Travelling Policies. Convergence of Dutch and Flemish immigration and integration policies and practices put into a European comparative perspective 1945-2005

On the 13th of June 2014, the Dutch-Flemish academic network Centre for the History of Migrants (CGM) in cooperation with Museum aan de Stroom (MAS), will organize a one day workshop on migration and integration policies. The title of the workshop is: ‘Travelling Policies. Convergence of Dutch and Flemish immigration and integration policies and practices put into a European comparative perspective 1945-2005’.


Migrants, per definition, travel between countries, but they also travel between categories of migrants: colonial, labour, family, or refugee migrants. Authoritative institutions, states above all, use formalised categorisations. States have the authority to decide who is who, and differentiate rights accordingly. Policy makers, as a rule, seek to interpret categories of migrants narrowly, and to exclude people who do not fit their definitions, while support groups tend to stretch categories and create sympathy for those who seemed to be inhumanly harmed by the government’s rigour. Categorisation is not static but is frequently presented as such because that increases governmentability.

Shift of discourses
Migrants travel between categories, and policies and practices are transferred between countries, and between (support) organisations. Concepts, discourses, strategies, theories and debates travel across time, between categories of migrants, across gender boundaries and between countries. Discourses are reproduced and copied between categories of migrants, and between countries. Discourses shift from anti-colonial and Civil Rights movements, to family rights, refugee rights, and gay rights movements. Lawmakers, policymakers, politicians, journalists, and lobbyists are influenced by what occurs in other countries, and different settings. Since policy makers, as a rule, look at neighbouring countries in order to synchronise polities and prevent migrants from ‘shopping’ for rights, they also study the arguments and strategies used elsewhere. They adapt and adopt these when useful or possible, while immigrant support organisations do the same.

In this workshop we want to move away for groupism and a narrow national focus. We analyse how policies and practices travel, especially between The Netherlands and Belgium, as neighbouring countries with more or less similar immigration histories. We focus on the period since 1945. At our workshop we also look at transferrals at a more theoretical level, and between other countries.

The last session of our workshop is about the wealth of sources that has been generated by authorities, organisations and individual migrants. Part of this material has found its way into archives, but there are also still important lacunae. In this session we address the question how archives and heritage institutions can attract more material, and create a balanced collection, and how archives and heritage institutions can be partners in projects on migration.

Registration and more information: r [dot] c [dot] de [dot] jongathum [dot] leidenuniv [dot] nl

MondriaanstichtingVSB-fondsSNS ReaalPrins Bernard CultuurfondsOC&WVROM