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Transcript: Migration and Mobility: Yesterday and Today

group of migrants

 

With more than 80 million forcibly displaced people in the world and another 260-plus million international migrants, humans today seem to be on the move. Debates over immigration and refugee policy in the U.S., Europe, and across the world have become fierce and deeply divisive, to say the least, and will surely continue to dominate politics in the coming years. All the while, lives are in the balance as people around the globe take the often difficult decision to set off to make a new home in another country. History allows us a glimpse at the motivations and predicaments people on the move face today and in the future.

Ohio State University Department of History panelists Theodora Dragostinova, Associate Professor; Maysan Haydar, Lecturer and Robin Judd, Associate Professor, discuss these issues with host Nicholas Breyfogle, Associate Professor, Department of History.

[Listen to the podcast here.]

Transcript Begins Here:

Dr. Nicholas Breyfogle 
Hello, and welcome to Migration and Mobility: Insights from History coming to you from the history department in the College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University. My name is Nick Breyfogle. And I'm an associate professor of history and I'll be your host and your moderator today. We're so very happy that you've chosen to join us. Let's talk a little bit about the big picture. There's more than 80 million forcibly displaced people in the world and another more than 260 million international migrants. Humans today seem to be on the move. Debates over immigration and refugee policy, especially in the US and Europe, have become fierce and deeply divisive and will surely continue to dominate politics in the coming years. All the while lives are in the balance as people around the globe take the often difficult decision to set off to make a new home in another country. History allows us a glimpse at the motivations and predicaments people on the move face today and in the future. Let me introduce our panelists. First, please meet Theodora Dragostinova, who's an associate professor of modern European and Eastern European history at Ohio State and a native of Bulgaria. Her work is focused on nationalism, minorities and refugees in Eastern Europe, as well as cold war culture in a global context. She's the author of Between Two Motherland's: Nationality and Immigration Among the Greeks in Bulgaria, and also the forthcoming The Cold War from the Margins, A Small Socialist State on the Global Cultural Scene. At OSU, she teaches classes on modern Europe, Eastern and West, with a focus on nationalism, communism, and migration. Also joining us is Maysan Haydar. She's a recent PhD from the Department of History at Ohio State. She researches westward migration and acculturation patterns in the 20th and 21st centuries, and her work has been published by among others, Harper Collins, Seal Press, Rowan and Littlefield and St. Martin's Press. Last but not least, please meet Robin Judd. She's an associate professor of Jewish, European and gender history at OSU. She's the author of Contested Rituals, Circumcision, Culture Butchering, sorry Kosher, Butchering, and Jewish Political Life in Germany. And she's currently finishing her second book, Love, Liberation and Loss, Military Marriages After the Holocaust. Robin is the recipient of seven teaching awards, including the University's Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching. And she serves as the Vice President for Programming of the Association for Jewish Studies, the leading international Jewish Studies organization. Thanks to all three of you for joining us today. Now, let's open up our discussion among our panelists. And what we're going to do is, well, they're going to have a conversation based upon questions that you have sent in. Many of you submitted questions when you registered. And we'll answer some of those to begin with. We'll also be collecting questions during the event through the question and answer feature, which is at the bottom bar of your zoom. And so please, as we go along, send in questions that you have. We have, we've received a lot of questions even already, we'll do our best to answer them. But I'm not sure if we'll make it through even all that we have so far. But we'll do our best. Send in new ones as we go. And we'll be delighted to talk about them. So, without further ado, let's hear from our very august panel. And let's start with a really big question that several people in the audience have asked, and I'll send this one to Theodora to start. Okay, it's a big one, be ready. Historically, what has driven people to migrate? And are the same forces at work today? How have major historical events shaped migration in the past? Perhaps you could mention an example of a key moment in recent history that has affected migration.

Dr. Theodora Dragostinova 
Wow, Nick, thank you. This is a big question indeed. And thank you, everyone for joining us here for what is promising to be a lovely and lively discussion. So to go to the question as a historian I want to start with the definition. According to the International Organization for Migration, a migrant is anyone who has moved away from their permanent place of residence for more than three months, regardless of the reason. So this definition is very open ended and allows for various reasons for people to move whether it's going, and we're going to touch upon probably many of these reasons, whether it is work, whether it is health reasons, whether it is feminine reasons, marriage perhaps, whether it is war and violence. This definition actually does not distinguish necessarily what the reasons are, which really allows us to think about the diverse factors that determine why people move. And I think it's important for us to adopt such an open ended and broad definition because we ultimately want to think about migration, as something normal, something customary, something that people engage in for a variety of reasons. And I am going to just to get us going, I'm going to just pinpoint one moment in history, when migration began being regulated and began being seen as problematic. A key moment that comes to mind, to me as a historian, is World War I when, because of the global conflict and because of the intensity of total war, all warring nations imposed limitations on the movement of people who were not their citizens. They asked for papers. They enacted border checks. They asked for papers and checked those papers at these border checks. And those were meant to be temporary restrictions. But what we saw is that in the aftermath of World War I, many of these restrictions remained in place. So it's, as contemporary people we are so used to thinking about the passport, the document and the border check as something that is a given. But we have to remember that historically speaking this a very recent thing that only came into being in the last century. And then they became perfected over time in the 20th century, up until today. And I'm going to stop here. I can pinpoint other examples, but I want to keep it brief for now. And we'll return to some other examples, I'm sure from World War II, from the Cold War and so forth.

