You are here

Migration Series

The Cornell Institute for European Studies (CIES) Migration series, launched in AY 2017-2018, conceptualizes the migration of not only people, but also images, words, ideas, technologies, objects, information, and food. The series aims to unpack the historical and contemporary relevance of migration in writing global histories and understanding the present, as well as to put Europe in its global context. This will critically acknowledge European countries’ role in the history of modernization and colonization of other countries within and outside Europe, and disclose the region’s character as an immigrant continent and diaspora of various peoples.

Family Separation poster

Friday, September 28, 2018, 4:30-7:30pm

Goldwin Smith Hall: Lewis Auditorium (G76)

Family Separation: Lessons from Europe's Past

Europe has a long history of family separation, which includes both violent immigration control and advocacy against these discriminatory practices. In this panel, scholars who have researched abusive procedures in gendered immigration control in Britain, Germany, Netherlands and the lands of the Ottoman Empire will present their studies. Building on her previous work on the British visa officials in London and the Indian subcontinent, as well as her vigorous campaign against such practices, Jacqueline Bhabha (JD, MSc, Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Director of Research at the Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights) will deliver her paper “Lessons learnt, forgotten or ignored? Family Separation in Europe and Beyond.” In her talk “Family Separation as a Tool for Genocide: A Look at the 1915 Ottoman Armenian Case,” Lerna Ekmekçioğlu (McMillan-Stewart Associate Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) will analyze the context and consequences of the Ottoman government’s gendered and familial policies during the process of ‘undoing the Armenian family.’ Finally, in her paper “The Trauma of Family Reunification: Hidden Jewish Children in Holland after World War II” Diane L. Wolf (Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Davis) will focus on the trauma experienced by many hidden children after war, and how their trauma coalesced around family reunification.


Jacqueline Bhabha (Harvard University)

Lerna Ekmekcioglu (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Diane Wolf (University of California at Davis)


Exiles in the 21st century: the new ‘population law’ of absolute capitalism

Monday, September 24, 2018, 4:45pm-7:15pm

Klarman Hall Auditorium

Exiles in the 21st century: the new ‘population law’ of absolute capitalism

Clearly the 21st century will be marked by the increasingly large number of exiles, i.e. uprooted and displaced people who find themselves “erring” within or between states and continents, suffering extreme hardship or facing elimination, and creating imminent “pressure” on states and societies, with moral, economic and political dimensions. This can be addressed from totally antithetic standpoints, leading to a polarization of attitudes with unpredictable results, on which the future of our institutions may well depend. While the origins of the exilic process are complex, and the statutes under which the errands themselves are categorized for administrative and ideological reasons are multiple, a neo-Marxist perspective may try and bring some clarification through the investigation of the “population law” that characterizes contemporary neo-liberal or “absolute” capitalism. The talk wants to describe and assess the value of this possibility.


Étienne Balibar (Kingston University London, Columbia University)

For more information

Blackout: The Necropolitics of Extraction

Wednesday, September 19, 2018, 4:30-7:30pm

Milstein Hall

Blackout: The Necropolitics of Extraction

This presentation addresses extraction, as well as the politics and aesthetics of emergent forms of resistance today. In view of spreading sacrifice zones given over to resource mining, abetted by exploitative international trade agreements and the finance of debt servitude, intensifying the causes of involuntary migration, what forms do the cultural politics of resistance take, and how are artist-activists materializing the images and sounds of emancipation and decolonization? With reference to the diverse artwork of Angela Melitopoulos, Allora & Calzadilla, and Ursula Biemann, which considers geographies of conflict in such regions as Greece, Puerto Rico, and Canada and Bangladesh, this analysis considers a range of leading artistic approaches that adopt an aesthetics of intersectionality that reveals complex causalities and effects, offers a modeling of politico-ecological interpretation, and proposes forms of solidarity with those on the frontlines of opposition.


T. J. Demos (University of California at Santa Cruz)

Co-sponsored with Department of Architecture

For more information 

Global 1968: Panel with Cornell Faculty poster

Wednesday, September 5, 2018, 4:45-7:15pm

Goldwin Smith Hall: Lewis Auditorium (G76)

Global 1968: Panel with Cornell Faculty

1968 has come to be seen as the symbolic date for one of the most influential breaks in the history of the twentieth century. Sudden or incremental, young or multi-generational, academic or activist, intellectual or managerial, quotidian or institutional, transformative socially or in political party systems, revolutionary or reformist, and most likely all of the above to some degree in different places, the critical juncture of 1968 and its global legacies are yet to be assessed. In its fiftieth anniversary, this conversational panel with Cornell faculty will present the short and long term impacts of 1968 on societies around the world, as well as its possible reverberations today. The speakers will make brief presentations on the history and legacy of this chronological marker in Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, Turkey and USA, among other locations. A conversation and Q & A will follow to construct comparative reviews of this moment of cultural upheaval, university protests and civil rights movements. The speakers of “Global 1968” will collectively illustrate the simultaneity and migration of revolutionary ideas.

