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‘Refugee tragedies are a thorn in the flesh of the EU’

Published on 2. Juni 2014, 16:25 h

Sociology professor Thomas Faist addresses Bielefeld conference/ Topic of the conference: Social inequality and crisis

‘The never-ending refugee tragedies in the Mediterranean are a thorn in the flesh of the European Union’ says the migration expert Professor Thomas Faist in the run-up to a conference on social inequality and crisis in Bielefeld. ‘At the same time as EU representatives are demanding respect for human rights, the EU is turning desperate refugees away from its borders. This makes the policies of the EU open to attack,’ considers Faist. At the international conference from 4 to 6 June, Faist and about 30 further researchers will be considering when social inequalities are made a matter of public concern (conference title: ‘A New Social Question or Crisis as Usual?’). The conference is being organized by the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS).

For Professor Thomas Faist, the treatment of refugees and migrants is one of the factors strengthening populism. Photo: Thomas Abel/ Bielefeld University
For Professor Thomas Faist, the treatment of refugees and migrants is one of the factors strengthening populism. Photo: Thomas Abel/ Bielefeld University
‘In the case of the Mediterranean refugees, it is particularly the aid organizations that are decrying the suffering of refugees as a violation of human rights. It is they who are the champions of those wanting to enter the EU from outside,’ says Faist. These refugee tragedies are a striking example of how migration has become a new social concern in the 21st century.

At the conference, sociologists and historians will be discussing when the unequal treatment of people leads to protests and political interventions. Young academics from 13 nations including the Ukraine, the United States, and Greece will be presenting their research. They will be addressing, for example, the protest movement in the Ukraine, conservative activists in the United States, and the effects of the financial crisis in Greece. Alongside current topics, they will also be discussing historical cases. In addition, six renowned experts will be presenting their findings on the topic. For example, the opening speech by the sociologist Professor Loïc Wacquant PhD (University of California, Berkeley, USA) will address the change in urban suburbs in the United States. Professor Dr. Elmar Rieger’s (University of Bamberg) lecture will focus on how social policies have dealt with inequality over the course of history. The conference is being organized by five doctoral students at the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS).

The scientific perspective is being complemented by a political art contribution. The photo journalist and photographer Hermine Oberück together with Gertraud Strohm-Katzer, cultural manager of the Minden/Bad Oeynhausen adult education centre, will be talking about the artistic approach to the topic of migration and about the migration exhibition that will be showing until August at the Historisches Museum Bielefeld.

Are social crises the normal state of affairs in modern societies? This is the topic of a conference to be held by Bielefeld University’s Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS). Photo: Thomas Abel/ Bielefeld University
Are social crises the normal state of affairs in modern societies? This is the topic of a conference to be held by Bielefeld University’s Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS). Photo: Thomas Abel/ Bielefeld University
The conference will be held in the historische Saal of the Volkshochschule Bielefeld at the Ravensberg spinning mills [Ravensberger Spinnerei]. It will start on 4 June at 4 p.m. All interested persons are cordially invited to attend the opening day and join in the discussions. The conference language is English; participation is free of charge. The next two days of the conference (5 and 6 June) are only open to members of the university. Doctoral students and students are requested to register at: www.uni-bielefeld.de/bghs

The Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS) is an institution providing a structured doctoral degree programme in history and sociology at Bielefeld University. It adopts an international orientation, is open to all topics covered by the disciplines involved, and thrives on interdisciplinary exchange. It is one of two projects at Bielefeld University funded as part of the Excellence Initiative by the German Federal and State Governments since 2007.

Further information is available online:
The conference: www.uni-bielefeld.de/bghs/programm/ansem

Contact:
Prof. Thomas Faist PhD, Bielefeld University
Faculty of Sociology
Telephone: +49 (0)521 106-4650
Email: thomas.faist@uni-bielefeld.de

Dorothee Wilm, Bielefeld University
Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS)
Telephone: +49 (0)521 106-6514
Email: dorothee.wilm@uni-bielefeld.de
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