Crossings: Non-Privileged Migration and Mobility Control in the Age of Global Empires (c. 1850-1914)

Crossings: Non-Privileged Migration and Mobility Control in the Age of Global Empires (c. 1850-1914)

German Historical Institute London
United Kingdom
Takes place
In Attendance
From - Until
25.04.2024 - 26.04.2024
Klara Ida Pfetzing, Historisches Seminar, Universität Münster

Convenors: Felix Brahm (University of Münster), Christina von Hodenberg (GHIL), Eve Rosenhaft (University of Liverpool)
AHRC-DFG-Project “Romani Migration Between Germany and Britain (1880s-1914)”

Crossings: Non-Privileged Migration and Mobility Control in the Age of Global Empires (c. 1850-1914)

The time period between 1850 and 1914 is often referred to as the age of mass migration, with more than 30 million Europeans immigrating to the United States alone. However, as previous scholarship has shown, this was by no means an age of free movement. While overseas shipping routes expanded and prices in passenger transport fell, the period also saw increasing state interventions and the establishing of migration regimes that distinguished between “desirable” and “undesirable” immigrant groups. Although non-elite in social composition, the mass migration of the time was overwhelmingly a privileged “white” migration in the age of global empires.

This is clear when we focus on groups whose transnational mobility was restricted or who were threatened with deportation. But neither state intervention nor societal hostility completely prevented groups labelled as “undesirable” from migrating – in flight from persecution and conflict or in search of opportunities to live and earn in another country. While adopting strategies of survival in the host countries, these groups of “undesired” immigrants often faced huge public responses, followed by new legislation and deportations, resulting in subsequent odysseys. This can be seen, for example, in colonial migration to Europe or in the Romani migration to the UK. Other groups remained under the radar, or only came into focus later, such as the Cape Verdean immigrants to the US.

This conference brings together research on non-privileged migration from the 1850s to the First World War. It is co-financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and the German Historical Institute London.


Thursday, April 25

14:00 Welcome and Introduction

14:30-16:00 Panel 1: Persecution and Transnational Mobility
Chair: Michael Schaich (GHIL)

Anna Ronell (Boston): Underprivileged and Undesirable: Russian Jews on a Transnational Journey

Simon Constantine (Wolverhampton): The Tinsmiths of Trencsén. The Expulsion of a ‘Burdensome’ Migrant group in Germany (1850-1914)

16:00-16:30 Coffee Break

16:30-18:00 Panel 2: Mobility Control and the Construction of the “Undesirable” Migrant
Chair: Eve Rosenhaft (Liverpool)

Adèle Sutre (Paris): “Undesirable Gypsies”: The Construction of a Category of Undesirables within the British Empire (1880s-1900s)

David Hamann (Berlin): The ‘Brody Crisis’ of 1881/82. Organized Jewish Transit Through Galicia and the German Empire and Its Connections to the Early Jewish Fight Against Antisemitism

Friday, April 26

9:30-11:00 Panel 3: Colonial Migration Regimes 1
Chair: Felix Brahm (Münster)

Bastiaan Nugteren (Utrecht): Dumping ‘Destitute’ Migrants? Border Formation, Transimperial Tensions, and the Regulation of Chinese Labor Migration in Dutch and British Colonial Southeast Asia, 1870-1914

Mona Rudolph (Kiel): “Sad Figures”? Non-Privileged Migrants, Racism, Measures by Colonial Officials and Cross-Border Collaborations in German South-West Africa, 1905-1914

11:00-11:30 Coffee Break

11:30-13:00 Panel 4: Colonial Migration Regimes 2
Chair: Indra Sengupta (GHIL)

Malika Zehni (London): Empire’s Edges: Crossing Paper Borders between Central and South Asia, ca. 1865-1915

Shaul Marmari (Leipzig): Sephardim and Asiatics: Jewish-Baghdadi Immigrants in British India

13:00-14:00 Lunch Break

14:00-15:30 Panel 5: Australia
Chair: Markus Mößlang (GHIL)

Houda Al-Kateb (Bristol): The Parish of Saint John, Hampstead, and the Non-Privileged Poor’s Migration Patterns to Australia

Louise Thatcher (Potsdam): Clandestine Mobility and White Australia, 1901-1914

15:30-16:00 Coffee Break

16:00-17:30 Panel 6: Migrant Agency and Protest
Chair: tba

Magdalene Klassen (Baltimore): Alleged French Canadians: Commercial Sex, Travel Narratives, and Deportation at the British Border, 1905-1914

Agnes Gehbald (Bern): Camping in Front of the Immigrants’ Hotel: Seasonal Migration, Strike Action, and Failure in Transatlantic Migration Policy

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