Speakers: (in order of presentation)

Sidney Tarrow (Government, Law)

Elke Siegel (German Studies)

Raymond Craib (History, Latin American Studies)

Larry Glickman (History, American Studies)

Simten Coşar (CIES/Einaudi)

Iftikhar Dadi (History of Art, SAP/Einaudi)

Enzo Traverso (Romance Studies)

Moderated by: Esra Akcan (Architecture, CIES/Einaudi)

For more information


Exhibiting Yugoslavia

April 26, 2018

The Balkans region has long been seen as only peripherally associated with the project of modernity, and the lands of the former Yugoslavia have been construed in Western art, literature, and culture as Europe’s internal “other”. However, in carefully considering Yugoslav architects’ production and networks of exchange between the years 1948 and 1980, a very different picture of the region emerges. Martino Stierli, the Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, talked about his upcoming exhibition on the topic. Rather than a secondary backwater of the modern world, Stierli situated socialist Yugoslavia at the forefront of the period’s international architectural discourse, due in large part to the country’s diverse associations with architects on both sides of the Iron Curtain as well as in Africa and the Middle East. In this sense, the country’s architectural culture can be seen as a laboratory of globalization that undermined Cold War-era dichotomies. Stierli’s presentation was followed by a response by Saša Begović, the founding partner of Croatian-based 3LHD Architects

Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art, NYC

Saša Begović, Senior Partner, 3LHD Architects, Zagreb, Croatia

Moderated by: Esra Akcan, Architecture and CIES, Cornell University

For more information

Video recording


Arts of the Immigrant Continent Poster

The Arts of the Immigrant Continent

April 12, 2018

A panel discussion which addressed Europe as an immigrant continent, and especially concentrated on the relation between immigration and art, by bringing together artists ​and scholars who work on diasporas and migrant art in major European cities.

Leslie A. Adelson, Department Chair & Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of German Studies, Cornell University

Martin Rein-Cano, Landscape Architect, TOPOTEK 1, Berlin, Germany

Pamela Corey, Lecturer in South East Asian Art, Department of History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts, University of London

Moderated by: Esra Akcan, Architecture and CIES, Cornell University

For more information

Video recording

Crossing the Mediterranean: Migration, Death, and Culture

February 27, 2018

The International Organization of Migration reported that approximately 4000 migrants had died while trying to cross the ​Mediterranean Sea in the year of 2016, and approximately 3000 by the tenth month of 2017. This panel brought together an international group of scholars and journalists who spoke about the historical and contemporary traumatic experiences, such as deaths, accidents, colonization and forced migrations, suffered by those crossing the Mediterranean. Panelists exposed the extent of looted archeological objects across seas; discussed the violence of France’s spatial practices during the Algerian Revolution on both sides of the Mediterranean; ­ reflected on the main causes of people's drowning in recent years; and focused on the maritime arena as a mobile border that envelops migrants seeking to navigate structural injustices as well as ideological and violent conflicts.

Annetta Alexandridis, Associate Professor, History of Art and Visual Studies, Cornell University

Samia Henni, Lecturer, Architecture, Princeton University

John Psaropoulos, Independent Journalists, Athens

Maurizio Albahari, Associate Professor, Anthropology, University of Notre Dame

Moderated by: Esra Akcan, Architecture and CIES, Cornell University

For more information

Video recording


Outlawing Dissent: The Flight of Scholars to Europe

October 3, 2017

Kader Konuk, Chair, Institut für Turkistik, Universität Duisburg-Essen

Author of a seminal book on exiled scholars (Auerbach in particular) from Germany during National Socialism, and currently active with exiled scholars in Germany, as well as the founder of the Exile Academy, Kader Konuk addressed the historical and contemporary dimensions of violations of academic freedom. 

For more information

Video recording


Will this robot take my job?

October 18, 2017

Guy Hoffman, Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Ronald R. Kline, Department of Science and Technology Studies; Ross A. Knepper, Department of Computer Science; Adam Seth Litwin, Labor Relations, Law, and History; Kirstin Hagelskjær Petersen, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Sasa Zivkovic, Department of Architecture

Anxieties over the issue of migration and hostility towards immigrants seem partly related to automation and fears of unemployment. The panel addressed the relationship between migration and technology (part of “Critically Now” series, AAP).

For more information

Video recording


Migration of Images

October 24, 2017

Avinoam Shalem, Columbia University;  Saloni Mathur, University of California at Los Angeles

While our age is often named as the visual century, the historical relevance of image migration is relatively under-studied. The “Migration of Images” panel brought together scholars who spoke to the visualization of Muhammad in art books throughout Europe across centuries, geopolitics of exhibiting paintings and objects, and Bauhaus in India.

For more information

Video recording