What is the politics of fear and what can fiction tell us about migration stories?

After a summer break, we’re back talking to Professor Ruth Wodak, The University of Lancaster and the University of Vienna, about her new book on populism, as well as to fiction writers Olumide Popoola and Annie Holmes, who have written a fictional book on the situation in Calais.

These parties try to represent themselves as the saviours of “the people”.

Ruth Wodak

In her new book, The Political of Fear: What Populist Discourses Mean, Ruth Wodak,  Emerita Distinguished Professor at the Department of Linguistics and English Language, explains how populist discourses function and how they have moved to the centre-stage of politics. She discusses how populist discourses uses notions of nationalism and identity to present scenarios of danger and fear. She also talks about the upcoming Austrian presidential election, where the populist candidate is up against the green candidate. The election, Wodak argues, will probably be determined by the conservative voters.

Refrigerated trucks are the best bet. If the smuggler is skilful, if he can open the padlock to let them in then close it again so that no one can tell it’s been tampered with, then the police are less likely to check a freezer than any other kind of truck.

Extract from Breach

Olumide Popoola and Annie Holmes both travelled to the border town of Calais in order to write a fiction book portraying the situation from the many different perspectives of the people living there. The book breach covers eight short stories told from the perspective of migrants, volunteers and local residents. We first hear authors Popoola and Holmes read an extract each from the book, before talking about what it was like researching and writing the book.

Was Brexit all about immigration and who are the children migrating unaccompanied to Europe?

In the aftermath of the EU referendum in the UK, in which the British population voted to leave, we discuss the prominence of immigration in the debate with Robert Ford, Professor in Political Science at the University of Manchester, and Kenan Malik, writer, lecturer and broadcaster. We also talk to Nando Sigona, Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, about the situation for unaccompanied migrant children arriving in Europe.

Both hostility to immigration and hostility to the EU have become expressions of a world that has gone out of one’s control.

Kenan Malik

Many have described the Brexit referendum as a referendum about immigration. Kenan Malik, who has written extensively on immigration, populism and identity, argues that while this is certainly true to a large extent, it wasn’t all about immigration. He also suggests that immigration as such, the number of immigrants coming to the UK, isn’t the root of the issue. Rather, he suggests, the more restrictions on immigration fail to resolve the underlying issues of marginalisation, the more those underlying sentiments of disaffection will grow.

The public don’t treat immigration or immigrants as a single undifferentiated mass. There’s very clear differences in how they view different parts of the issue. The problem is that policy and politics hasn’t treated it in that way.

Robert Ford

Robert Ford, co-author of Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain, points out that, while it isn’t all about the number of immigrants, numbers seem to matter in making immigration a political priority for voters. He also explains that the Brexit referendum was different than the 1975 referendum in that, back then, voters who were concerned with immigration were more pro-EU, whereas now anti-immigration and anti.EU sentiments go hand in hand. Find out more about Robert’s research here.

Imagine that you are accepted as a 15-year old, you go to school and at some point the social worker that is attached to the school thinks that, no, you’re actually not behaving like a 15-year old. So suddenly your age is questioned, your own identity is questioned. You go through a process, which might take a few weeks or months in ascertaining what age you are and then you may be moved to a different set of arrangements.

Nando Sigona

Nando Sigona, Director of the Institute for Research into Superdiversity and co-authour of Sans Papiers: The Social and Economic Lives of Young Undocumented Migrant, explains that there was a large increase in unaccompanied migrant children arriving in Europe last year. From his extensive research, he also explains why there are mainly young boys travelling on their own, why some disappear from authorities in Europe and the precarious situation of these children, some who are victims of trafficking or exploitation. Read more about Nando’s work on his blog.





Europe and the refugee crisis: perspectives from BISA

This episode was recorded at the British International Studies Association‘s Annual Conference in Edinburgh. We hear short versions of three research papers presented on the refugee crisis, by Dr James Souter, the University of Leeds, Dr Kelly Staples, The University of Leicester, and Dr Simon McMahon, Coventry University. Questions raised include whether accepting refugees is part of being a good international citizens, if the EU can really be held responsible for the refugee crisis and what the role of informal reception is in managing migration in Italy.

If a state refuses to recognise its reparative obligations to refugees then its inevitably going to be other states, that are often not responsible for producing those refugees, that are going to end up protecting them. That could be a kind of inter-state injustice.

James Souter

We first hear from James Souter and his paper ‘Good international citizenship and the responsibility to protect refugees‘. James argues that for states to act like good international citizens, they should admit refugees when they can’t protect them by intervening in a conflict. This argument led to a discussion of whether or not Turkey is a good international citizen, since it is doing more than many other European countries, yet offers poor protection for those it admits.

