Irene Peano, PhD
Project: Gender in Global Care-Commodity Chains: A Research on the Supply End and Reproduction of Romanian Farm-Labour Migration in Italy
Period: December 1st, 2016 – February 28th, 2017
Short presentation: While the gender distribution of the registered Romanian population in Italy (the most numerous migrant community in the country by far) sees the presence of a majority of women, in agriculture such trend appears to be reversed. Given the high percentage of totally irregular labour in this sector and the fact that, based on my own experience as well as on other sources, Romanian women do migrate in large numbers to be employed in the agricultural sector in Italy, these data can be interpreted to mean that a higher percentage of women are doomed to total irregularity compared to men, signalling the higher precarity reserved to women in this as in most employment sectors, regardless of nationality.
However, the overwhelming presence of European (and especially Romanian) workers in the agro-industrial sector and their extreme living and working conditions are eclipsed by what different scholars have dubbed as the ‘border spectacle’, which privileges the portrayal of exploited farm labour in relation to migration from outside the EU, in paternalistic and victimising tones. Apart from their lack of exotic appeal, Eastern European farm workers are also less visible due to the mode of organisation of their labour migration, normally in the hands of intermediaries who in many cases recruit them in their country of origin and manage their entire migration experience. Indeed, as far as Romanians and other EU citizens are concerned, liberalisation of their movement and right to work across the EU has also made for their higher seasonality. Seasonal farm labourers might be recruited through kinship networks, by acquaintances, through word of mouth or announces in newspapers or on the internet. Intermediaries often take care of transport, accommodation and recruitment, supervising not only work on the farms but every aspect of migrant workers’ existence. Preliminary research I carried out in Romania in March 2016, and particularly in the counties of Maramureş and Sibiu, confirms the extent to which workers are kept in a state of fear and blackmail. Afraid of the consequences of spelling out the conditions of their recruitment and employment, in most cases they refused to speak about them to a stranger. At the same time, with the help of local field assistants, I was able to begin understanding the process of recruitment, for example through internet announces.
Tamara Cărăuș, PhD
Project: Migrant Cosmopolitanism
Period: October 1st, 2016 – July 31, 2017
Short presentation: The phenomenon of migration poses some crucial problems for political
theory in particular and social sciences in general. Both the economic migrant (guest
workers, irregular migrants) for whom migration is a choice and an option, and the refugee, whose mobility is seen as an action forced by persecutions, wars or natural disasters (and whom states are at least morally obliged to admit to their territory) increase the mass of noncitizens in the countries of destination (and in the world in general), that is, the mass of persons who do not have political agency and rights. This is difficult to reconcile with political theories of equality and liberty granted by state, thus, confronted with the problems of migrants and refuges, the current state-based way of doing and thinking politics shows its structural and conceptual limits. The challenge is then to conceive a cosmopolitan political theory and to imagine a cosmopolitics as a way of doing politics in a global world that would include both migrants and non-migrants.
The existing theories of cosmopolitanism do not resolve the structural political exclusion of migrants, but only alleviate it temporarily. For Kant, migrants, nomads, and other non-citizens are only allowed the right of visitation not residence, that is, temporary access to the territory of a state, so the Kantian right of cosmopolitan hospitality protects migrants and refugees but only through their perpetual displacement. Contemporary liberal and republican cosmopolitanism and the international institutions advanced by this approach do not eliminate the structural exclusion of immigrants, for example, the United Nations’ conventional framework defines the right to leave a territory as a human right, but not the right to enter a territory. The normative approach called ‘open borders’ diminishes its cosmopolitan potential because it is focused mainly on ‘receiving countries’, who have to open the borders, and not on the sending countries which remain more vulnerable (the so called ‘brain drain’ problem). As well, the ‘open border’ approach is formulated within the paradigm of the nation-state, examining in details when and how the state can admit, exclude, select and reject the immigrants, thus failing to map the way the nation-state generates a structural exclusion, incompatible with a cosmopolitan view of migration.