Dr. Robin Judd 
Can I jump in for a second? Because I loved a couple of things. I mean, I always love whatever Theodora says, but there are a couple of things that I think were particularly salient. The first is the sort of everydayness of movement and migration. And I think, particularly for us, as teachers, of undergraduates, of students, who are themselves individuals who have left their place of home, and are now sort of in a new space,  migration means something in a real nuanced way. But I also wanted to take issue a little bit. I mean, and I agree with her in terms of the sort of totality of World War I. But one of the things that I think is so fascinating for us when we kind of look backwards, even before the First World War, right is the ways in which this question about how does one govern one's national borders? And what kinds of laws should be created? And what kinds of papers should be needed? And how does one check borders? is something that we see far earlier. And yet what happens, right, with this first world war is the universality of the experience. And so I kind of love that example, as a moment where, across many parts of the world, we're beginning to engage in very similar conversations about what it means to move, and what are some of the sort of policies around movement.

Dr. Maysan Haydar 
Yeah, I think that's a wonderful structure that I get to, that I get to pour some icing on. I think that the factor that a lot of people take for granted is the fact that, you know, World War I was the end of the era of empires, right, you know. So, because the Ottoman Empire fractured and fell, that was the last in terms of the way the world used to be built, which was, you know, vast swathes of land being independent nations, but kind of, you know, coalesced together in a place where it'd be kind of what we interpret the how the EU works now where they're each distinct lands, but they don't have, you know, strict guidelines about how to enter and leave those particular places. So in the era of empires, there wouldn't have been necessarily this need for like hard and fast borders. People could pass between them. You know, you belong to something, but you could travel, you know, seamlessly between and really World War I is the end of that, where, you know, we now build up, like federal infrastructures defined by who belongs and who doesn't, and who we want to come in and who we don't want to come in. You know, our own national history really is like the federal government is built by, you know, deciding who gets to come in and like deciding who is a citizen and who gets to come in, and what are the qualities that define a citizen. So, you know, the, tying those two things together is really important. So thank you for doing that.

Dr. Nicholas Breyfogle 
So let me follow up on that, Maysan. I'm interested in, you know, the United States is, is often called, it sees itself very much as a kind of country of immigrants. That's one of the clear stereotypes. It's seen in the photo behind me. And I'm curious about whether you could speak a little bit about how you think that's changed over time. Are we still a country of immigrants in the same way that we used to be? And when have things changed?

Dr. Maysan Haydar 
So if you're going to look not just at the, the definition that Theodora used in terms of a migrant as someone who moves for more than three months, if you look at like the continental United States, everyone in its borders, is not an original source. Even Native Americans at some point, you know, walked over, you know, the straits that made up the continent. So, you know, none of us are organic to this particular land. So if you're going to be inclusive in that way, then through either, you know, 20,000 years ago migration, or forced migration through enslaved people in the Atlantic slave trade in the, you know, 16th, and 17th and 18th centuries, you know, the, we're all we all have a story, it just, you know, if some of ours are longer than others. I think the biggest difference in how it's framed is that we used to think of immigration as being, you know, one way passage from somewhere permanently to another place, and either it took, people loved it or, you know, struggled and made it permanent, or it didn't, and they returned to their place of origin. And that's the end of the story. When really, you know, the story has always been one that you can label. Transnational people have always lived between two places. You know, even when people were coming entirely on ships, they would return, you know, to China. They would return to Italy. They would return to Germany. They would return to marry. They would return to see their families. So this, you know, people always existed between places. We just had this fantasy that it was a one time, one way thing. We understand that it's more fluid now, and then, you know, we also have accelerated that fluidity, because it's so easy to travel now. That it's so easy to communicate, so people don't feel bound to only be a citizen, or only to identify as one thing. I'd say the most significant difference is that, you know, for people who emigrate now and already have, like a cultural context that their people belong to, it's harder to differentiate yourself from what it already means to be Irish American, Italian American, Arab American, because that, there's already like several generations of preset identity. That's pretty much the only real significant difference between migration 100 years ago and migration now.

