City of Women – Euro Summit


‘It is essential that Europe shed its image and representation as a continent whose migration history is confined to the mass emigrations of the past. … Immigrations from near and far have been and are an integral part of Europe.’
(Saskia Sassen)

What is Europe? A geopolitical region with shared homogeneous values and a common cultural history based on a set of universal ideas? Or is it a site of ongoing migration, mobility and cultural fusion? Who belongs to Europe, who is considered a threatening outsider, a more or less tolerated guest, or an authentic European? Where are its borders, where are the centres, who defines them and who transgresses them?
A close examination of European history shows that Europe has always been pluri-ethnical and trans-cultural. However, we currently witness a strong effort to construct a narrative of a common, homogeneous European identity, based on the assumption of common values and ethnic characteristics (such as white, Christian, rational, not nomadic, not black, not Muslim—all categories designed to define and distinguish those who belong from those who don’t). This is best seen in the strengthening of the eastern and southern European external borders and the tightening of immigration regulations across the New Europe. Since measures to exclude ‘others’ go together with the construction of cultural, religious or ‘racial’ otherness, racial minorities within the EU have gradually become targets of this ‘othering’. Slovenia, one of the accession countries, participates in these processes with its efforts to strengthen its borders, its ongoing discourses on European identity, and its rising xenophobic attitudes, which also easily find their way onto the pages and screens of the mass media.
These processes are not gender-neutral. Questions of migration, of national and cultural identity are often negotiated in gendered terms: for instance, questions of immigration and multiculturalism in Germany or France escalate in conflicts around Muslim women wearing the scarf; the ethnicised ‘Other’ in media coverage is often constructed as a women; women play a growing, economically important role in current cross-border circuits such as illegal trafficking in people for the sex industry and for various types of formal and informal labour markets. At the same time, women are rarely seen as active subjects in political and cultural discourses on migration, identities, cultural representation, but rather as victims—of male oppression, of traffickers, of ‘traditional’ cultural beliefs.

To investigate and debate the links between gendered, cultural and ethnic exclusion in the New Europe, the City of Women Festival – in collaboration with the Peace Institute – has organised a City of Women - Euro Summit.
The invited experts are:

Saskia Sassen (USA): European Immigration Policies — Is This the Way to Go?
Saskia Sassen’s analysis of global transfers of money and power has earned her a reputation as one of the world’s leading experts on globalisation. In one of her recent publications, Guests and Aliens, she brings her impressive interpretative skills to bear on the related issue of immigration, putting current European diagnoses of ‘crisis’ into historical perspective. Guests and Aliens shows the causes behind immigration that have historically led to nations either welcoming in-comers as ‘guests’ or disparaging them as ‘aliens’. Sassen describes the relative normality of the pursuit of work across borders throughout the history of Europe. She deconstructs the current myth of ‘mass invasion’, criticises the resulting policies of border-closure, and especially stresses the usefulness of immigration for (Western) Europe’s economic growth, both in the past and today.
In her keynote speech at the City of Women - Euro Summit, Sassen will present her insightful geopolitical, economic, and gendered analysis of today’s migration processes and policies in Europe and their re- and mis-representations in politics, the media, and public opinion.
One of today’s most lucid, imaginative, and visionary social scientists, Sassen is a professor of sociology at the University of Chicago. Her books include The Global City, The Mobility of Labor and Capital, Loosing Control and Globalization and its Discontents. She lectures, teaches and acts as consultant for policy-makers worldwide. She received numerous awards and is distinguished professor and guest lecturer at many universities.

Rutvica Andrijasevic (Croatia / the Netherlands): The Difference Borders Make: Sex-Trafficking of ‘Eastern’ European Women in Italy
‘Immigration crisis!’ and ‘Emergency immigration!’ are just two of many such headlines that appeared in various European newspapers in recent years. Media imagery of this sort stirs up fears of invasion and encourages the notion of migration as a crisis in need of containment. Rutvica Andrijaševic will take a closer look at the gendered aspect of the visual rendering of border-crossings to show how migrant women, who tend to fall out of view, gain visibility when portrayed as the victims of trafficking. By looking at the processes of representation and how meanings are produced and allocated in the public discourse, her analysis sheds light on various, often overlooked, aspects of sex-trafficking. Her study, which is based on the biographical narratives of trafficked women in Italy as well as on media imagery and policy discourses on migration, exposes the gaps between official discourses, official policies, and women’s narratives. She argues that ‘trafficking’ as such is an inadequate category to account for the complexity of current social-political transformations in Europe or women's experiences of international migration
Rutvica Andrijaševic is a Ph.D. candidate at the Netherlands Research School of Women’s Studies at Utrecht University. Her interests and writings are located in an interdisciplinary framework of sociology and cultural and women studies; the key issues of gender, race, borders, and migration are common threads throughout her work. After studying literature at Trieste and Bologna University, she finished her second M.A. in gender studies at the Central European University in Budapest. As the recipient of a grant from the Open Society Institute, as well as an affiliate to the Zagreb Centre for Women’s Studies, she is currently completing her doctoral degree at Utrecht University. Her publications include Fortress Europe: Old Boundaries, New Borders; Europe and Migration: The Myth of Invasion and the Danger of Historical Amnesia’, Leggendaria, 23 (2000).
More at:

