Birmingham Salon

Home: Migration, Rootedness, Privacy

Takes place on Saturday 12th October 2019.
11.00 am - 5.00 pm
Upstairs, Old Joint Stock, 4 Temple Row West, Birmingham B2 5NY

Please join us for a day of debate and reflection looking at the effects of migration within Europe, what rootedness and belonging look and feel like, and on how we understand the boundary between private and public life. This Salon is a satellite event of the Battle of Ideas 2019.

Migration and depopulation in 21st century Europe
11.15 am - 12.45 pm

Dr Vanessa Pupavac, lecturer in International Relations - University of Nottingham
Dr Ceren Ozgen, Dept of Economics Marie-Sklodowska Curie Fellow - University of Birmingham

Chair: Dr Helene Guldberg

Since Poland joined the EU, around 3.5 million Polish people have migrated to other EU countries. In Romania, as much as 20 per cent of its working age population now lives abroad. Around a million Bulgarians work elsewhere in the EU – out of a population of seven million. These huge migration flows are usually discussed in terms of their impact on richer EU countries like Britain or Germany, but today there is a growing discussion about its impact on the country of origin as well.

On the one hand, this immigration has kept down unemployment and provided an important source of income for relatives through remittances. But on the other hand, commentators increasingly speak of ‘ghost towns’, ageing populations, and brain-drain. With dwindling working-age populations, one often overlooked feature has been the need for greater immigration into countries like Poland. For example, over two million Ukrainians have migrated since Poland joined the EU.

Another factor is that internal migration coincides with the ‘Fortress Europe’ approach to migration from outside the EU. Countries like Croatia, that are in the EU but not in the Schengen free movement area, are tasked with keeping out non-EU migrants, while at the same time losing hundreds of thousands of its citizens who’ve emigrated to other countries. Likewise, in Italy it is now illegal to rescue migrants attempting to enter the country via the Mediterranean. But this attitude exists alongside appeals from villages with tiny populations for people to come and live there.

Some expect these migration flows to stabilise or even reverse because migrants will return to their home countries once they have made a good living abroad. Others suggest that European economies will continue to demand large immigration to balance low birth rates and meet the demand for low-skilled jobs.

How does free movement within the EU affect attitudes to migration and citizenship? Should countries actively seek to reduce migration or should they accept it as a fact of the modern, globalised world? If they accept it, should they encourage immigration from elsewhere, and how? If they don’t accept it, what is needed to hold on to those attracted by opportunities abroad? And who should have the final say over this, when migration is an issue connecting so many countries and populations?

Reading material

Eastern Europe’s Emigration Crisis, Josh Adams, Quillette, 29 June 2019
The crime of aiding the wrong kind of human, Kenan Malik, Pandaemonium,16 June 2019
Migration can support economic development if we let it. Here's how, Mahmoud Mohieldin & Dilip Ratha, World Economic Forum,1 Mar 2019
EU migration policy, European Council, 7 March 2019
Central Europe: running out of steam, James Shotter, Financial Times, 27 August 2018

Produced by Rosie Cuckston

Lunch 12.45 - 1.30

Rootedness - more than belonging?
1.30 pm - 3.00 pm

Tereza Buskova - UK based Czech artist 
Niall Crowley - writer
Dr Greg Scorzo - philosopher, public intellectual, publisher and editor of Culture on the Offensive

Chair: Rosie Cuckston

‘It isn’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re going that counts.’
Attributed to Ella Fitzgerald

In the latter part of the twentieth century, the idea of rootedness came to be viewed as old-fashioned, undynamic and restrictive. ‘A community is something you grow up in and then get the hell out of’, said Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead. For many people, the time had come to throw off restrictions, whether of race, class, or religion, to which rootedness seemed inexorably linked. More recently the critic, writer, and TV presenter Jonathan Meades asserted that ‘roots are for vegetables’.

But one explanation advanced for the result of the 2016 EU referendum is that the embrace of liberal cosmopolitanism values has resulted in a backlash. For some critics, the importance of beloning and rootedness to people’s lives and to human flourishing has been underestimated. In David Goodhart’s The Road to Somewhere, ‘anywhere’ cosmopolitans are contrasted to ‘somewheres’ with a strong attachment to place. In the eyes of some, cosmopolitanism is superficial and an indulgence of the flighty well-off, although that might appear a troubling and excluding explanation to those newly arrived in the UK from other countries, hoping to establish a life for themselves and their families.

Giles Fraser, an Anglican priest and UnHerd columnist, founded and briefly ran a party called Home, focused not only on a pro-Brexit policy of taking back control nationally, but also linked to the housing crisis and people being literally unable to afford a home. There is also renewed interest in the philosopher and writer Simone Weil, who believed that a sense of rootedness was of huge importance in facing up to the human condition.

Who are the rootless anywheres? Are there still places where communities of the truly rooted can be found? This discussion will look what we mean when we talk about rootedness, and at its social, psychological, cultural and political aspects. 

Reading material

Why I left my liberal London tribe, David Goodhart, Financial Times, 17 March 2017
Clinging to our roots, Christy Wampole, New York Times, 30 May 30 2016
I Watched the Neighbourhood I Grew Up in Get Gentrified, Malakai Sargeant, Vice, 12 July 2019
In defence of gentrification, Niall Crowley, Spiked, 16 March 2016
If You Believe You are a Citizen of the World, You are a Citizen of Nowhere, Intelligence Squared, (recording of panel discussion)

Produced by Rosie Cuckston

Whose home is it anyway?
3.15 pm - 4.45 pm

David Vincent, Emeritus Professor of History - The Open University, and author of Privacy: A Short History (Polity Press, 2016)
Dr James Panton, Associate Professor of Philosophy - The Open University, and co-editor of From Self to Selfie: a critique of contemporary forms of alienation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019)
Chair: Chrissie Daz

“The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the force of the Crown. It may be frail, its roof may shake, the wind may blow through it. The rain may enter. The storms may enter. But the king of England may not enter. All his forces dare not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement." – Pitt the Elder

The foundational principle of liberal democracies, that a strict line be maintained between the private and the public, largely revolves around the sanctity of the home. But is it that straight forward?  John Locke applied the principle of domestic privacy as a defence of private property in general, even when such property is more social than personal in character.  And in the nineteenth century it was argued that only householders could be trusted with the vote.

Feminists have argued that the sacred character of a man’s home causes women’s oppression. But the translation of domestic violence as an issue into the mantra that the ‘personal is political’ has been used to attack privacy in many ways.  The Labour Government’s ‘Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act’ of 2004, for instance, gave to the authorities the power to enter your home in connection with unpaid fines.

From the right to smoke in prison cells and psychiatric wards to the erosion of tenant’s rights, the autonomy of the home has been eroding for some time. But when cohabiting adults and children are involved, how should we decide how much state interference is acceptable? How free should we be to interfere in the private affairs of our neighbours? And what are the implications when it is not our neighbours or the authorities but we ourselves who freely expose our domestic shenanigans to the likes of Facebook, YouTube and Alexa?

Reading material

Glass Houses: How much privacy can city-dwellers expect, Leo Benedictus, The Guardian, February 2019
We must barricade our homes against the state, Josie Appleton, Notes on Freedom blog, September 2017
Apple sends home workers who listened to intimate Siri recordings and apologises for privacy breach, Anthony Cuthbertson, The Independent, August 2019

Produced by Chrissie Daz

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