Abstracts

Deborah Altamirano

“The Circulation of Care in Times of Austerity: Immigrant Domestic Workers in Greece”

Abstract: In 2009, the EuroFound Report determined that one in five undeclared jobs in Europe is in the household service sector. With an aging population and dual career couples, in the past two decades, more families have come to rely on immigrant domestic workers to care for the young and the elderly. In Greece, over 200,000 migrants have been employed as in-home domestic care workers, comprising 50 percent of all female migrants employed in Greece (National Statistical Service 2007). The result has been what Sonya Michel and Ito Peng (2012) refer to as the “migrant-in-the-family’ concept of care regimes. They find that in many European societies today, especially in the Mediterranean, families hire non-native live-in care-workers who assume “fictive-kin” roles, thus allowing employers to preserve ‘familialistic’ ideals of care that “reflect traditional care patterns” (2012:416). Migrant care-workers, who receive salary and housing, then transfer care to their families in their countries of origin in the form of remittances-thereby engaging in the transnational circulation of care.  But how do these “migrants-in-the-family,” who have been living in intimate family households, fare in precarious times? What becomes of these workers in the circulation-of-care when their employers become unemployed or have their salaries and pensions slashed as the result of EU and IMF imposed austerity measures? Ethnographic case studies in Greece reveal the liminal space that migrant care-workers inhabit in times of economic crisis and austerity. In some cases, care workers, once considered vital members of thriving and upwardly mobile Greek households, have been left adrift–unemployed and homeless–redefined as non-kin, non-national outsiders who represent an economic and social burden on the household and on the nation. Although the EU has enacted legislation to protect the rights and well-being of migrant care-workers, compliance has lagged. The precarious state of non-national care workers in Greece not only reflects the fragility of these fictive-kin based care regimes, but raises questions and concerns regarding the broader issues of national identity, inclusion, exclusion and the integration of migrants, both in Greece and in the EU.

 

Alex Caviedes

How Prominent is Immigrant Integration Discourse in the Press? Results from a 5-country study

Abstract: Immigration is an oft-polemicized topic within the European media. However, what are the most prominent narratives being promoted when immigration is referenced in the press? A 5-country comparison of conservative newspaper’s coverage of immigration and the frequency with which these stories deal with cultural integration demonstrates that the critique of immigrant integration is not the most common framing of immigration. Beyond dealing with the relative frequencies of the most common narratives concerning immigration in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and UK, this paper delves into what aspects of integration (i.e., language proficiency, religious practices, etc.) are highlighted most commonly within each of the five countries. The findings suggest that the press’ portrayal of immigrant integration across Europe varies in salience, issue focus, and over time.

 

Marilynn Desmond

“The Fall of Troy and the Origins of Europe”

Abstract: Throughout the medieval period, from the eighth century on, Western European kingdoms, noble dynasties and city-states claimed to have been founded by Trojan refugees who migrated westward after the fall of the ancient city of Troy. Narratives of secular history of the West always begin with the Fall of Troy, a city in Asia Minor. This pervasive notion of a “Trojan diaspora” promoted a cultural interest in narratives on the Trojan War and its aftermath; however, lacking Greek literacy, the medieval West received and transmitted entirely non-Homeric textual traditions on the Trojan War. The extensive circulation of texts depicting the Fall of Troy in Latin as well as all the vernacular languages of the medieval West represents a vision of Western Christendom as a network marked by shared ancestry and shared textual traditions.

 

Thomas Dunk

“Bear Ceremonialism in the 21st Century: A Comparative Analysis of the Commodification of Nature and Authenticity in Contemporary Europe and North America”

Abstract: The bear has long had a significant symbolic presence in the many societies of the global north. Irving Hallowell’s classic text on Bear Ceremonialism described the ethnographic details of bear ritual and myth in “traditional” societies where the presence of and interaction with actual living representatives of the species was likely. Despite the elimination of bears from much of their original habitat, they continue to be potent political signifiers within some regions of modern states. This presentation offers a comparative discussion of controversies centred on human-bear interactions in Central Canada and Southwest France. It seeks to elucidate how bears function as important tropes in debates about security, immigration, and economic transformation, especially in regions struggling to come to terms with the effects of neoliberal economic and social policies. The decline of agricultural and industrial activities, the growth of service and tourism sectors, and environmentalist and animal rights movements have significantly changed attitudes towards wild animals, and carnivores in particular. They have also transformed demographic patterns, and class and gender relations and meanings, especially in rural industrial and agricultural regions. In the cases discussed here, controversies around the death of bears by hunters and debates about the future of bear populations are important foci for defending and/or reconstituting local and national class and gender interests and identities. Bears continue to be important “other-than-human persons” (Hallowell) through which power circulates and is contested, albeit in terms unique to particular cultural and political contexts.

