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IES Migrations Series (up to 2021)

Launched in AY 2017-2018, the IES Migrations Series conceptualizes the migration of not only people, but also images, words, ideas, technologies, objects, information, and food. 

Continuing into AY 2020-2021, the series aimed to unpack the historical and contemporary relevance of migration in writing global histories and understanding the present, as well as to put Europe in its global context. It critically acknowledges European countries’ role in the history of modernization and colonization of other countries within and outside Europe and disclosed the region’s character as an immigrant continent and diaspora of various peoples.

Cornell made a commitment to the study of migrations by identifying it as a research priority in AY 2019-2020. Find out more about Migrations: A Global Grand Challenge and the Einaudi Center's contributions: Funding faculty research and establishing an undergraduate Migrations Studies minor are two vital components. 

Watch videos of the IES Migrations Series events:

EU to Bosnia: Refuge, Reparations, and Global Apartheid April 19, 2021

EU to Bosnia Poster

The foreclosure of asylum in the European Union and the militarization of the EU borders have resulted in EU pushbacks of refugees and migrants from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia to European countries that do not belong to the EU, such as Bosnia. This panel critically examines the foreclosure of asylum at the EU/Bosnia border as a case study of the global apartheid regime that produces humanitarian crises while denying refugees mobility and safety. What might accountability for the damages wrought by global apartheid look like? And what kinds of futures can we imagine and fight for?


Nidžara Ahmetašević | Independent Scholar, Journalist, Activist and Author
Catherine L. Besteman | Colby College
Azra Hromadžić | Syracuse University

Moderated by Saida Hodžić | Cornell University 

This panel was sponsored by the Migrations Forum and co-sponsored by the American Studies Program, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Near Eastern Studies, the Society for the Humanities, and the South Asia Program.

North to South: Repair and Reparations for Climate Refugees? April 2, 2021

Climate Refugees Poster

The displacement of populations due to climate change forecasts an unprecedented phenomenon in human history. Neither international law nor nations are prepared to face up to this challenge in a way that would secure refugee’s human rights or their appropriate resettlement. This panel brings together different academic disciplines to bear on the question of rehabilitation and resettlement as a form of reparation to current and future climate refugees. How is it possible to think of restitutions to climate refugees by acknowledging the accountability of the first industrializing countries of the Global North in imposing this displacement on the peoples of the Global South? The intention is to start a conversation with scholars working in the areas of migration, transitional justice, art, architecture, and environmental humanities on the possibility of a just response to the displacement of climate refugees.


  • Ashley Dawson | City University of New York
  • Anne Mc Clintock | Princeton University
  • Bronwyn Leebaw | University of California, Riverside
  • Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi | Barnard College, Columbia University
  • Billy Fleming | University of Pennsylvania

Moderated by Esra Akcan | Cornell University

USSR to Post-Soviet Russia: Reparations or Repression for Stalin’s Victims? March 29, 2021

USSR to Post-Soviet Russia Event Poster

This panel will explore proposals in the early post-Soviet period to honor the memory of, and perhaps provide reparations to, the victims of Stalinist repression. They were replaced by official government efforts to rehabilitate Stalin’s reputation and even rewrite the history of World War II. Organizations such as Memorial, formed to maintain the memory of Stalin’s crimes, have been declared “foreign agents” and obliged to curb their activities. This event brings together an interdisciplinary panel of experts to discuss the initiatives and missed opportunities in post-Soviet reparations.


  • Nikolay Epplee | Independent Researcher
  • Ivan Kurilla | European University at St. Petersburg
  • Egle Rindzevičiūtė | Kingston University London
  • Nina Tumarkin |Wellesley College

Moderated by Matthew Evangelista | Cornell University

Germany to Germany: New Perspectives on Post-War, Post-Unification and Post-Colonial Reparations March 15, 2021

Germany to Germany Poster

 This panel will bring together scholars who provide new perspectives on the material and moral reparations of the postcolonial, post-Nazi and post-communist eras in Germany, as well as the significance of these restitutions in serving as models for transitional justice and international law. It will explore both material and moral reparations, such as return and restitution of property that had been confiscated, monetary payments as compensation, and educational steps to take accountability for the past. The panel will not only acknowledge these reparations to ex-citizens and refugees, but also question the limits of established formulas and the lack or inequality of restitutions throughout the history of today’s Germany.


