[URBANTH-L] CFP: Labor migration and Europeanization Process after 1989/91 (Poland)

Angela Jancius jancius at ohio.edu
Tue May 15 12:43:20 EDT 2007

Call for Papers

Labour migration and Europeanization processes after 1989/91 K.U.Leuven,
second half of January 2008

The fall of the Communist regimes and the difficult transition to a free
market economy stimulated many people in Central and Eastern Europe to
leave their country. Most of them moved to Western Europe and found a
job as domestic workers (cleaning woman, building worker, plumber,
etc.). In several European cities, big Central European communities
arose. Some of them, for instance the ones in London and other British
cities, count hundreds of thousand people since the EU enlargement of

These migration waves have not only influenced economy, but have also
stimulated contacts between different European ethnic and national
groups. The immigrants themselves face new social structures, values,
principles, and behaviour patterns. Since they also keep in touch with
their homeland (their movement is often considered as a pendulum
migration), they share some of their experiences with their compatriots
staying at home. Also Western Europeans have been influenced by this
migration. The employment of a Central European worker was often the
first direct contact with an individual from the Eastern part of the

At the conference, we want to analyze to what extent these migration
waves had and have an influence on the construction of a European
identity. How have contacts between employers and employees changed
mutual perception and classic stereotypes? Are the identification
processes negligible and what are the reasons (e.g. the confirmation of
each other's otherness or the lack of intense contacts and a common
language)? Or have they led to the discovery of common features and, if
so, which ones and which frameworks are they put in (geographical and
other ones)? Special attention will be paid to the European context and
the representations, perceptions and divisions of the continent. This
can include questions concerning, for instance, the influences of these
contacts on the classic East-West division and the role of the 2004
enlargement on the political structuralization of strictly speaking
illegal contacts. The research will focus on both hosts (employers) and
guests (employees) and analyze if and how Europeanization processes have
differed between these groups.

This conference is organized in the framework of a research project at
the Jagiellonian University (Krakow) and the K.U.Leuven, that is
subsidized by the Polish Minister of Science and Higher Education. It
will present the first results of the analyzis of dozens of in-depth
interviews concerning the Europeanization processes among Polish
migrants in Belgium and their employers. However, the subject will be
put in a broader context and other questions are welcomed. Do Western
Europeans have other perceptions of Eastern European immigrants than of
other migrant groups, for instance from the Far East or the Maghreb
countries? How have these processes developed the last fifteen years:
recent immigrants seem to have a different profile than the ones who
migrated in the 1990s, children are sometimes raised in Western Europe,
and these new groups must have another stance towards their
Europeanization. How should we assess the influence of this labour
migration on the homeland regions: next to financial input, it also
causes difficult social situations, such as split families and disturbed
neighbour relations. Which roles do immigrants play in other cases of
geopolitical identification and perception?

Proposals (counting ca. 300 words) dealing with such research questions
can be sent before 31 June to uzniedzw at cyf-kr.edu.pl or
idesbald.goddeeris at arts.kuleuven.be. A selection will be made before the
end of August. Part of the conference proceedings will be published. 

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