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Jun Jun
2019 2019
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Professor Catherine Schenk

Economic and Social History Research Seminar: The Solidarity Principle and the EU's "Free Movement of Persons": a critical historical analysis, 1985-2015

17:00 to 19:00

In Trinity Term the Oxford Centre for Economic and Social History Research Seminar will be hosted at St Hilda's for the first time. The programme includes scholars from the US, Australia, Germany and Japan as well as the UK and will address issues as diverse as fashion, aircraft, housing, trade and migration from the early modern period to the late 20th century. All members of the University are welcome to this interdisciplinary seminar and to meet in informal discussion afterwards over refreshments. 

The sixth, and last, seminar in the series will be given by Dr Cristina Blanco Sio-Lopez, Assistant Professor in European Culture and Politics, University of Groningen, who will speak on the topic of:

'The Solidarity Principle and the EU's "Free Movement of Persons": a critical historical analysis, 1985-2015'


This presentation examines the weight and shifting meanings given to the solidarity principle in the European integration process by focusing on the case of the historical construction of the European Union (EU)’s free movement of persons. Its overall objective is to highlight: a) the value of critical historical analysis in this domain and b) the normative legacies on human mobility rights in the European integration process to address the current challenges of this transformative policy.

More particularly, this presentation will introduce archival research findings regarding the European Parliament (EP)’s impact on the evolving modes of implementation of this Schengen Area ‘fourth freedom’ from a ‘solidarity’ viewpoint. The studied timeline spans from 1985 (the inception of the Schengen Area) to 2015 (a key turning point dominated by the public and private perception management of the so-called ‘refugee crisis’).

This presentation addresses the following core questions: What are the historically evolving modes of exclusion in transnational mobility in Europe? How can historical critiques be relevant to today’s challenges to the free movement of persons? What are the neglected solidarity and diversity dimensions of European integration in this realm? In this light, can historical ‘roads not taken’ help us articulate responses to humanitarian dilemmas beyond security-centred conceptions of transnational mobility? And normatively, are narratives on ‘shared values’ in the EU and beyond, sufficient to mediate countervailing factors of exclusion?

The main documents used to analyse the shifting commitment to the solidarity principle as part of the EU’s free movement of persons from a critical historical analysis perspective come from: The Historical Archives of the EU (HAEU), the Historical Archives of the European Parliament (HAEP) and the ‘Barbara Sloan EU Delegation Collection (BSEUDC)’, currently hosted at the University of Pittsburgh Archives. Key primary sources also include Oral History interviews conducted with the main architects and decision-makers in this domain.