Europe is faced with a great migration challenge. People from countries in surrounding continents wrecked by war and terror are traveling to the EU to find a save haven. Others see our continent as the promised land to find an alternative and prosperous future. Meanwhile Europe is divided on how to deal with refugees and economic immigrants. The public debate is dominated by incident driven media and populism and leaves little space for reflection and thorough argumentation. Europe by People invites professor of Migration Law Thomas Spijkerboer, professor of Sociology Godfried Engbersen and visual artist Olfa Ben Ali to talk about the threats and solutions, seen form their own field of expertise and research.
Thomas Spijkerboer will talk about the likely unintended consequences of policies that are being proposed in this time that he refers to as a perfect storm. His historical research teaches us that closing borders, strict procedures for immigration and sentencing are counter effective in reducing refugee numbers and mortal accident on the Mediterranean Sea. Godfried Engbersen has done research on the relation between migration, work and criminality. His research has been misused to make a a wide variation of argument on all sides of the spectrum. Tonight he shares with us the true insights and conclusions on the importance of integration. Olfa Ben Ali is a visual artist. Her work shares intimate stories about what it is for a refugee to live in an ‘alien’ country. Also it reflects on her struggle how to work as an artist on the subject of refugees and on how people in the West deal with this humanitarian challenge.
Professor of Migration Law at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Thomas Spijkerboer is an expert in International, European and Dutch migration law and legal theory in the categories of critical legal studies and queer theory. Since 2000 Spijkerboer works at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam where he established one of the largest research group on migration law. Here he co-directed the research project ‘Transnationality and Citizenship: New Approaches to Migration Law’ (2001-2006) and carried out the research project ‘Fleeing Homophobia. Asylum claims related to sexual orientation and gender identity in the EU’ (2010-2011). From 2013 onwards Spijkerboer is leading the research project ‘Border Policies and Sovereignty. Human rights and the right to life of irregular migrants’.
Professor of Sociology at the Sociology Department at Erasmus University
Godfried Engbersen is an expert on social impacts in relation to the welfare state. Engbersen’s current research focuses on irregular migration, the relation between restrictive migration regimes and crime, local and transnational citizenship as well as liquid migration from Central and Eastern Europe. Engbersen coordinates the knowledge atelier ‘Livable neighborhoods’, which is a joint initiative of the municipality of Rotterdam and Erasmus University. The aim of the atelier is to produce conceptual and instrumental knowledge, as well as to contribute to capacity building. Furthermore, he wrote the books ‘Remedies, The Unintended Consequences of Policy and Science’ (2009), and ‘A Continent Moving West? EU Enlargement and Labour Migration from Central to Eastern Europe’ (2010).
Olfa Ben Ali
Olfa Ben Ali is a visual artist born in Toulouse, France. She lives and works in Amsterdam. Ben Ali received her bachelor of art from Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam in 2012. In her work she uses film, video and film related installations to let vision and language interrelate and deal with the melancholy of loss, hopes for the future and the sometimes harsh contrasts of the present that stand in between past and future. Ben Ali’s parents are of Tunisian origin. As such she belongs to a new generation with strong roots in Western Europe and in North Africa, both historically and emotionally. Using language, her own experiences and minority discourse Ben Ali questions the relationship between contemporary migration issues and colonial history. Her work is intimate and poetical but also political and full of contrasts and it has a strong sense of humanity.