Research Update – Transit Migration in Europe: Methods and Dialogues

by Eleanor Paynter, PhD student in the Department of Comparative Studies

 

Prof. Luisa Passerini responding to a presentation Eleanor Paynter gave at the end of the seminar

For migrants crossing the Mediterranean and arriving to the southern regions of Sicily, Calabria, or Puglia, entering Italian space is, importantly, also both symbolic and legal entry into the European Union. I’m interested in how this arrival is, for many, not the end of a journey, but the beginning of a kind of limbo. How do migrants describe their experiences arriving to and waiting in Italy, for aid, visas, and the right to independent movement? How do these experiences intersect with or recall colonial history and the limited public awareness of that history? How do experiences of limbo influence migrants’ ideas about where they hope to settle, or about Europe more generally?

This summer I spent time in Central Italy exploring these questions through oral history interviews with recently arrived migrants who are at various stages of the processes of applying for asylum or other humanitarian visas. In fortuitous connection with this project, and thanks to a graduate student grant from the Global Mobility Project, I was also able to participate in the Summer Seminar “Memory, Visuality, Mobility,” held at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence and organized by oral historians Mary Marshall Clark and Luisa Passerini.

The seminar drew on work by both scholars. Mary Marshall Clark directs the Columbia University Oral History Master of Arts Program and the Rule of Law Oral History Project (see below). Luisa Passerini is the Principal Investigator of the project Bodies Across Borders: Oral and Visual Memory in Europe and Beyond (BABE), housed in the Department of History and Civilization at the EUI. The methodological approaches of BABE include interviewing migrants in Italy and the Netherlands. The seminar was organized around BABE’s multiple themes and methods, which sparked reflection and discussion on methodologies, in particular on incorporating visual tools into interviews and analysis, as well as on thinking about the context of a project in terms of archives. Our collective discussions of archives included scholarly work as well as visual and written narratives, movement, and sound. For BABE and for my own project, studying migration to Europe necessarily involves revisiting cultural archives, exploring and prompting understandings of the present as shaped by colonial histories. Approaching archives as changing, visual, living and lived constellations expands the possibilities of this kind of work.

Moving forward, my work on transit and limbo in migration has certainly been shaped by these experiences. The seminar’s focus on visuality addressed aspects of interviews and interpretation, from the visual aspects of language, to video art representing border crossing. In the oral history interviews I conducted after the seminar was over, I was more attuned to visuality. In walking interviews, for example, I paid attention both to the geographical itinerary, and to how the conversation between myself and an interviewee engaged the visual cues of our surroundings. A focus on on visuality and an attentiveness to the dissonant archives in which we work seem to me crucial for understanding experiences of limbo. I’ll close this reflection by sharing a few of the pieces and resources I found to be especially thought-provoking:

 

Note: Thanks to the Global Mobility Group for the opportunity to carry out this summer study. Funding for this project was also provided by the Mershon Center for International Security Studies, as well as through an OSU Global Gateway Grant.

 

Upcoming Lecture: Isis Nusair on Narratives of Syrian Migration in Germany

Date: Friday, October 20, 2017
Lecture: 12:00-1:30pm
Roundtable Discussion: 1:30-2:30pm
Where: 160 Enarson

The Middle East Studies Center will host Professor Isis Nusair (Denison University), who will lecture on her field research in Germany on how Syrian immigrants navigate the dominant narratives about their community.  She will take a close look at gendered narratives, and how women especially respond to these.

For more information, please go to MESC Events Calendar.

Following the lecture, there will be a roundtable discussion with graduate students.

 

Research Update – Nationality before Nationalism: Ethnic Politics, Geopolitics, and Sustainability of the Magyar Kingdom in the East

by George Andrei
Faculty Mentor: Nicholas Breyfogle

Panoramic from Citadel ruins (Râșnov Fortress, Brașov County). Photo by George Andrei

This honors-thesis project examines the migration and settlement of the Saxon “nationality” in the province of Transylvania within the Hungarian Kingdom from 1191 to 1400 (from just before the Mongol invasions (1241) to the middle of the Late Medieval Period). It attempts to understand the political and inter-ethnic effects of Saxon settlement in the context of the political, military, and social integration of Carpathian Transylvania into Hungary. The project analyzes how the Hungarian Kingdom utilized these relocated Saxons as an empire-building tool, allowing the Hungarian Kingdom to expand its empire. It also analyzes early governmental centralization efforts in Central- Eastern Europe by the Hungarian Kingdom. The differential utilization of different ethnicities became a significant topic at this time because religious differences between the Catholic Hungarian kings and the Orthodox Romanians played a part in the larger struggle for the dominance of Catholicism in Europe.