Dr. Nicholas Breyfogle 
Here's, Robin and Theodora... Whether you have thoughts about, I mean, how different or similar is that kind of process in the European case, as opposed to the US case? I mean, a lot of European countries don't think about themselves necessarily as  immigrant types of countries, but what do we see going on there? Do we see processes of being between two places? Do we see these kinds of continuities across time?

Dr. Theodora Dragostinova 
Nick, I was actually thinking about this parallel as Maysan was talking.

Dr. Nicholas Breyfogle 
Perfect.

Dr. Theodora Dragostinova 
I don't know you were reading my thoughts, apparently. So um, well, yes, as you pointed correctly, in the European imagination, Europeans generally do not see themselves as, you know, a continent of immigration, as this is something very much ingrained in the national imagination of the United States. Only recently, and I'm going to say very recently, in the last 10 years really, there have been, maybe 20, there have been intense debates in Europe over the necessity to also incorporate this aspect of what it means to be a European, as this is connected to globalization, the spread of globalization as we know it today, but also to coming to terms with the legacy of empire and imperialism in the way it has shaped the European continent and the importance of people who are often not being seen as original Europeans, because they come from some other place that in the European imagination is defined as an outside place. So very definitely, I think that this dynamic of inclusion and exclusion are one of the, I would say, modern phenomena that have defined the way people are thinking about migration today. Because some aspects of migration we don't find problematic because they relate to people who we feel are the same sorts of people like us, and other aspects of immigration are seen as problematic, because they are connected to other sorts of people who seem to be moving for reasons that we don't often associate with, or we refuse to necessarily see our role in why other people are moving. So I'm just going to leave it here. I also can talk about the EU, but maybe we can leave it for a little bit later times.

Dr. Robin Judd 
I mean, I think Theodora's landscaping, right, is really significant, ie what is it that we're asking in terms of about about space and place? Because certainly, I agree with the sort of way in which she's charted out the European imagination, and the ways in which immigration has played out recently. At the same time, we remember, of course, that in the 70s, even during moments of Empire, and even within moments of Empire, right, there were questions about petitions of residence and settling. There were expulsions, there were moments of invitation, and moments of dislocation. And that was very much part of the sort of, if you will, European experience, whether it was within the German experience, or the French experience, or the British experience, the Italian experience, right? That there is a narrative of who is an insider, and who is an outsider. And, you know, if we're going to take, let's say, the German states, for example. Many of them will have very clear senses of who has the right to reside in the 1700s and 1800s, and won petitions for residents, and it's a question of inclusion and exclusion. So I think, right, we do sort of, we don't think about the European, you know, European citizenship, of course, in the 16 17 18 1900s. That's going to be something that will develop later in the 1900s. But this question about a nation of immigrants, and what does that mean and are we scared of them, I think is something that's very, that plays out very much in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Dr. Nicholas Breyfogle 
Let's, can we take that a little bit further, Robin? I, we've had a couple of questions come in, kind of in this regard, about, you know, we often talk today about immigration being some kind of of a crisis or a problem or an issue that we have to deal with and sometimes an invasion, a threat, I mean the list goes on, all this kind of language that we hear. And perhaps you could talk a bit more I mean, when do people really start to worry about people moving, about immigration as a kind of human activity? And Miriam Mohammed today asks, and just to tag onto that, in the political climate we're in where do you think hatred towards immigrants is rooted from, you know, how did it come about? So it's a big kind of question. But I'm curious, I mean, how we think about these things, really matters. And so do you have a sense of when that, when and why that starts to begin, where that comes from?

Dr. Robin Judd 
These are big questions.

Dr. Nicholas Breyfogle 
Oh, yeah, we only have big here.