  • Ruti Teitel | New York Law School
  • Rebecca Boehling | U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, University of Maryland
  • Nicholas Mulder | Cornell University
  • Tiffany Florvil | The University of New Mexico

Moderated by Esra Akcan | Cornell University

Belgium to Congo: Colonialism Reparation and Truth & Reconciliation Commissions February 24, 2021

Belgium to Congo Event Poster

This panel explores the theme of reparations and restitutions to bring justice to the residual inequalities caused by slavery and colonization. It focuses on the recent developments to institute a sort of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Belgium, which was approved in Summer 2020 in the form of a parliamentary Special Commission to scrutinize the country’s colonial past. The multidisciplinary panel puts into conversation scholars who will comment on the history of Belgium colonization in Congo, on the recent movements in conjunction with Black Lives Matter including the toppling of the King Leopard II Monument that sparked the demand for accountability, and on the current debate around truth and reconciliation in Belgium, as well as its place in other transitional justice processes around the world.


  • Pablo de Greiff | New York University
  • Amah Edoh | Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Pedro Monaville | New York University Abu Dhabi
  • Liliane Umubyeyi | Avocats Sans Frontières

Moderated by Esra Akcan | Cornell University

Repatriation of Museum Objects October 19, 2020

Repatriation of Museum Objects Poster

This panel is organized to bring together museum curators and scholars to comment on the recent discussions on repatriation and restitution as a form of reparation to colonized and looted lands. While museums in Europe and North America have occasionally returned objects to their native communities or lands of arrival, the issue of repatriation gained an accelerated epistemological and ethical momentum at the end of 2018. What is the responsibility of museums to objects taken into their collections by violence or deceit during the colonial times or wars? What is the role of museum-object-repatriation in the recognition of colonial and military violence? What are the legal structures that prohibit or allow deaccession in the museums of different countries? Once the objects are parted from their communities and no longer serve their original sacred functions, where are they to be returned? What determines how far back museums consider repatriation claims legitimate and why? What is the future of “universal museums” around the world?"

  • Souleymane Bachir Diagne | Columbia University | New York
  • Jonathan Fine | Humboldt Forum | Berlin
  • Cécile Fromont | Yale University | New Haven

Moderated by Esra Akcan | Cornell University

Beirut Reconstructions October 7, 2020

Beirut Reconstructions Poster

This panel was organized to bring together architects and planners to comment on the ongoing reconstructions in Beirut after the deadly explosion of August 4, 2020, by contextualizing it in the city’s urban development and the relatively recent urban reconstruction of its center after the civil war. How, when, and by whom should the reconstruction projects be designed and implemented? What are lessons learned from the reconstruction of the city center after the civil war? With the looming danger of opportunistic gentrification, how might the reconstruction process alter the area’s use and the lives and livelihoods of its residents? How may it affect Beirut’s place in the world cultural heritage and global imagination? How can international organizations and academic institutions partner with local organizations for the redesign/rebuilding of the destroyed neighborhoods? How should the different affected neighborhoods be approached when it comes to redesign/rebuilding?