City wall of Sibiu (Sibiu County). Photo by George Andrei

This summer, I took an archival research trip to Sibiu, Romania, one of the first major administrative centers of the Transylvanian Saxons. Upon arrival to Sibiu, I met Prof. Dana Dogaru, professor of German at the Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu and an expert on the Transylvanian Saxons, who agreed to help with my research.

My time in the archives was limited by a combination of national holidays and protests which delayed access to the archival materials until nearly the end of my trip; however, I spent several days in the archives and got what materials I could.  Luckily, I discovered that many of the documents have been digitized. Prof. Dogaru assisted me in learning how to read the centuries old, handwritten Saxon script. The time spent in the archives, though it was short, was incredibly useful, and now I have access to scanned original sources which I can (slowly) read.

While waiting for the archives to reopen following the unexpected closure, Prof. Dogaru allowed me to examine and photograph analytical works from her personal collection.  I also visited sites important to the Saxon settlement – such as Slimnic, Biertan, and Sighișoara – and collected texts from local historians to get a local view of events.  Some of the books I purchased include:

  • Geneza orașelor medievale în Transilvania (The Genesis of Medieval Cities in Transilvania) by Paul Niedermaier
  • Die Ansiedlung der Siebenbürger Sachsen (The Settlement of the Transylvanian Saxons) by Thomas Nägler
  • Hermannstadt (Sibiu) by Harald Roth

Fortified Church at Biertan (Sibiu County). Photo by George Andrei

Upon return to the United States, I collected additional materials from OSU’s outstanding library and Inter-Library Loan Services, and shifted my focus from gathering to analyzing.  I still have quite a bit to go.  I have been able to find, online, four volumes of published primary sources gathered by Saxons in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, titled Urkundenbuch zur Geschichte der Deutschen in Siebenbürgen.  They are divided into volumes based on the dates of the documents (going back almost a millennium) and attest to Saxon presences and colonization.

My thesis will explore Saxon colonization, the Mongol crisis (first Mongol invasion), rebuilding, the Second Mongol invasion (which took place in 1285 and was repelled), internal struggles, and the lasting impact of these events.

 

George Andrei with his faculty mentor, Nicholas Breyfogle, at the Fall Undergraduate Research Forum – Photo by Theodora Dragostinova

Skills Gained

There are two skills that I believe I have gained that will be invaluable to my future aspirations: (1) the ability to read hand-written medieval documents in the script of the Saxons and (2) the research method that I had constructed for myself.

The handwriting of the Saxon notaries, of course, varied greatly, but there were many patterns and symbols that one can only learn in-person with a professional. I am very thankful that Prof. Dogaru took time out of her busy schedule to come with me to the archive and instruct me in the script. Without her assistance, I would have been completely lost, for while the German was similar to modern German, the letter fonts and symbology were radically different. Very importantly, I know how to access scanned documents through the archive’s website.

The research method that I have come up with is more than just reading the sources. I have come up with a way of indexing the materials that I read and wish to use, noting content, page numbers, and personal comments/thought process at the time of reading and analysis. This enabled me to make connections between texts, both secondary and primary.

Upcoming Events: The Work and Words of Filmmaker Dani Kouyaté at OSU

Ethnomusicology

The following events, made possible by a Global Mobility faculty research grant awarded to Associate Professor of Musicology Ryan Skinner, will be taking place over the next two weeks:

1. Monday, September 18, 2017 – 4:00pm to 5:30pm, 18th Ave. Library, Room 205:  A screening of filmmaker Dani Kouyate’s first (and award-winning) feature film, Keita: The Heritage of the Griothttps://music.osu.edu/events/musicology-lecture-dani-kouyate-film

Trailer for Keita: The Heritage of the Griot
Film
2. Monday, September 25, 2017 – 4:00pm to 5:30pm, 18th Ave. Library, Room 205: Conversation with filmmaker Dani Kouyaté and Professor Ryan Skinner On the role and significance of music and sound in the cinematic oeuvre of Dani Kouyaté.  Co-sponsored by The Ohio State University Libraries:
Discussion
3. Tuesday, September 26, 2017 – 7:00pm to 9:00pm, Wexner Center for the Arts: A screening of Kouyaté’s most recent (and award winning) film, While We Live, followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker.  Co-sponsored by the School of Music, African American and African Studies, French and Italian, Germanic Languages and Literatures, the Global Mobility Project, the Office of International Affairs, Ethnomusicology Program. https://music.osu.edu/events/musicology-lecture-kouyate-while-we-live

While We Live (Medan Vi Lever) – International trailer from DFM_FEATURES on Vimeo.