Dr. Robin Judd 
They are. They are big questions. And this is an incredibly simplistic answer. But I often remind my students that people act like people because they're people. Which is to say that, for as long as, you know, we've kind of studied humanity, people have worried about how they can secure their resources. How can they guarantee the safety of their culture? How do they make sure that they protect themselves and their families? And so this question about how new arrivals are envisioned? Like, are these new arrivals, or even potential, that the possibility of these new arrivals, are these people envisioned as a threat? Or are they envisioned as an opportunity? And we see both, right, over time, and so much of it has to do with time and place? And who is the individual that's envisioning, right? Who is the person who's going to be receiving? And who are those who are coming in? And people can take on multiple, what we might even consider to be contradictory positions. Which is that we might have somebody who on the one, would push for the exclusion of some but the inclusion of others, based solely on, you know, are these individuals, do these individuals look like the person who gets to make that decision? Right? Do they share the same culture? Do they speak the same language? Do they have they related kinship? So I wish I could say, oh, it was like in this moment that we begin to see fear of migrants, but on the very first day of my American Jewish history class, right, we pull out Peter Stuyvesant and the petition of a small number of Jews who are fleeing Brazil, um, they're fleeing Brazil, because of course, the Portuguese now are making their way through Brazil, and these Jews are concerned about their safety. And so they flee. And they go to various parts of the New World, including New Amsterdam, and Peter Stuyvesant is desperately concerned about the small number of Jews arriving in New Amsterdam. Why? Because in his mind, right, they are users, right? A medieval charge of Jews being financially nefarious, that they have supposedly been responsible for the killing of Jesus, right, an ancient charge. So we see concerns about arrivals really, for as long as we study history, but we also see and I have to kind of underscore this, we also see moments where there's excitement about arrivals. Because as we know, arrivals bring things. They bring knowledge. They bring expertise. They bring their own physical bodies, right? And they give us opportunities to change culture. And so, you know, certainly I don't want to push against the language of crisis, we see lots of moments of crises. I'm a Jewish historian, it's all crisis all the time. But at the same time, right, we also see excitement and opportunity.

Dr. Maysan Haydar 
I want to, I want to challenge Robin on just the one thing which was she said that people tend to favor immigrants who look like them or share cultural heritage. And I will tell you from having just very recently studied thousands of immigrant documents, there's tons of people that want to discriminate against their very own kind. Like, the door shut right behind them. They were the last in. Thank you, new world, we're closed now. So you know, this sense of, you know, there's only enough for some, and I get to have some of that some but you know, anyone behind me or anyone who is not me, is going to be left out, and I'm sorry, or not. But you know, that sentiment is sometimes against your very own kind, even for very recent immigrants, you know. We saw a lot of that, in terms of people who piled on with the former administration's rhetoric, you know, there'd be people who were very recent South Asian immigrants, or very recent Arab immigrants, who were very happy to latch on to his various bands. And the choice to not mention the name is strategic, so we can just leave it with that one.

Dr. Robin Judd 
No, and I'll totally agree with that. Like, I mean, you know, certainly even within the, let's say, the Jewish community, we have families, where at the same time, I guess what I was envisioning, was that they wanted physically their brother to come or their sister or their child, right, but not, right, the somebody, another Jew from their village, right. So we, you know, so you do when, so they want themselves, they want themselves not, not like the next generation, but their immediate. I guess that's what I was trying to say. But I totally agree.

Dr. Theodora Dragostinova 
And if I can just like jump very quickly here, just to say that when we're talking about immigration, this crisis, very often this is a discourse that originates in political circles, who are trying to mobilize a political base for their own political purposes. And I want to underscore how important for us it's to actually realize that because very often the experience of immigration and the treatment of immigrants at the level of everyday life at the community level is actually, you know, does not represent a reality of crisis, people are welcoming and helpful. But it is a very convenient way of, actually convenient political rhetoric, for politicians who want to, you know, attract people with anxieties who are looking for easy explanations why they may not have fared well in the current economic situation. So it becomes an easy excuse for politicians to offer as an explanation why policies are failing. And I'm just going to leave again, this very open ended and abstract because we can point to examples from a variety of contexts where politicians mobilize such a rhetoric.

Dr. Nicholas Breyfogle 
Is there one from today in Europe that really stands out for you, Theodora, that in terms of your politicians using this rhetoric to their political advantage?

Dr. Theodora Dragostinova 
I can give you many examples, for sure.

Dr. Nicholas Breyfogle 
Pick one, pick the one you think is most...

Dr. Theodora Dragostinova 
Brexit. Look at what migration anxieties did. It's propelled to power politicians who capitalized on fears after the 2015 migration crisis. They ran on an anti-immigration platform and they managed to basically secure Great Britain's, you know, leaving the European Union. If this is not enough to show this, right? I mean, and then we have these examples from everywhere, from France to Hungary. But I will stop here.

Dr. Nicholas Breyfogle 
Let me, sorry, I'm going to shift our direction just a little bit because we've had a ton of questions about what we think as a panel the impact of climate change is going to have on migration. I think, as people look out into the world today, and they think about what's different, or the same about migration patterns, climate seems to be a big concern about this. Do you have a sense of, I mean, let me put the question this way, has, in what ways has climate and climate change--and climate has changed a great deal over the human experience on this planet--has climate played a role in the past? And do you see it as playing in a greater or different role today? Maysan, do you want to jump in on that one?

Dr. Maysan Haydar 
I'm sure, actually, I can tie it to what Theodore just said so it's not that much of a leap.

