Migration and Urban Activism in 20th Century Europe


Rome, 17-19 April 2024

This conference at the German Historical Institute in Rome is designed to illuminate the historical relations between two factors in urban history: migration and urban activism.

Migration and Urban Activism in 20th Century Europe

Cities are made by people who inhabit them. European cities over the 20th century have been strongly shaped by domestic and international migration as well as urban social movements, civil society action, and political protest of various forms. This conference at the German Historical Institute in Rome is designed to illuminate the historical relations between these two factors in urban history: migration and urban activism. It brings together scholars discussing the history of urban developments subject to activism by migrants, against migrants, and for migrants. These three perspectives shall contribute to more systematic understanding of important processes in our cities to which European historiography hitherto has paid relatively little attention.


Wednesday, 17 April

14.30 Reception

15.00 Opening: Migration, Urban Space and Forms of Activism
Martin Baumeister (Rome), Bruno Bonomo (Rome), Olga Sparschuh (Vienna), David Templin (Osnabrück) and Christian Wicke (Utrecht)

15.30 Part 1: Migrant Activism
Chair: Bruno Bonomo (Rome)

1. Markian Prokopovych (Durham): Locating Transmigrants in Vienna and Budapest around 1900: Spaces, Institutions, Informal networks

2. Michael Goebel (Berlin): Local Struggles over Global Order: Migration and Anticolonialism in Interwar Paris

16.40 - 17.00 Coffee Break

3. Sarah Jacobson (Berlin): Organizing from the Neighborhood: Southern Italian Migrants and Housing Occupations in 1970s Italy and West Germany

4. Simon Goeke (Munich): Solidarity, Gastronomy, and Exile Politics: Leftist Anti-Junta Resistance and the Alternative Lifestyle in Munich during the 1960s and 1970s

5. Grazia Prontera (Salzburg): Navigating Political Spaces: The Role of Migrant Activism in Munich’s Local Consultative Body during the 1970s and 1980s

19.00 Keynote: Panikos Panayi (Leicester): Racists, Revolutionaries and Representatives in London: From Hostile Environment to Multiculturalism

Thursday, 18 April

09.30 Reception

10.00 Part 2: Urban Activism against Migration
Chair: Christian Wicke (Utrecht)

1. Stefano Gallo (Naples): Internal urban-oriented Migration in 20th century Italy: Exploring the Social Consequences of Administrative Discrimination

2. Andreas Weigl (Vienna): From the Referendum “Austria First” to the “Sea of Lights” (Lichtermeer): Urban Activism on Immigration after the Fall of the Iron Curtain in Vienna

11.20 - 11.40 Coffee Break

3. Malte Borgmann (Berlin): “We want to live peacefully again.” Anti-migrant Protest and its Influence on the Accommodation of Asylum Seekers in West Berlin

4. Carsta Langner (Jena): “A Danger to Upscale Living” – Local Engagement against the Accommodation of Migrants in the Postsocialist Society of East Germany in the 1990s

13.00 Lunch Break

15.30 Excursion: Migration and Activism in Contemporary Rome: from the Pantanella Factory to Spin Time Labs

Friday, 19 April

9.00 Reception

9.30 Part 3: Urban Activism for Migrants
Chair: David Templin (Osnabrück)

1. Daniel Renshaw (Reading): The Church Army and Jewish Communities in Urban Britain, 1900-1914: Poverty, Proselytization and Prejudice

2. Brian Shaev (Leiden): Civil Society Activism for Migrants in Dortmund, 1945-1968

10.40 - 11.00 Coffee Break

3. Giulia Zitelli Conti (Rome): Firstly Lumpenproletarians, then Immigrants: The Migration Issue in the Struggle for Housing in Rome in the Post-War Period

4. Luca Provenzano (Paris): Taking Back the City: Revolutionary Leftists, Migrants, and Urban Struggle in France and Italy, 1969-1975

5. Tahire Erman (Ankara): Contested Spaces in the Turkish Urban Periphery: Leftist Interventions in Informal Neighborhoods of Rural Migrants

12.45 Lunch Break

13.30 Final Discussion: Urban Activism and Migration
Chair: Olga Sparschuh (Vienna)

Commentaries: Alexander Sedlmaier (Bangor) and Alessandra Gissi (Naples)

14.30 End of the Conference


Christian Wicke (Utrecht University)
E-Mail: c.wicke@uu.nl

David Templin (Universität Osnabrück)
E-Mail: david.templin@uni-osnabrueck.de