 

 

“Zionist Vipers and Jewish Pseudo-Nationalists:” Anti-Zionism, Liberalism, and Slavophobia in Interwar Greece

Paris Papamichos Chronakis
University of Illinois at Chicago

Tuesday, October 3, 2017
214 Denney Hall
3:30-5:00 pm

Please note this event co-sponsored by the Global Mobility Project, together with the Departments of History, Classics, and History of Art.

Fall Undergraduate Research Forum

Presented by OUR&CI and the University Libraries, the Fall Undergraduate Research Forum is a stepping stone to larger venues such as the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum.

The 2017 Fall Forum is scheduled for Thursday, September 14 in Thompson Library. The event is open to the general public.

Four students who are presenting at the Fall Undergraduate Research Forum participated in our Spring Undergraduate/Faculty-Mentor Grant Program.  Learn more about their projects below.

Gretchen Klingler

Session 1: 11:00am-12:15pm

Student Presenter: Gretchen Klingler
Booth Number: 40
Research Mentor: Jeffrey Cohen
Project Title: More Than Babel: Opening the Door to Iraqi Women’s Narratives on Migration, Assimilation and Hopes for the Future

Abstract: The President’s executive order regarding immigrants and refugees entering the United States from seven Muslim majority countries has been questioned heavily for the last 6 months. However, resettled families already in the United States continue to face a steady and increasing stream of xenophobic and anti-Islamic rhetoric. My work is centered specifically on Iraqi women as they confront life and establish themselves in the U.S. Building upon my

 

experiences as a translator during my time in Iraq, I have a unique opportunity to interview in both English and the Iraqi dialect of Arabic. My background knowledge and understanding of Iraqi culture facilitates my research and helps me build bridges with my informants. I have developed my project around my contacts in the Iraqi communities located in California Bay Area (San Francisco/Monterey), and Columbus and Dayton, Ohio. The research is framed within the theory of Feminist Anthropology, and Parin Dossa’s work with Iranian women in Canada (Politics and Poetics of Migration: Narratives of Iranian Women from the Diaspora (2004, Canadian Scholars Press)) guides my ethnographic study. I discern how women’s narratives differ in relation to their experiences and how their experiences fit into the larger social realities of settlement. How Iraqi women respond to their new and changing environment is at the center of my project. Are Iraqi women looking forward to the future? Are they taking new precautions as they adapt to increasing Islamophobia? Do they hope to return to more culturally traditional roles or do they look to embrace new opportunities and express their agency in new ways? More than storytellers managing their own lives, my discussion of how Iraqi women narrate their experiences in response to xenophobia will reflect their changing roles as women in their communities,

and the process of assimilation and settlement in the U.S.

Read Gretchen’s blog post about her summer research.

Andreas Moghimi-Danesh

Session 2: 1:00-2:15pm

Student Name: Andreas Moghimi-Danesh
Booth Number: 62
Research Mentor: Alexander Wendt
Project Title: Towards a Just Acquisition of Citizenship

Abstract: Despite widespread use of the term “citizenship,” there is much debate in the literature with regards to what citizenship entails and how exactly it is acquired. Legal scholars, philosophers, historians, and political scientists alike have all advanced arguments across their disciplines to either support or undermine different models of citizenship and citizenship acquisition. For example, while 97% of citizens obtain citizenship jus sanguinis or jus soli, meaning citizenship by right of blood and by right of soil, respectively, there exist many moral and legal objections to these models. In my research, I examine Ayalete Shachar’s The Birthright Lottery, which essentially serves as Shachar’s entry into this ideological race. Contrary to traditional definitions of citizenship, Ayalete Shachar’s The Birthright Lottery posits that citizenship is an inherited property. While this theory advances general moral theorizations and assessments of trends such as nativism, it fails to address the jurisprudential ramifications of labeling an entity such as citizenship as being property, specifically an inherited property. In pursuit of satiating the absence of a jurisprudential nexus in Shachar’s argument, this paper applies the logic of various legal theories of property to modern models of the just acquisition of citizenship. In doing so, this paper will demonstrate how Shachar’s taxonomization of citizenship as property is an equivocation with dangerous consequences. Ultimately, once this “stress test” has been applied to Shachar’s argument, it will be clear that on normative and practical levels, Shachar’s entry is as insufficient as it is threatening to the establishment of a more just acquisition of Citizenship in the modern day.