 

Kimberly Hart

“Turkish Sunni Transnational Migrations and Circuits of Knowledge”

Abstract: This paper traces how Turkish Sunni legitimacy is constructed through engagement with the Turkish and German states and religious communities, which have legal standing in both countries as associations, dernek or Verein. The circulation of people and religious practice, training, and legitimacy granted through state involvement creates a circuit of Turkish Sunni Islam connecting Turkey to Germany and back again. Through my ethnographic study of Sunni Islamic practice in rural western Anatolia, I found myself in Germany studying how Turkish imams led mosques for Turkish immigrant communities. Sunni Islam in Turkey is legitimized as well as constructed and contained by the Diyanet, the Presidency of Religious Affairs. In Germany the Diyanet is represented by the DITIB, the Turkish union for the institution of religion (the Türkisch Islamische Union der Anstalt für Religion e.V. or the Diyanet Işleri Türk Islam Birliği). But both Turkey and Germany host a wide variety of religious associations as well, which challenge and undercut the implied legitimacy of the Diyanet and DITIB. In this paper, I tell the story of two imams. Both are men from the same rural region of Turkey. One is appointed at a DITIB mosque and the other by an alternative, parallel religious association, the Süleymanci Brotherhood referred to in Germany as the Association of Islamic Culture Centers (Verband der Islamischen Kulturzentren e.V.). I will describe the connections and circulations among men and women who train to be religious leaders in Turkey, a path often taking them to Germany. This peculiar parallel system is the result of Turkish immigrants’ experiences in Germany since the 1970s, which have circulated back to Turkey reaching into rural Turkish modes of spiritual training. As well, this circulation of training and knowledge, people, and modes of legitimacy has shaped Turkish Sunni Islam in its official and unofficial, but legal, capacities. Thus, as I will argue, Turkish Sunni Islam is a translational product of movements, circulations, migrants, and patterns of donation, despite the fact that Sunni Islam asserts, through the state, a uniquely national character one grounded in the spiritual legacy of the Ottoman Empire. Key questions I will address are how spiritual legitimacy is constructed nationally and transnationally, how rural people from Turkey select different paths of religious training, and why some of these result in appointment at mosques in Germany.

 

Eileen Lyons

“National Identity and Eugenicist Debates in Inter-War Britain”

Abstract: Contemporary world events have brought considerations of national identity very much to the fore. In recent years, historians have begun to grapple with the constructions of such identities. The formation of national identity and the internal tensions between various interpretations of that identity have provided new understandings of political and social narratives. In the early twentieth century, the protean nature of national identity in Britain is particularly apparent. The circulation of people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds played a role in the defining of this identity. Much scholarship has been devoted to the issues of ethnicity, race, and the empire. At its height, the British Empire encompassed about a quarter of the world’s population. Even within the British archipelago, Celtic and other minorities raised questions of what it was to be British. Teutonism, the belief that the English as Anglo-Saxons were part of a broader Germanic race destined to supremacy, gained much credence in intellectual circles. While it is generally acknowledged that the outbreak of World War I shattered conceptions of what it was to be English or to be British, there is little consensus on what these understandings were. These questions become even more complex in light of national debates about the declining birthrate and the wide acceptance of eugenics among intellectuals. There were steep declines in the birthrates of particular ethnic and socio-economic constituencies in Britain – most notably among those of an Anglo-Saxon middle- and upper-class background. What did this mean for the definition of “Britishness” and what would it mean in the future? Eugenicist discussion of the permissibility of using artificial forms of contraception became mainstream in both religious and political fora. Eugenicists espoused a particular view of national identity and their projects related directly to that view. Successive Lambeth Conferences (of the Anglican Communion) considered whether the use of artificial birth control was morally acceptable. The interconnectedness of church and state meant that such a decision had a direct bearing on government policy. This paper will examine the shift in the Church of England’s position on the use of artificial contraception and how this related to identity formation.

