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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.