EuropeNow | Issue 30

Narration can have a powerful effect on the experience of being on the move away from one’s home; it can aid in trauma recovery, protect collective memory, and serve as an important vector for political agency. Precisely because narrative is such a powerful tool, however, it can also be a treacherous one. The most dangerous narratives about migration can be persuasive even when they are inaccurate. For instance, even though migration to Europe has halved in the last two-years, xenophobic politicians such as Victor Orban, Marine Le Pen, and the recently deposed Matteo Salvini deploy tropes of rising existential threat.[1] These stories about migration are not restricted to the political fringes. When the incoming president of the European Commission announced a new position, the “vice-president for protecting the European way of life,” it became clear that a fictional threat (to a fictionally unitary “way of life”) could nevertheless be written into the structure and priorities of European institutions.[2]

Brittany Murray is a scholar of French & Francophone Studies who teaches forced migration at Vassar College. Her first book project was Taking French Feminism to the Streets: Fadela Amara and the Rise of Ni Putes Ni Soumises, and she is working on a book about the 1970s, a decade of economic upheaval, changing gender roles, and new migration policy in France. She is also the Program Coordinator for the Consortium on Forced Migration. Displacement, and Education.

Matthew Brill-Carlat is the Coordinator of Research and Pedagogy with the Consortium on Forced Migration, Displacement, and Education. He is a recent graduate of Vassar College, where he majored in History. Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, Matthew lives in Poughkeepsie, NY.  

Read the full introduction on EuropeNow

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