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Call for Papers Conference: The "Others" amongst "Us"

The conference 'The "Others" amongst "Us": Thoughts on Western Societies, Otherness, and the Law' will take place on Friday 8 December and Saturday 9 December 2017 at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands.

Background and Ambition

In a time of crisis, social divides become particularly visible. They affect notably minorities including immigrants. Looking at the area of immigration, the conference will focus on the Law and how it relates to social divides. Underlying is the notion that minorities at large and immigrants in particular tend to be conceived of as ‘others’ in society, which naturally raises questions on the construction and effect of ‘otherness’ in ‘our’ Western societies. There are many ways how ‘otherness’ could be approached. Likewise, there are as many ways as one could describe the society which characterizes the ‘other’. The conference and this call for papers seeks to bring together many perspectives, approaches, and ideas on ‘otherness’ in the context of migration. The ambition is to find commonalities and differences in  the construction of 'otherness' in different political settings. While the conference will focus on otherness and the law, it is by no means open only to legal scholars. Ideally, the conference will be multidisciplinary and allow for ample discussion of the issues at hand across the boundaries of scientific disciplines, such as history, social and political sciences, anthropology, social geography, or law. 

Guiding questions

The conference seeks to address the following set of general guiding questions:

  • Where does the notion of the migrant as ‘the other’ cross our work as scholars of migration? What situation, application or interpretation of the law, administrative or social practices and traditions lead to the ‘othering’ of persons, and what are the consequences thereof? 
  • When looking closer, questions that naturally follow are: Who is 'the other'? How is 'the other' defined, and why is 'the other' defined that way? Another set of questions approaches the dichotomy of 'the other' vis-à-vis 'us' and departs from the very definition of 'otherness': Who defines 'the other'? If 'we' define 'the other' who are 'we' and how do 'we' define ourselves? Where do 'we' see the differences with 'the other' and how do ‘we’ express these differences in regulation and its application?
  • Does ‘othering’ go hand in hand with (social) exclusion or is exclusion merely one possible outcome of ‘othering’? What are the mechanisms how of law and society interact here? How can exclusion be prevented and inclusion be fostered?
  • Finally, thoughts on 'otherness' and immigration regulation should not shy away from normative questions, such as whether it is legitimate to approach, define, construct 'otherness' the way it is done, and what the (legal, procedural) consequences of such differentiation would be. The question, what the role of Law is and ought to be can also not be avoided, especially in sketching avenues to overcome ‘otherness’ or to facilitate inclusion.

Starting point for inquiries

The following issues could be the starting point for inquiries:

  • Otherness and the ‘integration’ of immigrants, otherness expressed in integration programs: who has to fulfill integration conditions, who is regarded to be and not to be in need of integration conditions? What is the content of integration programs?
  • Otherness and family life: Which family members are admitted as family migrants? What conditions apply for different groups of family migrants?
  • Otherness and non-discrimination: Which groups are protected in what kind of situations and which groups and situations are (deliberately) not protected?
  • Different levels of ‘legal otherness’ in the EU from third-country nationals to EU Citizens: Is there a hierarchy of immigrants and how does it look like? How does this hierarchy manifest itself in law and practice? Which characterizations determine on which level a migrant is in the hierarchy?
  • The definition of ‘us’ in Europe in the year 2017: Who is included in the group “us” in the legal sense in the EU? Are these the citizens of the Member States (who have not moved), EU Citizen that have moved to another Member State, or even the third-country national who falls within the scope of EU Law?
  • The (European) Reaction(s) to  the Refugee Crises of 2015: Were certain asylum seekers more different than others? What categories were applied to differentiate between asylum seekers? What changes occurred in legislation and administrative practice and what triggered the changes? Were legal boundaries erected in Europe in addition to physical boundaries and how did they work?
  • BREXIT: Will EU Nationals in Britain or UK nationals in Europe become ‘the other’? Was the status of EU Citizens, which conflicted the view that they did not belong to society in the UK, the driving factor leading to BREXIT? What were the assumed social hierarchies in the British debate, how did they relate to legal reality, and how do they influence the discussion today?


Please contact for more information:
Dr. Moritz Jesse, Associate Professor of European Law, Europa Institute, Law Faculty, University of Leiden (m.jesse@law.leidenuniv.nl).

Publication plans

The conference is the part of the research project ‘The "Others" Amongst "Us": Western Societies, Otherness, and the Law’, carried out by Moritz Jesse and funded by the Dutch Scientific Organization (NWO). Ideally, this conference will lead to an edited volume or special issue on the phenomenon of 'otherness' and the law.


This call is open for all scholars, young and old, from all disciplines studying international migration.

Deadline for submission of proposals is Monday, 2 October noon (Leiden local time). Please send an abstract of your paper (500 words long) and a CV to m.jesse@law.leidenuniv.nl . The selection of papers will take place within 10 days after the deadline has passed.

Participation in the conference is free of charge, meals during the conference will be provided for participants.

Written contributions should be around 5000-6000 words long. The written papers are due Thursday 30 November 2017 to give participants and discussants a chance to read them before the conference.

Leiden Law School

Visiting Leiden

Leiden is a beautiful medium size Dutch city. It can be reached easily by air and train. The Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport is a mere 15min direct train ride away. The international train stations Amsterdam Centraal and Rotterdam Centraal are less than 30min direct train rides away. Leiden has plenty of picturesque canals and old city quarters with inviting restaurants, bars, and cafes. To cut a long story short, it would be worth a visit even without the conference taking place.

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