Dr. Nicholas Breyfogle 
Perfect.

Dr. Maysan Haydar 
So the same political philosophies that deny or downplay climate change also tend to have the most restrictive ideas about immigration. And those, that combination is disastrous, it is absolutely a recipe for chaos. Because, you know, as we witness climate change, and as we sit on our hands and don't do anything about it, we are, I don't want to say facilitating, but we are witnessing the exodus and the forced migration of millions of people. You know, and it's going to continue to increase because it isn't just that parts of the world will become inhospitable for life but the amount of disasters that are associated with climate change will also create far more disaster related emergency migrations, which are much harder to settle. You know, so if someone has a voluntary or economic migration, they can fill out applications, they can, you know, signal to the countries that they're interested to move to that they would like to go there, you know, and it can take time. But with emergency or post disaster migrations, like everything has to be done immediately and now, and it, you have a much less secure outcome, because, you know, you can't vet everything as thoroughly or orient people to their new environment or do anything that you would want to do without having that emergency sentiment. So, you know, continuing to just, you know, look the other way, as we see these climate disasters increase is a giant mistake. There's a book by Sonia Shah, who is a science journalist, it's called The Next Great Migration and in it she, you know, looks to the natural world to help us understand where the migrations are going to be coming from. So, if you are seeing, you know, plant life or insect life or animal life, moving away or ceasing to be at a particular place, you can assume that within a very short period of time, human life will be unsustainable in that place as well. So it isn't that we won't know or that we don't know that these things are coming. We absolutely do. And it makes the denialists that much more, you know, egregious because, you know, these are multiple, like they are creating more, you know, what's the word? Like, the the impact is much, like, more magnified, because the fact that we haven't done anything, and we continue to not do anything.

Dr. Robin Judd 
I mean, one thing that so strikes me whenever I teach kind of a world history course, of one kind or another, is that people, I mean, people have always lived within a surprisingly narrow range of temperatures, right? I mean, it makes sense when people live in places where climate supports abundant food production and that we, we shouldn't be surprised. Just as we're not surprised when we study famines in the past, or dramatic changes to the landscape in the past that we see movement, we shouldn't be surprised that with the acceleration of climate change now, that we're going to see migration and some of that migration is not, you know, huge distances, right? A lot of climate migration is move is, is fleeing from the immediate space. And then we begin to see multiple migrations, right people going from place to place to place to place. And, to me, that I think is really a fascinating part of the climate migration story. To Theodora's point earlier about definitions, right, we often think about refugees as somebody who are kind of protected by international law. And increasingly, there is this sort of push about whether or not we can use the term climate refugees. And yet, right, there are no real protections, as Maysan pointed out, for individuals who have to flee because of climate change.

Dr. Theodora Dragostinova 
If I may throw in here, actually some numbers so we can realize what we're talking about, because I made the point to check today. And per the United Nations, until 2050, they predicted between 250 million and 1 billion people will be displaced because of climate change. And I want this to I want to allow us to sort of like really absorb even that lower number of 250 million, and realize what we're talking about, just the magnitude of the disaster that is awaiting us if we don't handle it proactively. And one more thing that I want to mention is actually the class dynamic associated with this phenomenon of climate migration. Because we know that the people who are going to be most affected by climate migrations are the people who are in the most precarious socio-economic positions. And we know that this is going to be displacement that is really going to hit at the core of what some scholars of, I guess, you know, environmental policy call climate justice. Because it's going to come down to this notion of justice. How do we treat the people who are in the most precarious positions? And what kind of measures do we take to make sure that they don't fall in this disaster situation?

Dr. Nicholas Breyfogle 
No, that seems exactly right. And I would just add that, I mean, part of the story of climate, it's, it's temperature, as Robin pointed out, but it's also water. And that's, that's going to be a big thing to watch out for in terms of migration, both in terms of whether you have too much water in a place to make it uninhabitable either in the short term or the long term. You know, the the idea of sea levels rising is, is a big problem. There's that old joke, right that the problem with, the problem with sea levels rising is that the majority of humans live within, I'm making this up, 100 miles of the seashore, and humans can't breathe underwater. So it's, this will be very real. And then the, the absence of water, drought, and the inability to produce food will be huge, huge, huge, huge issues.

Dr. Robin Judd 
I know one of the, I mean you're you're the water guy and in my world, Nick, but David Blackburn has this wonderful book right on thinking about German history through the question of, of seeking out water. And to me, that was such an important reminder of the ways in which questions of environment, climate and resources have very much shaped our history and we have the information. I mean, you know, we're historians, we walk in front of a classroom and hopefully we're training the generation of students who will go out and make policy. But but we have a lot of the information at our fingertips to be able to sort of imagine and foresee what will come in the future.