Elie Haddad | Lebanese American University
Mona Harb | American University of BeirutModerator:
Mostafa Minawi | Cornell University

Panel Questions:
Elie Boutros | Cornell Alumni
Dana Muhsen | Cornell Alumni

Hagia Sophia: Perspectives from Cultural Heritage September 19, 2020

Hagia Sophia Perspectives from Cultural Heritage Poster

This panel was organized to bring together scholars and analysts to comment on the recent conversion of the Hagia Sophia from a museum into a mosque from the perspective of architectural history in geopolitical context.What is the building’s significance for Byzantine, early and late Ottoman, Republican and contemporary Turkish architecture? How will the Hagia Sophia’s conversion into a mosque in 2020 impact its use, global and local public meaning, place in the city and nearby monuments, physical attributes, Byzantine mosaics, Christian and Muslim symbols, marble floor, and acoustics, among other things? What effects did the building’s recent conversion make in different areas of historical studies? Are there comparable examples elsewhere in the world?Speakers made 8-minute presentations in the rough chronological order of their historical field of expertise and comment on the contemporary decision from the perspectives of their own scholarly work and study area. After a discussion where speakers responded to each other, the panel concluded with a Q and A session.

Speakers are listed in the order they presented in the webinar:

  • Namık Erkal | TED University in Ankara
  • Christina Maranci | Tufts University
  • Maria Georgopoulou | American School of Classical Studies at Athens
  • Sevil Enginsoy | Istanbul Bilgi University
  • Çiğdem Kafesçioğlu | Boğaziçi University
  • Bissera Pentcheva | Stanford University
  • Belgin Turan | Middle East Technical University
  • Peter Christensen | Co-Moderator, University of Rochester
  • Nikos Magouliotis | ETH Zurich 
  • Esra Akcan | Co-Moderator, Cornell University
  • Mesut Dinler | Politecnico di Torino
  • Mücahit Bilici | City University of New York
  • Bülent Batuman | Bilkent University

Ethics and Rights of Immigration April 23, 2019 

Ethics and Rights of Immigration Poster

All the countries in the world operate under the assumption that they have a right to control immigration within their jurisdictions. Most states take this right to be very robust, giving the state almost absolute discretion in determining who to let in and under what conditions. But is this right to control immigration morally justified? Should states have almost absolute control over their borders, keeping out anyone they wish? How does immigration control affect the moral standing of minorities within the country? Should borders be much more open and allow a free, or almost free, flow of immigrants? Do individuals living in distressed or war-torn parts of the world have a human right to immigrate to more affluent and peaceful countries? Or is the right to immigration confined to cases of asylum?


  • Patti Tamara Lenard (University of Ottawa)
  • Jeremy Waldron (New York University School of Law)
  • Christopher Heath Wellman (Washington University in St. Louis)

Moderated by Andrei Marmor (Cornell University Law and Department of Philosophy)

The Future of EU? Immigration and the Rise of Populism March 7, 2019

The Future of EU Immigration Poster

Freedom House reports that its global index of civil rights and political liberties has been declining for 13 consecutive years from 2005 till 2018, with 68 countries experiencing a net decline in 2018 alone. Many of these countries are associated with Europe, including Hungary, Poland, Turkey and Russia. The recent threats to democracy, the rise of populism in Europe and elsewhere, UK’s vote on Brexit, and similar trends drive scholars to rethink the strength and future of the European Union. The anxieties about immigration shape both the populist and the protectionist discourses in these countries in different ways.Speakers: 

  • Donatella Di Cesare | Sapienza University of Rome
  • Virag Molnar | The New School for Social Research
  • Cas Mudde | University of Georgia

Moderated by Kenneth Roberts | Cornell University, Department of Government

Family Separation: Lessons from Europe's Past September 28, 2018

Family Separation - Lessons from Europe's Past Poster
Europe has a long history of family separation, which includes both violent immigration control and advocacy against these discriminatory practices. In this panel, scholars who have researched abusive procedures in gendered immigration control in Britain, Germany, Netherlands, and the lands of the Ottoman Empire presented their studies.

Building on her previous work on the British visa officials in London and the Indian subcontinent, as well as her vigorous campaign against such practices, Jacqueline Bhabha (JD, MSc, Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Director of Research at the Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights), delivered her paper “Lessons learnt, forgotten or ignored? Family Separation in Europe and Beyond.” In her talk “Family Separation as a Tool for Genocide: A Look at the 1915 Ottoman Armenian Case,”

Lerna Ekmekçioğlu (McMillan-Stewart Associate Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) analyzed the context and consequences of the Ottoman government’s gendered and familial policies during the process of ‘undoing the Armenian family.’ Finally, in her paper “The Trauma of Family Reunification: Hidden Jewish Children in Holland after World War II”

Diane L. Wolf (Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Davis) focused on the trauma experienced by many hidden children after the war, and how their trauma coalesced around family reunification. 

