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Workshop Post-Economic Crisis Migration and the European ‘Periphery’

Friday 18 December 2015
Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Conference Room (Room 2.60a)

The purpose of this workshop is to examine migration patterns at the outer limits of Europe since the international financial crisis struck in 2008.

Those who are interested in participating in the workshop can contact dr. Irial Glynn in advance as places are limited.

Periphery and core

The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘periphery’ as ‘the outer limits or edge of an area’ and ‘core’ as ‘the central part of something’. Wallerstein (1974), in his world systems analysis, introduced economic as well as geographical indicators to explain the core-periphery distinction. In ‘core’ zones, high-profit, high-technology and high-wage diversified production dominated whereas ‘peripheral’ zones were characterized by the low-profit, low-technology, low-wage and less diversified production. Semi-peripheral zones, including the ‘southern tier of Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece’, ‘most of eastern Europe’, ‘parts of the northern tier’ and Turkey (Wallerstein 1979), fell somewhere in between as they could act as the periphery for core zones and as the core for peripheral zones.

In such a world system, the core appropriates resources such as low-cost labour from the periphery and semi-periphery. Post-war emigration trends appeared to support Wallerstein’s theory and the systems approach to rural-urban movement put forward by Mabogunje (1970). Much of the movement within Europe, facilitated by bilateral deals between sender and receiver states, involved people departing rural semi-peripheral towns and villages in southern Europe for industrialised towns and cities in core north-western European countries before later returning home if circumstances allowed.

Following the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008 and subsequent austerity, it initially appeared that similar types of movements had begun to reoccur from southern to northern Europe because of widely diverging unemployment rates. This time, the movement was facilitated by EU citizenship and appeared to involve more skilled citizens than previously. Yet, it has become increasingly apparent in recent years that citizens from southern Europe have not departed in sizeable numbers, especially when contrasted with their counterparts from Eastern Europe, who continue to move to Western Europe on a much greater scale (Recchi 2014). Southern European states, most notably Turkey, Greece and Italy, have instead become countries of transit and settlement for large numbers of refugees and migrants from further afield.

Image taken from Diercke International Atlas, Braunschweig: Westermann Schulbuch, 2010, p. 52.

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