Dr. Nicholas Breyfogle 
We have a question from Daniel Schoon, who asks, is it true from a historical perspective, that immigrants are often more, more well-received when the economy is booming and scapegoated as the cause of the economy not doing well? Your thoughts about that, that experience historically?

Dr. Maysan Haydar 
Well, you can scapegoat someone at any time. I don't think things have to be going poorly to find a reason to dog them. I mean, scapegoating tends to be strategic like there's they're someone that you are hoping to advantage and that is why you are setting someone as the the bad guy. I'm sure that Robin and Theodora have things that they would want to say on this.

Dr. Robin Judd 
No, I agree with Maysan. I imagine that yes, we certainly will see the scapegoating of immigrants during moments of a perceived crisis, whatever the, if it's a financial crisis or a different kind of crisis. But it's not as if people get a pass in other moments, not to scapegoat. So it's hard for me to think about a moment in the Jewish historical experience, where we don't have at least some example of fear of this particular group of immigrants.

Dr. Nicholas Breyfogle 
We've been talking, we've talked about off and on here about questions of kind of definition. And, you know, what do we mean by migrant or immigrant? We had a couple of questions come our way that are related to these kinds of questions of definition. One one has to do with the word or the idea of refugees. When does that idea come into being? Are there moments of kind of legal change? And yes, sorry I'm just reading as we go, yes. Are, um, are refugees the same today in terms of definition, as they have been in the past? The other question that we've had, which is sort of about, I guess, definitional and related to that is, how, how do we talk about or how do we distinguish between a sort of legal and illegal immigration? So both of these kinds of questions, we'll throw both out. They're sort of related as definitional ones, but Theodora, do you want to take on one of those to start?

Dr. Theodora Dragostinova 
Sure, I will be happy to. So when we talk about the concept of a refugee, I want to emphasize that this is an international legal category. That means something. It comes with rights, rights recognized by states rights are recognized by actually the entire international community, and obligations of the states to provide certain services to these people who have gone usually to a very arduous process of not simply migrating, but also proving the legitimacy of their hardship by submitting to an arduous and strenuous vetting process done by international organizations. In other words, to be a refugee, you have to have a paper by the United Nations, which certifies that yes, officially, you have been vetted after many years, and that you, in fact, meet the requirement. Now, historically speaking, I spoke about World War I as a watershed because it was World War I that actually led to the emergence of the contemporary refugee regime. But what's interesting is that in the aftermath of World War I, the League of Nations defined as refugees, discrete national groups. So the white Russians fleeing the Soviet Union in a Bolshevik Russia, was defined as one of these, you know, new group of refugees, and they were given special passports, the nansen passports. And the other group that was defined at that point as refugees were actually the Armenians fleeing the Ottoman Empire after the Armenian genocide and under this definition, anyone who belonged to this national group was recognized to be basically a refugee. Now what we're seeing after World War II is really a shift in this definition in which the definition of a refugee became tied to the individual experience of war and persecution. In other words, you cannot prove that you are a refugee simply because you are a Jew, a Syrian, an Iraqi. You have to actually prove your specific circumstances under which you have endured this, you know, conditions that actually allow you to be classified as a refugee. So even today in the United States, because right now, with the Biden administration, you will remember that with the term, there was a very strict limitation on the number of refugees that can be resettled to the United States. Actually, the Trump administration reduced the number to a trickle even maybe to zero at some point. I cannot quite remember, because there were so many cuts. But now, right, the Biden administration is opening up again refugee resettlement. And again, I want to emphasize that this is not just opening the doors of the United States for the mass movement of people from areas where there is civil war or conflict. But this is the movement of people who are vetted by a rigorous process by the United Nations who are going to arrive to a very well-organized resettlement scheme. And that is something like that, there's a misconception of how actually this program works. And I think it's very important for us to realize, you know, what, what sort of definitions apply here.

