Birmingham Salon

Home: Migration, Rootedness, Privacy

Takes place on Saturday 12th October 2019.

11.00 am - 5.00 pm
Upstairs, Old Joint Stock, 4 Temple Row West, Birmingham B2 5NY

Admission fee is £10.

Please join us for a day of debate and reflection looking at the effects of migration within Europe, what rootedness and belonging look and feel like, and on how we understand the boundary between private and public life.

Migration and depopulation in 21st century Europe
11.15 am - 12.45 pm

Dr Vanessa Pupavac, lecturer in International Relations - University of Nottingham
Dr Ceren Ozgen, Dept of Economics Marie-Sklodowska Curie Fellow - University of Birmingham

Chair: Dr Helene Guldberg

What causes migration in 21st century Europe and how does it affect people in countries where large numbers have moved elsewhere? 

Within the EU, countries like Croatia, bordering the Schengen area are tasked with maintaining the EU’s border to keep out non EU migrants, while at the same time seeing their own population dwindling.Eastern and southern EU countries are often characterised as self-defeating in their attitude to inward migration themselves. However, they are supposed to help protect the wealthier EU nations from poorer and lower skilled migrants. 

Part of the debate over the Northern Irish border has been driven on the EU side by the same concerns over inward migration into the EU. Ireland has also experienced recent years of net migration, losing its young and degree educated population. Eastern European immigrants have come to Ireland, but although some settle, they also circulate between Germany, UK, and Ireland.

In Italy it is now illegal to rescue migrants attempting to enter the country via the Mediterranean. But this attitude exists alongside appeals from villages with tiny populations for people to come and live there. 

How does free movement within the EU affect attitudes to migration and to citizenship? Should countries actively seek to reduce migration or should they accept it as a fact of the modern, globalised world? If they accept it, should they encourage immigration from elsewhere, and how? Birmingham has just seen the largest criminal trial of exploiters of Polish migrants, so does acceptance also mean the acceptance of exploitation of their citizens at the hands of the migration industries elsewhere? 

If they don’t accept it, what is needed to hold on to those attracted by opportunities abroad? And who should have the final say over this, when migration is an issue connecting so many countries and populations together?

Reading material

Eastern Europe's emigration crisis

The crime of aiding the wrong kind of human

Migration myths vs economic facts

EU migration policy

Lunch 12.45 - 1.30

Rootedness - more than belonging?
1.30 pm - 3.00 pm

Tereza Buskova - UK based Czech artist tbc
Niall Crowley - writer
Dr Greg Scorzo - philosopher, public intellectual, publisher and editor of Culture on the Offensive

Chair: Rosie Cuckston

"It isn't where you're from, it's where you're going that counts." Attributed to Ella Fitzgerald

In the latter part of the 20th century, the idea of rootedness seemed old fashioned, undynamic, and restrictive.  "A community is something you grow up in and then get the hell out of," said Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead. It was a time to throw off restrictions, whether of race, class, or religion, to which rootedness seemed inexorably linked. More recently the critic, writer, and TV presenter Jonathan Meades asserted that "roots are for vegetables".  

But one explanation advanced for the result of the 2016 EU referendum is that the embrace of the values of liberal cosmopolitanism has resulted in a backlash.  The importance of rootedness and belonging to people's lives and to human flourishing has been underestimated. Superficial cosmopolitanism is labelled an indulgence of the flighty well off, although that might appear a troubling and excluding explanation to those newly arrived in the UK from other countries, hoping to establish a life for themselves and their families.  

Giles Fraser, the Radio 4 vicar and Guardian columnist, founded and briefly ran a party called Home, focussed not only on pro-Brexit taking back control nationally, but also linked to the housing crisis and people being literally unable to afford a home. There is also renewed interest in the philosopher and writer Simone Weil who believed that a sense of rootedness was of huge importance in facing up to the human condition.

Who are the rootless and is there a community of the truly rooted to be found anywhere?This discussion will look what we mean when we talk about rootedness, and at its social, psychological, cultural, and political aspects.  

Reading material

Radical cure - Hannah Arendt and Simon Weil on the need for roots

Why I left my liberal London tribe

Clinging to our roots
Whose home is it anyway?
3.15 pm - 4.45 pm

Speaker tbc
Chair: Chrissie Daz

"The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the force of the Crown. It may be frail, its roof may shake, the wind may blow through it. The rain may enter. The storms may enter. But the king of England may not enter. All his forces dare not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement." – Pitt the Elder

The foundational principle of liberal democracies, that a strict line be maintained between the private and the public, largely revolves around the sanctity of the home. But is it that straight forward?  John Locke applied the principle of domestic privacy as a defence of private property in general, even when such property is more social than personal in character.  And in the nineteenth century it was argued that only householders could be trusted with the vote.

Feminists have argued that the sacred character of a man’s home causes women’s oppression. But the translation of domestic violence as an issue into the mantra that the ‘personal is political’ has been used to attack privacy in many ways.  The Labour Government’s ‘Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act’ of 2004, for instance, gave to the authorities the power to enter your home in connection with unpaid fines.

From the right to smoke in prison cells and psychiatric wards to the erosion of tenant’s rights, the autonomy of the home has been eroding for some time. But when cohabiting adults and children are involved, how should we decide how much state interference is acceptable? How free should we be to interfere in the private affairs of our neighbours? And what are the implications when it is not our neighbours or the authorities but we ourselves who freely expose our domestic shenanigans to the likes of Facebook, YouTube and Alexa?