Refugees or Immigrants? The Migration Crisis in Europe in Historical Perspective

In January, historian Theodora Dragostinova wrote an article for Origins which explored the causes and pathways of today’s refugee crisis and reminded us that displacement and migration have long defined European history.

Read the article here:

Theodora Dragostinova and Robin Judd on History Talk

Back in October 2015, Steven Hyland, Theodora Dragostinova, and Robin Judd were invited to discuss the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe and the Middle East on the History Talk Podcast.  Below is a link to the podcast and the episode summary.

Over the past months, the news media has presented dramatic scenes of desperate people trying to reach Europe by embarking on flimsy boats in Turkey and Greece, crossing barbed wire fences in Bulgaria and Hungary, catching rides in overcrowded trains in Macedonia, and sleeping in public squares in Serbia and elsewhere. But many more refugees find themselves in Middle Eastern countries like Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon. This is hardly the first time that Europe or the Middle East has experienced mass migration. And all of the migrants in these two regions are but a small proportion of the total number of migrants across the globe. Locals are divided; while some greet the refugees with water, blankets, and toys, others utter ugly words, emphasize their own economic vulnerability, or simply turn their eyes away. Join guestsTheodora Dragostinova, Robin Judd, and Steven Hyland as they discuss today’s refugee and migrant crisis in not only Europe but in the Middle East, too—all within the much larger context of global migration history.

About the Global Mobility Project

The Global Mobility Project at Ohio State

Humanities & Arts Discovery Theme Pilot Project


Vera Brunner-Sung, Jeffrey Cohen, Theodora Dragostinova, Yana Hashamova, and Robin Judd

Global mobility is a defining issue for the 21st century. The Global Mobility Project at Ohio State integrates the insights of the arts, humanities, and social sciences to facilitate both a conversation and an investigation of how local culture and individual decision-making inform and reflect the complex global forces behind mobility. We give a central role to the humanities and arts as we reimagine the human dimensions and dynamic cultural reverberations of the movement of peoples, internationally and locally.

A world without borders seemed certain with the end of the Cold War. Yet today, there are more than 65 million refugees and 253 million migrants worldwide whose presence challenges the notion of open borders. Xenophobia and ultranationalist political parties are on the rise. But movers also navigate distances and cultural expectations in more fluid ways, making choices based on personal or community reasons. Our group allows Ohio State to play a leading role in the vital discussion of these global challenges, gaining insight into their causes, dynamics, and outcomes.

Our project integrates the expertise of five faculty members working on global mobility from the perspectives of anthropology, history, literature, film/media studies, and filmmaking. Focusing on two main research questions, what does it mean to leave home and how do communities accept newcomers, we foster the exchange of ideas on campus, engage students in and outside the classroom, and forge connections with the wider community in Columbus and beyond. Our work is a foundation for a permanent program in Global Mobility with research, creative, instructional, and public outreach missions.