The EU as an institution does not have the authority which it requires to enact the kind of decisions that are needed.

Kelly Staples

Next, Kelly Staples summarises her paper ‘Contingent cosmopolitanism and the refugee crisis’, in which she analyses whether the EU as an institution has the kind of authority and ability to make decisions that makes it responsible for asylum policy. Her answer is no and we should look at member states for responsibility for asylum policy in Europe.

The incessant need to control and contain people doesn’t align necessarily with migrants’ objectives and aspirations.

Simon McMahon

Simon McMahon, lastly, presented his paper ‘Europe’s migration crisis and its responses: examining the interplay between formal and informal recepti0on dynamics’, which is based on two research projects where several hundred migrants who have made the journey across the Mediterranean have been interviewed. Simon’s paper focuses on the reception of migrants in Italy and he shows how informal networks of previous migrants and civil society are deeply interwoven with the formal channels of migration reception in Italy.

Brexit or Bremain? Immigration and identity before and after the referendum

In this EU-special we talk to Andy Mycock, Reader in Politics at the University of Huddersfield, about the role of identity and immigration in the referendum and to Madeleine Sumption, Director of the Migration Observatory, on what might happen to EU migration if the UK leaves the EU.

What we’re seeing is as much a debate about what it is to be British in the 21st century as it is about what it is to be European.

Andy Mycock

Is Scotland more pro-immigration and more pro-EU? Andy Mycock argues that this is the case to some extent, but that the question is more complex. He also views the issues of immigration and identity that are so prominent in the referendum debate as part of a longer trend of increasing identity politics in the UK. Andy has recently contributed to a new edited book on euroscepticism in the UK and has written widely on issues of identity and citizenship in the UK.

The debate about an Australian style points based system is a bit of a red herring. It is often cited as something that is designed to reduce migration to the UK, but points based systems like the one in Australia generally let people in without a job offer and has traditionally been designed to increase immigration.

Madeleine Sumption

Does the UK already have a points-based immigration system? Would EU-migrants have to leave if the UK brexited? Madeleine Sumption  [15:50] concludes that it is very hard to predict what immigration might look like if the UK decides to leave the EU, as this depends on what policies are opted for and what relationship with he EU the UK will have. Asylum may be the least affected area and current EU migrants don’t need to worry too much about having to leave. The Migration Observatory has investigated several key aspects of the issue, find out more on their website.

Multiculturalism versus interculturalism and is it the end of open door Germany?

Multiculturalism has got a new critic: interculturalism. Professor Tariq Modood, at the University of Bristol Research Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship, talks about his new edited book where the difference between these two ways of approaching diversity and cohesion is debated. We are also joined by Dr Timo Lochocki, Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund, to discuss German refugee policy and the success of the far right.

If I’m sensitive around issues of minority identity and the risks and threats to the loss of identity, well what if some majority societies say they feel that their own cultural identities are being disrespected by government policies and by the direction of events.

Tariq Modood

As one of the most prominent proponents of multiculturalism, Tariq Modood discusses the challenges that interculturalism poses and where the future debates on diversity and cohesion may be. In a new book, Multiculturalism and Interculturalism: Debating the Dividing Lines edited by Tariq Modood, Nasar Meer and Ricard Zapata-Barrero, the questions of how different states reconcile ethnic, cultural and religious diversity to forge unity is discussed. But what is the difference between multiculturalism and interculturalism? Is there a difference between Europe and North America? Tariq argues that the experience of Quebec forces us to think about majority cultures and he also points out that in the future, multiculturalists need to think about migration also at the border.

No German government will close Germany’s borders. However, with integration policies it’s different. Here the government is very keen on addressing conservative voters who they cannot address otherwise in closing the borders.

Timo Lochocki

Last year Germany opened its borders to refugees and around one million took up the offer. Now, the Merkel government is facing a threat from the far right, anti-immigration party the Alternative for Germany (AfD). We’re joined by Timo Lochocki, who directs the German Marshall Funds’ research on diversity and party politics, to discuss what is happening in Germany. Timo argues that Germany dealt well with the large number of refugees and now when numbers are going down, the capacity is there. However, Germans are still worried about capacity, even though they do not want to close the borders. Instead, the government is making integration policies more assimilationist.


Trading rights for migration and is there any light for the displaced Rohingya?

Is there a trade-off between migration and the rights of migrants? Chris Bertram, Professor of Social and Political Philosophy at the University of Bristol, and Martin Ruhs, Associate Professor of Political Economy at the University of Oxford, start this episode by discussing this dilemma. Next, Sarnata Reynolds, a human rights lawyer and director of Strategy for Humanity, tells us about the situation of the displaced Rohingya, who face ethnic cleansing in Myanmar (Burma).