Carley Reinhard

Session 2: 1:00-2:15pm

Student Name: Carley Reinhard
Booth Number: 77
Research Mentor: Stephanie Shaw
Project Title: Examining African American Slave Migrations through Folklore in the W.P.A. Ex-Slave Narratives

Abstract: During the 1930s, as part of the W.P.A. Federal Writer’s project, over 2,000 interviews of former slaves were completed. These interviews were transcribed and compiled into a grand collection of first-person accounts of all the former slaves who could be located at the time. Within many of these narratives, hundreds of accounts detail folktales the slaves grew up hearing in their communities. The development of these folk stories, which seem unique to African American slaves in their specifics if not in their generalities, reflect aspects of the larger development of African American culture that arose due to forced migration from Africa and, for some, their movement from the upper-South to the Lower South and Southwest as slavery expanded in the United States. Thus, these stories, along with other aspects of African American culture, arose in part as a product of the intersection of traditional African folklore and new circumstance. This research seeks to explore these stories, determining their origin and tracing their development and their dispersal. This will not only contribute to the current studies of the African Diaspora, but it will also contribute greatly to studies of the inter- and intrastate migrations of slaves that never delve into the culture of slaves and to the cultural studies of slavery that don’t pay much attention to the migrations of slaves. It is my hope through the course of this research to arrive at a more complete understanding of both the significance of African American folklore and the factors, including migration, that shaped it.

George Andrei

Session 3: 2:45-4:00pm

Student Presenter: George Andrei
Booth Number: 4
Research Mentor: Nicholas Breyfogle
Project Title: Nationality before Nationalism: Ethnic Politics, Geopolitics, and the Sustainability of the Magyar Kingdom in the East (1191-1400)

Abstract: The medieval kingdom of Hungary, founded by St. Stephan, was a patchwork of many ethnicities–Germans, Hungarians, Vlachs, Szekelys, and many others–sedentary and nomadic, Catholic and Orthodox. It was also situated on the very eastern border of Western Christendom; as such, its defense was of vital importance not solely to the local rulers, but for Rome as well. One group–itself multiethnic in nature–was made up of German colonists to southeastern Transylvania. First arriving in the middle of the XII century, the Saxons, as they are known collectively today, settled near several Vlach “countries”: simple confederations of Vlach villages which held significant sway over their domains. The Vlachs, predecessors of modern Romanians, had presences in modern Romania and Serbia, and spoke Latin-based dialects. My research explores how the Vlachs and Saxons would later come to play vital roles in maintaining the Hungarian Kingdoms domains in the east. I argue that the Saxons were, from the beginning of their colonization, used as a tool by the Hungarian Crown and other authority figures in the region to expand, stabilize, and dominate the area: drawing in, after the Mongol invasions, desperately needed manpower, taxes, and support from the local populations. Reading a plethora of published sources by Hungarian, German, Romanian and other historians, both contemporary and more antiquated, as well as archived primary sources from the Romanian national archives, I will argue that the Hungarian authorities enabled the Saxons to flourish by granting specific privileges, which allowed the Hungarian kingdom to acquire land, peoples, and thus providing greater stability in the east. This research provides another view at the long history of ethnic and religious minority groups used by authorities to fill certain societal roles, one from an area often overlooked by Western historians.

Read George’s blog post about his research here.

 

*Photos by George Andrei and Theodora Dragostinova

Love Notes for Dreamers

This may be of interest to those concerned with the uncertain future of DACA:

Members of the OSU community are organizing two interactive activities on the South Oval (behind Hagerty Hall) Wednesday, September 13th and Friday 15th from 9am-5pm for individuals to create and view messages of support for buckeyes affected by the DACA policy change. Messages will be collected throughout the week at various locations and turned into a visual collage on-site. In conjunction, they will be collecting signatures from faculty endorsing President Drake’s message on the DACA Decision.

