The Outsiders: Refugees in Europe and the West since 1492

Oct 15, 2020

11th Gerald Feldman Lecture (Virtual) | 11am ET | Speaker: Philipp Ther (Universität Wien)

The Gerald D. Feldman Memorial Lecture was established by the Friends of the German Historical Institute in 2010 to honor the legacy and achievements of Gerald D. Feldman (1937–2007). The lecture is generously supported by the many individual donations to the Friends of the German Historical Institute.

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Refugees have permeated European history, and the receiving states and societies have almost always profited from taking them in. The talk analyzes at first the major causes of mass flight and the often traumatic experiences on the lengthy routes of flight. Tracing the routes of the refugees, the narrative crosses the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, and so provides a wider vision of European history that includes the United States. Philipp Ther will then discuss why refugees were welcomed in some periods, especially during the Cold War, and rejected in earlier and more recent moments of history. The talk contrasts humanitarian and utilitarian motives for the inclusion and exclusion of refugees, and how they themselves attempted to influence the agenda of the receiving states. The structured account of refugee movements and admission is set against several biographical case studies, which show the itineraries, convictions and agendas of individual refugees, thus adding a strong human touch.

Philipp Ther is Professor of Central European History at the University of Vienna, where he also guides the Research Cluster for the History of Transformations (RECET). His book Die neue Ordnung auf dem alten Kontinent. Eine Geschichte des neoliberalen Europa was awarded with the non-fiction bookprize of the Leipzig bookfare in 2015. An English version titled Europe since 1989: A History was published by Princeton University Press. He has also published several other monographs in English, including The Dark Side of Nation States: Ethnic Cleansing in Modern Europe (German 2011, Polish 2012, Czech 2017) and Center Stage: Operatic Culture and Nation Building in 19th Century Central Europe (Czech 2008). His most recent books are a synthesis on the history of refugees in modern Europe Die Außenseiter. Flucht, Flüchtlinge und Integration im modernen Europa and Das andere Ende der Geschichte: Über die Große Transformation. An extended English version The Outsiders: Refugees in Europe since 1492 was published by Princeton UP in the fall of 2019. In 2019 he was awarded the Wittgenstein Prize of the Austrian Research Fund. This award is endowed with 1.5 million Euros and is the highest recognition for scientists in Austria.