A more practical approach with a cosmopolitan intent – that of the transnational NGOs and other institutions providing humanitarian support – although efficient for short term do not solve the problem posed by migration for political theory. This humanitarian approach depoliticizes migrants and refugees by providing food and shelter (mainly in refugee camps), implying the danger of transforming the migrant into a mere human body to be managed in a camp, in this way confirming Hannah Arendt’s insights on the perplexities of human rights for refugees and stateless people. But, as Arendt suggests in “We refugees,” the condition of refugees and persons without a country has to be taken as a new paradigm for politics’ the refugees being the ‘avant-garde of their peoples.’
Thus, the main aim of this project is to examine if and how refugees and immigrants can be the avant-garde of cosmopolitanism, that is, how could migrants and refugees contribute to a cosmopolitan restructuring of the ways of understanding and doing politics? What are the migrant practices and actions with a cosmopolitan potential? Can we imagine a cosmopolitics that will include both migrants and non-migrants as a new way of doing politics in a global world? Can we conceive political participation independent of locality that would make it possible for migrant/mobile people to participate to a global and cosmopolitan governance? Can migrants and refugees be seen as renouncing the temptations of the territorial form of community and politics? Etc.
Stephen J. Cutler, PhD (Professor of Sociology Emeritus and Emeritus Bishop Robert F. Joyce Distinguished University Professor of Gerontology, University of Vermont)
Project: Promoting Interests and Competence in Ageing Research Via a Research Training Workshop
Period: February 1st, 2017 to May 31st, 2017
Short presentation: Despite dramatic increases in the numbers of older persons in Romania, the study of ageing is in its infancy among Romanian researchers. Just as institutions of higher education in Romania need to augment their curricular offerings in the area of ageing, so too must efforts be directed at identifying potential research investigators who are interested in and competent to turn their substantive attention to the fascinating basic and applied questions surrounding this area.
The aim of the proposed project is to do just that: to identify a group of academicians (and others) with a potential interest in studying aging; to provide them with knowledge about the challenging conceptual and methodological issues that are endemic to the study of aging; to provide them with information about sources of public domain data that can be used to study ageing; and, through a series of guided workshop meetings, to assist them with the development of research papers that can be submitted for publication. In short, the most general objective of the proposed research is to augment the research capacity of Romanian colleagues and to do so in a substantive area that has been relatively neglected up to now, but which is of the utmost basic, applied, and policy significance for Romania.
Paul Dragoș Aligica, PhD
Project: David Mitrany
Period: June 26th – July, 10th
Short presentation: David Mitrany, probably the most influential social scientist of Romanian origin, had important contributions in four areas: International relations theory, political economy, history and social theory. Mitrany is known today mostly as an IR theorist, one of the founding fathers of the field. He is considered one of the major theorist and promoters of the European integration project through his functionalist theory of integration and peace.
In the current international and European context, when the idea of integration and the principles of international governance and social order are challenged profoundly, revisiting functionalist ideas –the backbone of the current EU order- becomes a mandatory intellectual task. Reassessing and reconstructing “functionalism” leads sooner or later to an effort to revisit the work of its originator, David Mitrany.
Far from being a neglected author at the time, Mitrany was a preeminent figure. Despite the recognition he received during those times and the recognition he receives today as being one of the key theorists inspiring the European integration project, his theoretical and scholarly legacy has been neglected. His ideas inspired an entire development in International Relation Theory (called “neoliberalism” or “functionalist liberalism” recognized as such by major scholars like Keohane and Nye) however he left posterity no direct disciples or institutionalized school of thought.
The initiative/project outlined in this statement of intent will aim at bolstering the general (public and academic) understanding of his contributions and their significance, while at the same time making his intellectual tradition an intellectually branding element of ICUB (on the social sciences side) and a vehicle for the Romanian voices in contemporary debates on European Integration, International Relation and Security Studies.
More information here.