President Michael V. Drake’s Statement about DACA Students at OSU

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

Our university derives great strength from bringing together outstanding individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. Inclusive excellence enriches our pursuit, discovery and sharing of knowledge.

Today, the Department of Homeland Security issued a memorandum with significant implications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Our DACA students arrived in this country as children and have grown up working to make real the American Dream. They have overcome barriers, often against the odds, were admitted to our competitive institution and contribute greatly to our success.

I want to restate that we support our DACA students unequivocally, are committed to their success and will work diligently to gather and respond to their concerns. We also support those programs established to help them achieve their goals, and we are advocating strongly with our elected officials, homeland security and colleagues across higher education for a just resolution.

This afternoon we sent a letter to Ohio’s congressional delegation urging them to take swift action to find a bipartisan solution that will, at a minimum, codify the existing DACA policy into law. “Education for Citizenship” is our motto, regardless of nation of origin. We stand proudly with all Buckeyes.

Sincerely,

Michael VDrake, MD
President

Upcoming Lecture: Tomislav Z. Longinović – The Balkan Route: Space, Translation, Imagination

Tomislav Longinović (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
The Balkan Route: Space, Translation, Imagination
Date: October 9, 2017, 1:30-3:00 pm
Location: Knowlton Hall 190

Sponsors: The Office of International Affairs, The Global Mobility Project

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East into Europe has challenged the existing notion of national boundaries and demonstrated an increased need for a public policy that would take into account problems arising from the forced movement of population on such a large scale. Media reporting of the crisis focuses on the plight of miserable migrants who are using Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary as transition points to reach the wealthier countries in Europe. Needless to say, countries comprising the European Union have had vastly differing responses to the issue of national boundaries and their permeability in the ongoing migration crisis.

This paper uses the innovative methodology of cultural translation to analyze this phenomenon by calling for a new understanding of trauma, space and identity in the Balkans in particular and Europe in general. Translation is understood here not only as a practice that transfers meaning in the narrow linguistic sense of the word, but also as the process by which broader social and political formations are carried over from one culture to another. Or, as the eminent Spanish language translator Gregory Rabassa said: “Every act of communication is an act of translation.” As global subjectivity becomes increasingly dominated by communication across languages and cultures, as well as between geographical and virtual spaces, the universe emerging among the interacting economies is characterized by processes of translation that alter the simplified imaginary perceptions of “others” that are currently built into the cultural unconscious of particular national imaginaries.

Outreach Event: Global Migration Discussion Group for K12 Teachers

Saturday, September 30, 2017 – 10:00am to 12:00pm
Saturday, October 21, 2017 – 10:00am
Enarson Classroom Building 160
The year 2015 saw the highest numbers ever recorded of international migrants worldwide. Over 244 million people live outside their countries of origin, making one and seven humans on earth a migrant. Of this number, 65.3 million people have been forcibly moved due to war or persecution.  With more people on the move than ever before, and with our own government reducing immigrant and refugee quotas, it is crucial that we understand human mobility from a global perspective.

The five area studies centers in the Office of International Affairs at The Ohio State University have collaborated to create the Global Migration Discussion Group for K12 teachers. The group will meet on Saturdays five times throughout the 2017-2018 school year. The group will explore trends in migration in Africa, East Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Each meeting will host a migration expert whose presentation will focus on themes in migration in one of the five world regions.

Following the presentation there will be time for a discussion based on a pre-assigned reading covering the topic presented. Teachers are invited to attend as many sessions as they’d like and are eligible to earn a contact hours’ certificate for each session attended, and one C.E.U. for attending all five sessions.

Meetings will be held in Enarson Classroom Building 160, from 10:00am-12:00pm on the following Saturdays:

September 30: Center for Slavic and East European Studies presents:

  • Resilience in the Face of Exclusion: Irregular Migration on the Closed Balkan Route by Kathryn Metz

October 21: Middle East Studies Center presents:

  • Gendered Narratives of Syrian Migrants by Isis Nusair (Denison University)

January 13: Center for African Studies presents:

  • Eleanor Paynter (Ohio State), topic: TBD

February 17: Center for Latin American Studies presents:

  • Performances of Suffering in Latin American Migration by Ana Puga (Ohio State) and Victor Espinosa (Ohio State)

April 7 or April 14: East Asian Studies Center presents: TBD

Please visit the CSEES website for more information.

RSVP to Kathryn Metz if you would like to attend