Faculty from Gallatin joined academic colleagues from all of the NYU European sites, Tel Aviv and Accra for intensive discussions at a symposium entitled Human Migration and Nationalist Anxiety in March. There were a total of 27 faculty members present for the roundtable event, including Susanne Wofford, the Dean of Gallatin and NYU Vice President for Global Affairs Nancy Morrison.
This year, the current refugee crisis made the Gallatin symposium – which Gallatin has organized at different sites since 2013 – especially urgent. NYU Prague became the fourth European site to host the event; earlier symposia have taken place in Florence (on the politics of collecting); in London (on human rights); and in Berlin (on migration and national identity).
According to organizer Professor Patrick McCreery, Gallatin’s goal in sponsoring these events is two-fold: first, to create a conversation about topical issues that is high level, small-scale, comparative and interdisciplinary; and second, to build intellectual networks among NYU-affiliated faculty in many different locations. They are especially concerned to introduce faculty at the Gallatin School to colleagues with shared interests who are part of the University’s global network.
NYU Prague is increasingly becoming a place where people interested in the topic of migration are coming together. A number of NYU Prague faculty are researching issues related the migration and earlier this year the Prague site organized an international conference called Tackling the Refugee Crisis in Europe.
In addition to conferences, NYU Prague is in the process of exploring the possibility of setting up an academic program on migration. “This could be a European hub for research about migration, where ideas merge, activities get discussed. Prague is a natural location for this given our complicated history with emigration, immigration plus our proximity to Western and Eastern Europe,” noted Professor Vanda Thorne, Assistant Director of Academics at NYU Prague.
This year, the conference covered three areas: Experience and feeling (how do people perceive the migration issue?), Sovereignty (how do European states define their national identity?), and the rethinking of human rights in the context of Hannah Arendt and post WWI. Participants noted the many differences between American and Europeans points of view – the idea of nation states in Europe has a huge impact on the view of migration here, as does the history of Communism. Participants included experts on migration flow, gender, politics, media and law, in addition to a leading contemporary Arab playwright and a medieval historian who brought broader perspectives to the table.
Participants agreed that in 2017 the symposium could change its format and open up to a wider audience. “We want to connect our discussions with real life, tie what we are saying in to NGOs, and offer academic support for institutions dealing with this, to field organizations,” said Vanda Thorne.