Dr. Maysan Haydar 
I can see, I can actually see value in if the ordinary visa naturalization migration that is not connected to conflict were actually replicated--the system of asylum and refugee status more in terms of what you promised someone or your investment in someone, once you have settled them. I'm not talking about the proving that you are worthy of, you know, of being labeled that way, I'm talking about the other side of it, because with refugees, and with asylees, you make a commitment of like a one- to two-year commitment of orientation, of education, of, you know, people taking, you know, helping the refugees adapt to their new environment. And there really is not a similar program for just your, you know, professional or ordinary immigrant. And I think that, that, that is one thing that is actually, you know, should be praised about the refugee system. Nick brought up the question in terms of legal and illegal immigration. You know, everyone, the definitely historians and scholars that work on immigration, use the terms documented and undocumented to talk about the different kinds of immigration because we recognize that even as people may transgress laws, by having not filled out paperwork, or let paperwork lapse, or, you know, having not been able to secure it, or didn't have the means to even attempt it, you know, that there is no such thing as a person who is illegal. And so to use that term, dehumanizes, the person who, you know, of course, we make the best assumptions that they, you know, have good intentions, and that they want the same things as everyone else does. That they want safety. They want security. They want the ability to build a life. So that's one of the reasons that we tend to not use the terms legal and illegal, even though we still recognize that laws are broken. Like the laws are broken, but the people are not. So, you know, in terms of where the legal and illegal and documented and undocumented and refugee things all fall into the framework of immigration, you know, you can think of different categories of how people immigrate, like how countries that receive them accept them. So they accept a certain number through the UN and other agencies as refugees and asylees. They accept a certain number as temporary workers or international students. And then we have a system where we accept people that intend to be permanent residents, you know, or intend to be permanent citizens. And the documented and undocumented labels are in all of those categories besides the refugee one because you can't get into the country without the proper paperwork if you're officially a refugee. But in terms of their like, there is not a legal and illegal or documented undocumented permanent association with class or the kind of profession you have. There are people who have been undocumented physicians, and have outed themselves, you know, because  they migrated before there was a, you know, there would have been the bright paper trail to bust them. And then they out themselves as being undocumented because they want to showcase it. It's not just a, you know, related to agricultural workers in California.

Dr. Robin Judd 
I might just add one thing, and I'm really glad that Maysan sort of reminded us of the importance of using the language of documented and undocumented. I would add sort of another layer to that, which is that particularly in, I mean, in the cases that I'm aware of, right, US, Britain and Canada, we have narratives of documented immigrants who are then detained, right. And so there's another layer of legality, which is to say that they are legally detained, and perhaps even not legally even allowed to enter into the US, which is they are legally detained on that little island right behind Nick and then sent back to wherever it was that they may have come from, or sent somewhere else all together. And, and that's a legality. And so when we talk about legal and illegal immigration, then we're also obfuscating the role of government, sometimes in preventing those very individuals that governments have already said that they would allow us to enter.

Dr. Theodora Dragostinova 
And may I just throw in one more sort of like definition terminology aspect here. Often in the popular imagination, there is this distinction between people who, who, who are migrating for political versus those who are migrating for economic purposes, or reasons. And often, political migrants are seen roughly as good ones and economic ones as the bad ones or the non desirable and desirable, right. And I just want to emphasize the inability to distinguish really neatly between economic and political migrations, in the same way, it's impossible to necessarily talk strictly about, you know, documented and undocumented. Because even in families, right, you have some people who are, you know, and others who are not. So again, these are neat categories that always that sometimes in reality just don't hold true, because often people migrate or move for a variety of reasons. And for this reason, actually, scholars have been recently promoting the idea that instead of trying to distinguish between political refugees and economic immigrants, we perhaps should be using a more inclusive term such as the term movers and braise the universality of the human condition of movement and moving in mobility by embracing this term.

Dr. Nicholas Breyfogle 
That's great. I um, I'd like to shift this a little bit and kind of focus we've talked a lot about, about the actual movement. We've talked about, kind of reasons for migration. I'm curious to kind of pick up on something Maysan said, which is about kind of questions of reception, and how societies receive movers coming in. And Maysan, I want to ask you a question that may be hard, but I'm hoping you can put your historical knowledge to use in, in kind of solving policy questions, which is sort of based upon what you know, and obviously Robin, Theodora, you'll jump in. Based upon the kind of stories of immigration that you know in the history of immigration, you know, if you could design the immigration policy today what would it look like? What do you, what are the ways in which we can develop a policy that would work for the people coming in, treat them humanely and also work with the people inside our country? Do you have thoughts on that?

