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Memory and Migration in Europe

For detailed description of the activities of the project, please visit the following page.

Contrary to other immigration societies such as the United States, Canada or Australia, migration has not been a core element of European narratives or shared identity. Current debates over asylum provide an accurate illustration of this lack of memory of past migration.

The European 20th century has been shaped by migrations and exiles of Europeans in search of asylum: from Spanish fleeing the civil war, to the 1992 Balkan refugees. There have been the Hungarian refugees of 1956 and the Greek “exchange of populations” of the 1920s. The aftermath of the War saw what has been labeled in Germany the “flight and expulsion” of German populations from Eastern European countries.

These movements of population have shaped the refugee protection regime enshrined in the Geneva Convention of 1951, and laid the foundation of a new political union in Europe.

A participatory project in 6 European cities

The Memory and migrations project aimed at structuring and promoting a debate on how Europeans perceive memories of migrations in 6 European cities: Amsterdam, Athens, Birmingham, Budapest, Lisbon and Paris. The project has involved several local stakeholders (NGOs, city representatives, citizens, migrants, refugees, academics...). It aimed at promoting dialogue, cooperation and joint project at the European scale, through workshops, conferences and meetings with civil society.


  • Athens, 18 November 2015: “Greek refugees from the 1920s and the refugee crisis in 2015” – Local meeting. This meeting brought together NGOs and refugees. The discussion was launched by a presentation of Giorgos Kritikos, historian at the Harokopeio University of Athens.


  • Paris, 25 November 2015: “Europe and refugees in 2015: a crisis of memory?” – Public conference. Could the “refugee crisis” be associated with the lack of memory of Europeans when it comes to their own history of migrations? In this respect, could today’s European migration memories constitute a tool to overcome obstacles to the reception of refugees? Conversely, can these memories constitute an obstacle when they promote narratives of a homogeneous and exclusive national identity?


  • Paris, 26 November 2015: “Memory of asylum: a tool for refugee assisting NGOs?” – Closed seminar. To what extent can memory of migration – and more specifically of asylum – become a core element of refugees’ assisting NGOs’ activities? How can these organizations make memory a major dimension in their advocacy and refugees’ rights promotion agenda?


  • Amsterdam, 25 April 2016: “Memory of migrations in European cities” – Closed seminar. This meeting has gathered 18 participants from the six cities of the project. Among the panelists came researchers, city representatives, and several representatives of civil society.


  • Amsterdam, 25 April 2016: “Remembering migration past in European cities - another voice in the migration debate?” – Public conference. What are the memories of migrations used by inhabitants, city representatives, associations and academics? How do these impact the social, cultural and political perception of the feeling of belonging and the creation of an inclusive society? Do cities use this memory to take part in national debates over migration policies and identity issues?


  • Paris, 21 June 2016: “Memory and migration in Paris” – Local meeting. This meeting has gathered the City of Paris, the Network Memory and History in Île-de-France and the History and Archives Department of the French Office for Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA).


  • Paris, 23-24 June 2016: “Giving History its place in migration and refugee debates and research” – Academic workshop, Paris Institute of Advanced Studies. This two days workshop aimed at making a critical assessment of political uses of memory in current debates over immigration in Europe (Germany, France, Great-Britain, Hungary, Italy, and the Netherlands). Starting from the work of historians, political scientists and sociologists, the meeting has discussed ways to bring history at the heart of research on migration and asylum.


  • Budapest, 14 November 2016: “Migrations and refugees: giving history its place” – International conference. Following the academic workshop of June 2016, this conference dealt with means to do justice to history in public and scientific debates over migrations and asylum, drawing on a comparative approach from Great-Britain, France, Greece, Hungary and the Netherlands.


  • Budapest, 15 November 2016: “Using memory: when refugees make history” – International seminar. In the current context, a major issue when it comes to memories and migrations is to give a central dimension to the memories of refugees and migrants themselves. How can this be achieved? This seminar has brought together advocacy associations, NGOs working on the promotion of Human rights and refugees’ assistance, refugees, researchers as well as local and European political actors.

The final study “L’Europe et les réfugiés en 2015 : une crise de la mémoire?” can be found here.

Find here the Centre for Migration and Citizenship contribution in RAMSES 2017 “Les migrations face au défi identitaire en Europe – Entre mémoire et identité” by Christophe Bertossi and Jan Willem Duyvendak.