Exiles in the 21st century: the new ‘population law’ of absolute capitalism September 24, 2018

Exiles in the 21st Century Poster
Clearly, the 21st century will be marked by the increasingly large number of exiles, i.e. uprooted and displaced people who find themselves “erring” within or between states and continents, suffering extreme hardship or facing elimination, and creating imminent “pressure” on states and societies, with moral, economic and political dimensions. This can be addressed from totally antithetic standpoints, leading to a polarization of attitudes with unpredictable results, on which the future of our institutions may well depend. While the origins of the exilic process are complex, and the statutes under which the errands themselves are categorized for administrative and ideological reasons are multiple, a neo-Marxist perspective may try and bring some clarification through the investigation of the “population law” that characterizes contemporary neo-liberal or “absolute” capitalism. The talk wanted to describe and assess the value of this possibility. 

Étienne Balibar | Kingston University London, Columbia University

Blackout: The Necropolitics of Extraction September 19, 2018

Blackout - The Necropolitics of Extraction Poster

This presentation addressed extraction, as well as the politics and aesthetics of emergent forms of resistance today. In view of spreading sacrifice zones given over to resource mining, abetted by exploitative international trade agreements and the finance of debt servitude, intensifying the causes of involuntary migration, what forms do the cultural politics of resistance take, and how are artist-activists materializing the images and sounds of emancipation and decolonization? With reference to the diverse artwork of Angela Melitopoulos, Allora & Calzadilla, and Ursula Biemann, which considers geographies of conflict in such regions as Greece, Puerto Rico, and Canada and Bangladesh, this analysis considered a range of leading artistic approaches that adopt an aesthetics of intersectionality that reveals complex causalities and effects, offered a modeling of politico-ecological interpretation, and proposed forms of solidarity with those on the frontlines of opposition. 

T. J. Demos | University of California at Santa Cruz  

Co-sponsored with the Department of Architecture

Global 1968: Panel with Cornell Faculty September 5, 2018

Global 1968 Panel Poster

1968 has come to be seen as the symbolic date for one of the most influential breaks in the history of the twentieth century. Sudden or incremental, young or multi-generational, academic or activist, intellectual or managerial, quotidian or institutional, transformative socially or in political party systems, revolutionary or reformist, and most likely all of the above to some degree in different places, the critical juncture of 1968 and its global legacies are yet to be assessed. In its fiftieth anniversary, this conversational panel with Cornell faculty presented the short and long term impacts of 1968 on societies around the world, as well as its possible reverberations today.

The speakers made brief presentations on the history and legacy of this chronological marker in Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, Turkey and USA, among other locations. A conversation and Q & A followed to construct comparative reviews of this moment of cultural upheaval, university protests and civil rights movements. The speakers of “Global 1968” collectively illustrated the simultaneity and migration of revolutionary ideas.  


  • Sidney Tarrow | Government, Law
  • Elke Siegel | German Studies
  • Raymond Craib | History, Latin American Studies
  • Larry Glickman | History, American Studies
  • Simten Coşar | IES/Einaudi
  • Iftikhar Dadi | History of Art, SAP/Einaudi
  • Enzo Traverso | Romance Studies

Moderated by Esra Akcan | Architecture, IES/Einaudi

Exhibiting Yugoslavia April 26, 2018

Exhibiting Yugoslavia Poster
The Balkans region has long been seen as only peripherally associated with the project of modernity, and the lands of the former Yugoslavia have been construed in Western art, literature, and culture as Europe’s internal “other”. However, in carefully considering Yugoslav architects’ production and networks of exchange between the years 1948 and 1980, a very different picture of the region emerges.