 

Scott Moranda

“Crossing Borders to Discover a German Land Ethic: German and German-American Observations on American Farming”

Abstract: This paper will consider two very different types of circulation in the transatlantic world between 1870 and 1914. As they moved back and forth across the Atlantic, German-speaking agriculturalists and geographers consistently deplored the wasteful land use practices of Anglo-Americans. As they explained, “Yankees” failed to circulate nutrients back into the soil to prevent soil exhaustion; instead, they shortsightedly mined the soil for its fertility before moving westward to unscathed lands. While Karl Marx and his colleagues cited American agriculture as an example of how the capitalist ethos always promoted biophysical entropy, others used “ethnographic” studies of German-Americans to suggest that American soil decline had its roots in Anglo-American cultural practices. They believed that German immigrant farmers instead put down permanent roots and laboriously managed soil health in order to promote agricultural productivity. In this discourse, the German farmer resisted the temptations of materialism and instead cautiously avoided debt, avoided soil depleting monocultures, and carefully fertilized the soil with manure. Ethnic Germans, in other words, had a unique land ethic. Visits to American farms, I argue, were crucial for the construction of a German national identity whether at home or abroad. In interesting ways, concerns about soil decline also mixed with broader fears of cultural entropy. German-speakers were permanently lost to the German nation as they assimilated into the American mainstream. Furthermore, the narrow-minded capitalist ethos modeled by American farmers and adopted by some Germans threatened future cultural integrity. As natural resources went to waste, economies collapsed, generating social unrest and cultural decline. Cultural survival, therefore, depended on German and German-American agriculturalists cultivating and promoting a German land ethic. The German agricultural land ethic, I conclude, did offer a less wasteful alternative to common American practices, but it remained blind to German nation-state’s own exhaustion of soil on domestic farms. Despite the claims of some, Germany was not a self-sustaining economy efficiently replacing and renewing consumed resources. The production of the meat demanded by urban consumers and the supply of manure needed to maintain soil health on overextended farms increasingly depended on outside inputs of feedstock from beyond Europe.

 

John D. Occhipinti

“Identity in Europe: Security implications for the EU and US”

Abstract: Identity politics in Europe matter for a wide range of internal security issues that are important to the European Union (EU) and the United States (US). The paper explores three dimensions of identity politics and their relationship to internal security, particularly border management (immigration and asylum) and fighting transnational crime and terrorism. The paper considers identity and the European state system; immigration and party politics; and Islam and radicalization. Concerning the first of these, the paper examines sub-state identities, which present security challenges at the EU’s borders, as well as threaten to pull apart some states belonging to the EU and NATO. At the same time, the dream of a pan-European identity remains only that, which makes it more difficult for the EU to develop common and approaches to internal security that strike the right balance between effectiveness and attention to fundamental rights. Regarding immigration, the paper investigates how identity politics shape national and EU responses to immigrant communities and flows of new migrants, including irregular immigrants. In several EU members, citizens’ concerns about immigrants have fueled the rise of right-wing political parties, which, in turn have suggested that traditional national identities are under attack. The paper will survey the effect of these phenomena on border management policies, both at the national and EU levels, as well as any noteworthy implications for US security interests. Lastly, the paper takes up the particular issue of Islam and European identity politics. Here, the paper highlights the impact of governmental policies and public discourse on some European Muslims, particularly how they have come to feel alienated from their own societies, despite being citizens or long-time legal residents. The paper will examine how this has led to a search for identity among these same Muslims, making them more prone to radicalization or motivating them to travel to Syria and Iraq to join the ranks of other “foreign fighters.” The paper will then explore security implications of this for the EU and US.                                                                                                              

Thomas M. Wilson

“The Variable Geometry of Circulation at Europe’s Border and Boundaries”

Abstract: This paper examines the ebb and flow of the free movement of goods, ideas, capital and people as it has developed and been experienced in the borderlands of Northern Ireland. Based on over twenty years of intermittent ethnographic field research, this presentation seeks to explore various ways in which relative, contextual and proportional relations have accorded greater or lesser significance to the movement and mobility of things and persons at and across this international frontier. With reference to several metaphors that infuse either or both anthropology and European integration studies, the focus of the paper is on the variable geometry of institutional and group relations that impede or enhance the circulation of the ‘four freedoms’ enshrined in the Single European Market almost a quarter century ago. The paper concludes with a consideration of veinal and arterial conduits of items of material import in the Irish border region as one way to approach the growing attention in the social sciences to borders and boundaries in Europe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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