We don’t think it would be justifiable to reduce the rights of native-born citizens for an aggregate gain in welfare and the same should go for other people who also have a moral claim to membership.

Chris Bertram

In a recent book, the economist Branko Milanovic has argued that migrants’ rights should be restricted in order to enable more migration, which in turn would reduce global inequality. Chris Bertram, who has written on the ethics of exclusion, has taken issue with this. Bertram argues hat restricting for example political rights of migrants would create an apartheid-like society.

Rather than restricting migrants’ access to the welfare state, why don’t we just change the welfare state and make it more contributory? The answer depends entirely on what perspective you are taking. Do you take a global perspective or do you take a national perspective?

Martin Ruhs

Martin Ruhs has argued in this book The Price of Rights, as well as in a recent research paper on EU migration, that there is a trade-off between openness to migration and the welfare state. He argues that welfare states that are more contributory, rather than based only on needs, find it easier to absorb more migrants.

Malaysia, as bad as it is, and it is really bad, is still considered to be better than Indonesia and Thailand. If you can get to Malaysia, you’re on your way to a better life.

Sarnata Reynolds

Last year, as thousands of Rohingya, a Muslim minority in Myanmar (Burma), fled persecution, neighbouring countries initially refused to let them in and they ended up stuck at sea. A year on, Sarnata Reynolds tell us that the situation has not improved, with the Rohingya having access to almost no rights in the countries that did let them in and there is very limited international assistance. Read more about their situation here and here.

What is the right to asylum and why are people crossing the Med?

This episode starts with a debate on the right to asylum and Europe’s response to the refugee crisis between Professor David Owen and David Goodhart, followed by an interview with Professor Heaven Crawley on new research on who is crossing the Mediterranean to Europe and why.

Europe’s bluff has been called. The EU has broadened and broadened the criteria under which people can come here. It didn’t really matter when people were locked away in prison states like Iraq and Syria. Now the prisons are open.

David Goodhart

David Goodhart is the director of the Integration Hub and former director of Demos. David Owen is Professor in Social and Political Philosophy at the University of Southampton.

Whereas David Owen puts forward the view that the entire world order of states suffers a legitimacy problem when refugees go unprotected, David Goodhart argues that it is a fantasy to talk about people having human rights when their own states are not protecting them.

Yes, we need a system of global refugee protection in place. We don’t have it. Now the question is what do we do under the present conditions. It is perfectly right that those who come to Europe get protection here.

David Owen

David Owen has made his argument about justice in international refugee protection in a recent contribution to a new book on the ethics of migration and here. David Goodhart has debated the issue here and here.

People who maybe moved to Libya for work have found themselves being caught up in a lawless situation where they effectively turn into refugees. So this idea that people are either economic migrants or refugees is challenged by our evidence.

Heaven Crawley

Heaven Crawley is Professor is chair in International Migration at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University. She leads the research project MEDMIG: Unravelling the Mediterranean Migration Crisis, which she tells us about in this episode [33 minutes in]. Their first findings show that there is an increasing number of families travelling from Turkey to Greece and that people have mixed motivations for making the journeys. To read the full research briefing click here.

What Muslims might think and what’s going on in the EU

In this first ever episode of Talking migration, we talk to Professor Ruud Koopmans on attitude surveys of Muslims in Europe and to Professor Andrew Geddes on his forthcoming book The Politics of Migration and Immigration in Europe.

In Europe we have a strongly conservative Muslim population that is confronted with the most secular people in the world.

Ruud Koopmans

In light of the attitude survey What Muslims Really Think that ICM commissioned for British Channel 4, we talked to Professor Ruud Koopmans, who has extensive experience of studying attitudes and issues relating to ethnic diversity. The ICM survey was criticised for its methodology and the programme for how the results were reported, yet perhaps many of the results were not all that surprising.

Koopmans also discusses his research on religious fundamentalism and out-group hostility amongst Muslims and Christians in Europe. He points out that the difference between Muslims and Christians is much bigger in Europe than in the US.

The deal with Turkey is part of a wider trend of externalising migration governance.

Andrew Geddes

Geddes forthcoming book The Politics of Migration and Immigration in Europe, co-authored with Professor Peter Scholten, could not be more relevant. In a Europe that is seemingly tearing itself apart over asylum ans immigration politics, what is the future for cooperation? Professor Geddes provides insights about the future of Schengen, EU’s relationship with Turkey and how Europe is in a way creating the refugee crisis by its border policies. Find out more about Geddes’s research here.