Questions of integration: social, political, and economic incorporation of New Europe in a globalized world

During 2007–2008 the forum on contemporary Europe launched the second phase of its comprehensive, multi-year analysis of Europe and the EU’s global relations in the context of an expanding European Union. What began last year with analysis of political membership this year added a focus on implications of expanded membership in key areas, including social integration of immigrant communities. Forum researchers and invited scholars addressed questions central to understanding the process of European integration and areas of concern it raises. During the fall of 2007, in seminars, keynote speeches, and international conferences, Forum researchers addressed such questions as:

  • What explains the electoral results of populist parties, with their nationalist and anti-immigrant platforms, gaining where they had previously remained marginal (Switzerland) and declining where they had regularly held influence (France)?
  • How should OSCE member states and election monitors respond to the denial of visas for monitoring Russia’s parliamentary elections?
  • What is inflaming renewed outbursts of violence in multiple urban centers? Do the riots reveal urban youth segregated by race? Compelled by fundamentalism? Or disaffected with the promised EU economic mobility?
  • Do instances of violence against ethnicminorities reveal a return to a pre-modern xenophobia or an old behavior used to express a new rejection of EU integration?
  • Will laws protecting historical memory, such as the Spanish act to rebury victims of Fascist forces and German and Austrian laws criminalizing holocaust denial, resolve or inflame neo-fascist parties?
  • What stance can the EU take in regard to Turkey’s article 301 criminalizing historical comments as denigrating the heritage of the Turkish state?
  • Does EU membership mollify or magnify cultural tensions behind separatist movements in cases such as Flanders, Catalonia, Corsica, Basque homelands, and, potentially, Kurdish regions of Turkey?

Highlights of the following fall 2007 events illustrate forum research on these vital questions.


The forum joined with the Stanford Humanities Center to organize an international conference on “Ethnicity in Today’s Europe.” Amir Eshel, director of the forum, opened the conference with remarks on the growth of immigrant communities, and their increasingly widespread origins, as well as implications for security and integration. The Stanford faculty organizing committee identified and attracted the top scholars on the subject from both sides of the Atlantic, including professors Saskia Sassen (sociology, Columbia), Alec Hargreaves (French, Florida State), Leslie Adelson (German studies, Cornell), Kader Konuk (Germanic languages and literatures, Michigan), Rogers Brubaker, (sociology, UCLA), Carole Fink (history, Ohio State), Salvador Cardus Ros (sociology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), and Bassam Tibi (international relations, University of Gottingen). Panels were moderated by Stanford faculty: Helen Stacy (law school), J.P. Daughton (history), Joshua Cohen (political science, philosophy, FSI), Pavle Levi (art), and Josef Joffe (FSI).

Panelists and a large, engaged public audience convened for a screening of the award-winning film Fortress Europe and a discussion with the film-maker Zelimir Zilnik. The conference-related Presidential Lecture by Partha Chatterjee (political science, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta; anthropology, Columbia), brought a capacity audience to open the conference with a study of the historical foundations of inter-ethnic relations in post-colonial Europe. The forum’s assistant director, Roland Hsu, has invited participants to contribute to a volume he will edit and introduce on Ethnicity in Today’s Europe to be published in 2008.


The forum invited three leading figures on EU policy to speak on the FCE panel at the FSI international conference. Engaging the theme of power and prosperity, Wolfgang Münchau, writer for the Financial Times; Monica Macovei, former justice minister, Romania; and Mark Leonard, executive director of the European Council on Foreign Relations and Open Society [Soros] Foundation, spoke on the challenge of interpreting recent EU electoral, juridical, economic, and social reforms. This panel examined economic growth in the newest member states in the East, the challenge of political and social integration in the West, and countervailing pressures for consolidating post-communist governments and transparency reforms. The European Union’s expansion to 27 member nations promises a vast Euro-zone and a stronger trans-Atlantic partner. Questions from the audience engaged the panel on what level of confidence should be placed in this promise. The dilemma over Kosovo, pending Serbian EU accession, the expansion eastward to include societies bordering former Soviet republics, the question of Turkey’s membership, as well as tightening labor markets and welfare budgets in Western Europe, led the panel and audience to anticipate with cautious optimism the potency of EU integration and foreign policy initiatives.


Forum-affiliated faculty brought such questions to a special lunch with Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk; and then joined an overflow audience event at Memorial Auditorium titled An Evening with Orhan Pamuk. The forum co-sponsored the visit by Pamuk, along with Mediterranean Studies, the Office of the Provost, and the FSI S.T. Lee lecture series.

Research and public programs on these subjects will continue at the forum in the following selected events:


Designed by forum acting director Katherine Jolluck, this international conference will examine the trafficking of women for sexual slavery, a trade that has rapidly expanded since the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the USSR. The conference will bring together scholars, policy experts, and NGO analysts to discuss the issue from economic, legal, and human rights perspectives. Special attention will be devoted to strategies to combat the problem and address the needs of victimized females. Madeline Rees, head of Women’s Rights and Gender Unit, U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, former U.N. high commissioner for human rights in Bosnia, has been invited to give the keynote speech.


The forum has invited Jan Eliasson, former Swedish foreign minister and current U.N. special envoy to Darfur, to speak on his work on behalf of the international community and the EU-African Union mission to bring peace and humanitarian relief to Darfur and its neighboring states.


The forum has invited multiple affiliated centers including the Center for Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies, the Department of History, and the Stanford Law School to co-sponsor a panel discussion following the December 2007 U.N.-EU deadline for status talks. Elez Biberaj, director of the Eurasia division at VOA, and Obrad Kesic, formerly at IREX and also former advisor to Yugoslav President Panic, will speak on prospects for the status of Kosovo and the efficacy of potential EU membership to mediate Kosovo-Serbian relations.