Martino Stierli, Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art in New York,  talked about his upcoming exhibition on the topic. Rather than a secondary backwater of the modern world, Stierli situated socialist Yugoslavia at the forefront of the period’s international architectural discourse, due in large part to the country’s diverse associations with architects on both sides of the Iron Curtain as well as in Africa and the Middle East. In this sense, the country’s architectural culture can be seen as a laboratory of globalization that undermined Cold War-era dichotomies. Stierli’s presentation was followed by a response by Saša Begović, founding partner of Croatian-based 3LHD Architects, Zagreb, Croatia.

Moderated by Esra Akcan | Architecture, IES/Einaudi

The Arts of the Immigrant Continent April 12, 2018

Arts of the Immigrant Continent Poster

A panel discussion which addressed Europe as an immigrant continent, and especially concentrated on the relation between immigration and art, by bringing together artists ​and scholars who work on diasporas and migrant art in major European cities. 

  • Speakers:
  • Leslie A. Adelson | Department Chair & Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of German Studies, Cornell University 
  • Martin Rein-Cano | Landscape Architect, TOPOTEK 1, Berlin, Germany
  • Pamela Corey | Lecturer in South East Asian Art, Department of History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts, University of London
  • Moderated by: Esra Akcan | Architecture, IES/Einaudi

Crossing the Mediterranean: Migration, Death, and Culture February 27, 2018

Crossing the Mediterranean Event Poster

The International Organization of Migration reported that approximately 4000 migrants had died while trying to cross the ​Mediterranean Sea in the year of 2016, and approximately 3000 by the tenth month of 2017. This panel brought together an international group of scholars and journalists who spoke about the historical and contemporary traumatic experiences, such as deaths, accidents, colonization, and forced migrations, suffered by those crossing the Mediterranean. Panelists exposed the extent of looted archeological objects across seas; discussed the violence of France’s spatial practices during the Algerian Revolution on both sides of the Mediterranean; ­reflected on the main causes of people's drowning in recent years; and focused on the maritime arena as a mobile border that envelops migrants seeking to navigate structural injustices as well as ideological and violent conflicts. 

  • Speakers:
  • Annetta Alexandridis (Associate Professor, History of Art and Visual Studies, Cornell University)
  • Samia Henni (Lecturer, Architecture, Princeton University) 
  • John Psaropoulos (Independent Journalists, Athens) 
  • Maurizio Albahari (Associate Professor, Anthropology, University of Notre Dame) 

Moderated by: Esra Akcan (Architecture, IES/Einaudi)

Migration of Images October 24, 2017

Migration of Images Poster

While our age is often named as the visual century, the historical relevance of image migration is relatively under-studied. The “Migration of Images” panel brought together scholars who spoke to the visualization of Muhammad in art books throughout Europe across centuries, geopolitics of exhibiting paintings and objects, and Bauhaus in India. 

  • Avinoam Shalem | Columbia University
  • Saloni Mathur | University of California at Los Angeles

Will this robot take my job? October 18, 2017

Will This Robot Take My Job Poster

Anxieties over the issue of migration and hostility towards immigrants seem partly related to automation and fears of unemployment. The panel addressed the relationship between migration and technology (part of “Critically Now” series, AAP). 

  • Guy Hoffman | Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Ronald R. Kline | Department of Science and Technology Studies
  • Ross A. Knepper | Department of Computer Science
  • Adam Seth Litwin | Labor Relations, Law, and History
  • Kirstin Hagelskjær Petersen | Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Sasa Zivkovic | Department of Architecture

Outlawing Dissent: The Flight of Scholars to Europe October 3, 2017

Author of a seminal book on exiled scholars (Auerbach in particular) from Germany during National Socialism, and currently active with exiled scholars in Germany, as well as the founder of the Exile Academy, Kader Konuk addressed the historical and contemporary dimensions of violations of academic freedom.

Kader Konuk | Chair, Institut für Turkistik, Universität Duisburg-Essen