The Memory and migration project was coordinated by Christophe Bertossi, director of the Centre for Migration and Citizenship of the Ifri, and Matthieu Tardis, researcher at the Centre for Migration and Citizenship. The experts involved in the project were: Agnes Ambrus (UNHCR, Budapest), Kehinde Andrews (City University, Birmingham), Aline Angousture (Ofpra, Paris), Firoez Azarhoosh (Foundation BMP, Amsterdam), David Ban (Anthropolis project, Budapest), Maryline Baumard (Le Monde, Paris), Aniko Bakonyi (Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Budapest), Aniko Bernat (Tarki, Budapest), János Bibo (Hungarian Evangelical Fellowship, Budapest), Paolo Boccagni (University of Trento), Eva Bognar (Central European University, Budapest), Jeanne Bonnemay (Cabinet member of the Deputy Mayor for security, prevention, city politics, integration, City of Paris) Margardida Botelho (Foundation ComParte, Lisbon), Olivier Bouin (French Network of Institutes of Advanced Studies, Paris), Céline Cantat, (Central European University, Budapest), Yannick Coenders (University of Amsterdam), Georges Dertilis (EHESS, Paris), Tibor Dessewffy (ELTE University, Budapest), Isabelle Devaux (Service equality, integration and inclusion, City of Paris), Perrine Dommange (Service equality, integration and inclusion, City of Paris), Olsi Dudumi (International Organization for Migration, Budapest) , Jan Willem Duyvendak (University of Amsterdam), Miriam Ekuidoko (Ebony Association, Budapest), Jonathan Ellis (City of Sanctuary, London), Olivier Esteves (University of Lille), Laura Fakra (Network Memory-History in Île-de-France, Paris), Alice Fèvre (Greek Forum of Refugees, Athens), Nancy Foner (CUNY, New York), Barbara Forbes (City of Sanctuary, Birmingham), Christophe Harrison (France terre d’asile, Paris), Istvan Hegedus (Hungarian Europe Society, Budapest), Mubarak Hussein (Associacao Refugiados Portugal, Lisbon), Michael Ignatieff (Central European University, Budapest), Julia Ivan (Consultant, Budapest), Danièle Joly (FMSH, Paris), Manuela Judice (City Council, Lisbon), Dilek Karaağaçlı, (Fondation BMP, Amsterdam), Éva Judit Kovács (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest), Andras Kovats (Menedék, Budapest), Ismini Karydopoulou (Greek Forum of Refugees, Athens), György Kakuk (journalist, Budapest), Patrick Klugman (Deputy Mayor for International Relations and Francophonie, City of Paris), Maria Kovács (Central European University, Budapest), Giorgios Kritikos (University of Harokopion, Athens), Kazim Rooish (Greek Forum of Refugees, Athens), Catherine Lalumière (French Federation of Europe Houses, Paris), Marie de Looz-Corswarem (EACEA, Bruxelles), Timea Lovig (Menedék, Budapest), Malachi MacIntosh (Runnymede Trust, London), Manraj Mander (Ifri, Birmingham), Zsofia Miklos (DemNet Hongrie, Budapest), Andras Mink (Open Society Archives, Budapest), Alexandros Modiano (City Council, Athens), Rahmad Mohamedi (Greek Forum of Refugees, Athens), Balint Molnar (European Youth Centre, Budapest), Peter Molnar (Central European University, Budapest), Zsofia Nagy (ELTE University, Budapest), John Narayan (University of Warwick), Jan Niklas Engels (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Budapest), Wieteke Nieuwboer (City of Amsterdam), Alfreda Nneka Iyiegbu (Ebony Association, Budapest), Paul Mepschen (University of Leiden), Mohammed Ouaddane (Network Memory-History in Île-de-France, Paris), Catherine Perron (CERI/Sciences Po, Paris), Evelyne Ribert (EHESS/CNRS, Paris), Magali Robert (Service equality, integration and inclusion, City of Paris), Kazim Rooish (Greek Forum of Refugees, Athens), Philip Rudge (Consultant), Salome Schaerer (Migszol, Budapest), Hugo Seabra (Foundation Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon), Endre Sik (ELTE University, Budapest), Hélène Soupios-David (France terre d’asile, Paris), Martin Sqalenz Kalenga Sobola (Greek Forum of Refugees, Athens), Hans van Stee (Dutch Refugee Council, Amsterdam), Andras Szalay (Oltalom Charity Society, Budapest), Csaba Szilagyi (Open Society Archives, Budapest), Sharon Thompson (Councilor, Birmingham), Francesco Vacchiano (University of Lisbon), Hetty Vlug (Service for Education, Youth and Care of the city of Amsterdam), Khursheed Wadia (University of Warwick), Catherine Wihtol de Wenden (CERI/CNRS, Paris), Bénédicte Williams (French Institute of Budapest), Nemeth Zsolt (District of Zuglo-Budapest).

For more information regarding the Memory and migration project, please contact

The project is implemented in partnership with the University of Amsterdam, the University of Warwick, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the French Network of Institutes of Advanced Studies with the support of the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union.

This project was funded with the support of the European Union under the Programme "Europe for Citizens". 


logo_eacea_en.jpg, by matthieu_tardis