was often used as a criticism for an imperfect transition which was to blame for the ills of the present. It is indicative that, in July 2017, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras claimed in one of his speeches that “what Greece needed, was a new metapolitefsi” implicitly pointing to the failures of this process. 
Kornetis emphasised that particular developments, such as the Polytechnic uprising of 1973, the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, and the return of Karamanlis to Greece, were amenable to passionate and controversial memory discourses for the generations to come.