Tatjana Perić (Serbia): At The Doors of Fortress Europe: The Case of the Roma
The rise of racism and xenophobia and the lack of adequate mechanisms for opposing them have resulted in new migration waves among Central and East European Roma seeking refuge in western parts of the continent. Grim reality shows, however, that for the Roma, the doors of Fortress Europe remain firmly shut. West European states have failed to provide Roma access to real and substantive asylum procedures, have discriminated against them in border decisions and policies, and have carried out individual and collective expulsions of Roma. As West European countries reject asylum-seekers and engage in accelerating their return to their countries of origin, there seems to be little if any regard for the difficult conditions Romani returnees encounter upon their return. Once they are back, the plight of the Roma continues, and they remain unwanted no matter where they go.
Tatjana Peric is a former researcher with the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and has published many works on the human rights situation of the Roma in Southeastern Europe. She is a former Pew Fellow of the Religion, Religious Freedom and Human Rights Program at Columbia University (New York) and a graduate of the Bossey Graduate School in religion and peacemaking of the Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches in Geneva. Originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina and, as of recent, based in Novi Sad, Serbia, she is currently an independent consultant affiliated with the ERRC, as well as a number of local and international human rights and humanitarian organisations.

Nira Yuval-Davis (UK): Borders, Boundaries and the Gendered Politics of Belonging
Nira Yuval-Davis is one of Europe’s leading theoreticians on the related issues of nationalism, racism, gender, and citizenship. One of her main questions concerning the New Europe and, especially, the enlargement process is: ‘What will be the fate … of those social groupings that at present have secondary access to state powers, such as ethnic minorities and women? There is a real danger that, while some of Europe’s inhabitants would enjoy higher degrees of freedom and mobility, others would be doubly discriminated against.’ Her work seeks to contribute to the development of an adequate theory and politics of citizenship for a multi-ethnic, gender-equal and civil society.
Yuval-Davis is a professor of gender and ethnic studies at the University of Greenwich, London, and president of the Research Committee 05 (on Race, Ethnic and Minority Relations) of the International Sociological Association. She has also been a founding member of the London-based groups Women Against Fundamentalisms and Women in Black. She has written extensively on the theoretical and empirical aspects of women, nationalism, racism, fundamentalism, and citizenship in Britain, Europe, Israel and other settler societies. Among other things, she co-wrote and co-edited Women, Citizenship & Difference (Zed Books, 1999), Citizenship: Pushing the Boundaries, a special issue of The Feminist Review (1997), Cross Fires: Nationalism, Racism and Gender in Europe (Pluto, 1995), The Gulf War and the New World Order (Zed Books, 1992); and Racialized Boundaries (Routledge, 1992); and co-edited Woman – Nation – State (Macmillan, 1989). One of her most popular publications, Gender and Nation (Sage, 1997), has been translated into six languages.

Avtar Brah (UK): Reconfiguring Europe: The Question of Gender, Culture and Identity
The question of culture and identity is always at the heart of global economic and political processes. It assumes even greater urgency since the events of September 11. Avtar Brah’s contribution will explore how processes of culture and identity are always gendered, how women figure in contemporary discourses of the 'civilised world', and what role we, as women can play in rethinking the issues involved and work towards a brighter future for us all.
Avtar Brah is a Reader in Sociology at Birkbeck College. Her research covers areas such as feminist thought, diaspora studies, gendered labour markets, and globalisation. She has just returned from Cornell University where she was a Visiting Fellow of the Society for the Humanities. Publications include 'Cartigraphies of Diaspora, Contesting identities'; three co-edited collections: Global Futures -- Migration, Environment and Globalization; Thinking Identities -- Ethnicity, Racism and Culture; and, Hybridity and its Diacontents -- Politics, Science culture. She is a member of the Feminist Review Collective.

Moderator: Milica G. Antić (Slovenia)
Milica G. Antic is assistant professor of sociology at the Ljubljana University, visiting professor at the Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis in Ljubljana and at the Central European University in Budapest, and senior research fellow at the Peace Institute in Ljubljana. Among her publications are Slovene Political Parties and Their Influence on the Electoral Prospects of Women (1999), Women in Politics in Slovenia’s new democracy; Why so few? (2001), Women-Politics-Equality; Prospects for Gender Equality Politics in Central and Eastern Europe (with Vlasta Jalušic, 2001).

14.00: opening statement
14.15: Saskia Sassen: European Immigration Policies — Is This the Way to Go?
15.30: Rutvica Andrijasevic: The Difference Borders Make: Sex-Trafficking of ‘Eastern’ European Women in Italy
16.15: Tatjana Peric: At The Doors of Fortress Europe: The Case of the Roma
17.15: Nira Yuval-Davis: Borders, Boundaries and the Gendered Politics of Belonging
18.00: Avtar Brah: Reconfiguring Europe: The Question of Gender, Culture and Identity

Organised by: Mirovni Inštitut / Peace Institute & Mesto žensk / City of Women
in co-operation with: Cankarjev dom; Cultural Link Program (OSI-Budapest), SCCA-Ljubljana, Zavod za sodobne umetnosti / Center for Contemporary Arts




Date and time of event: 
Oct 13th 14:00
Place of event: 
Cankarjev dom – E3