Dr. Maysan Haydar 
Well, yes, I have several. Okay, so you can't talk about how you would receive people without also talking about the fact that the policy decisions that we make as as a country and as a people that are, you know, have short term goals in terms of you know, it's fiscally responsible to sell arms to this particular country. But, you know, in terms of the long, you are then creating hundreds of 1000s, if not millions of refugees by having sold the arms, which will certainly be used, you know, against a second people who will then want to migrate out or will need to migrate out because life has become unsustainable. And that new conflict zone that we could see was going to happen, but didn't relate to tie it together with the arms sale. So you know, you can't really think about reception without thinking about all the other things that we do that make life, you know, unsustainable in other places. So but then in terms of the immediate policy, I mean, I think like what I mentioned earlier in terms of the way that we invest in refugees, I mean, the longer a nation, or the longer a community invests in its newest arrivals, the better outcome you have. We have, you know, 200 plus years of evidence on that, you know, when people are migrating to where they know people who could help them get a job, who helped them with language, who teach them things that you wouldn't necessarily know, you know, there was a visiting colleague from Algeria, who did not know why we had drive throughs. And so that was not something that I would ever have thought that I would need to explain, especially in that my Arabic it's not that great. But um, you know, so there, that's just like a light-hearted version of things that just are part of the fabric of our culture that we do not intuit that others don't understand. So the more you invest in someone, the more you show them the ropes, the more likely they are to quickly adapt, or to think of themselves as part of the fabric of their new place. Not saying that, you know, we used to have this notion of the melting pot where like, you lose the flavor of your place of origin entirely. You take on the American stew flavor. We don't, that term is not really used anymore. They've tried salad bowl, they've tried patchwork quilt, like lots of metaphors. I prefer the food ones. But you know, the the idea is that like you help people retain the self that they brought, but also give them everything that they need to succeed in their new environment. Let me think if there's something else that you asked for? I think that was it, right?

Dr. Nicholas Breyfogle 
It's great is what that is. Robin, Theodora, do you have thoughts on this?

Dr. Robin Judd 
I mean, I want to vote for Maysan for President. That's my first. My first thought. 2024 Maysan?

Dr. Maysan Haydar 
Yeah.

Dr. Robin Judd 
Too young. But history is not astrophysics, right. I mean, astrophysics scares me and I think of it as a level of something that I might not comprehend. To Maysan's point. Like, we know that if we invest in people, then those individuals will be more successful. We know that most arrivals, most immigrants are coming to a place because they actually want I mean, yes, there may be cuts back and forth, but they want to live in that society, right. I mean, we shouldn't be surprised that people apply for naturalization rates at very high numbers, after immigration. Like they've come like, of course, they're going to apply to become citizenship. That's why often we think about immigration and citizenship hand in hand. And so I think, to that point, if we create laws around citizenship that are warm and welcoming, that then buttresses laws around immigration, right. There's a duality there that we sometimes forget about. And I'll leave it to Theodora because I know we're running out of time.

Dr. Theodora Dragostinova 
Well, I heard you say, well, of course, people are going to want to acquire US citizenship and I sort of like smiled because we actually know that that's not always the case.

Dr. Robin Judd 
But some do. We shouldn't be surprised that they do want to acquire. I mean, that's what I'm saying is that we see from, you know, we see a reaction of surprise, by the sort of significant number of naturalization applications we shouldn't be surprised. Like that should not overwhelm our government, like our civil service should be able to process those numbers because we should be able to expect them.

Dr. Theodora Dragostinova 
So if I'm to propose some policy, so if, you know, moves to any administration, I would propose to make a priority keeping families together. Because this is just the humane thing to do. When people come for labor they often, you know, things happen. Life is complicated. So you fall in love, you marry, you get settled, you have children, and people or they already have families where they are. And we should allow people to be together with their family. So I would personally make that the priority. And the other big thing on my bucket list is probably the issue of, I would issue and amnesty. I would provide a path towards legality. We have history of issuing amnesties in the past. We have worked very successfully at allowing us to embrace people who have already contributed to the country for years, and there's no reason not to do this with people who have lived here, some of them for many, many years. So these would be the two things that I would do and I honestly think that with appropriate public rhetoric, that is not going to face a lot of resistance, because this is a country again, which sees itself as a country of immigration. And I think there is a way that this can be accomplished.

Dr. Nicholas Breyfogle 
I hope that many of our politicians have a look at this, this webinar when it goes up on a video to kind of hear the things that that history teaches us. Amazingly, we have already come through our hour together. And I hate to cut off such an amazing discussion, particularly because we had a whole series of other questions from the audience that and I apologize, we didn't quite get to some about the future of borders and about the rule of race and white nationalism, and a variety of others that if we'd had another hour we could have taken on. But maybe for another time, we'll take those. Let me close by saying just how grateful we are to our panelists, Theodora Dragostinova, Maysan Haydar, Robin Judd, for sharing their expertise with us. Please join me in giving them a virtual round of applause for their time and for their extraordinary expertise. I'd also like to thank the College of Arts and Sciences, especially Clara Davison, Madey Khurma, and Jade Lac. And also the history department, the Harvey Goldberg Center for Excellence in Teaching, and the magazine Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, all for their sponsorship of this event. And once again, thank you. Thank you for coming today. And thank you for your excellent questions and your ongoing connection to Ohio State. Stay safe and healthy. And we'll see you next time. Thank you.