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Europe’s Changing Migrations

John Salt’s keynote address at Gdynia conference

Europe’s Changing Migrations

On 25 October, Professor John Salt gave the keynote opening address at a conference in Gdynia, Poland, on European Migrations after 2004: Causes, Effects and Perspectives. The meeting was held at the Polish Emigration Museum, and was its Third International Interdisciplinary Scientific Conference, in partnership with the Centre for Migration Research, University of Warsaw.

John’s address, Europe’s Changing Migrations, placed Polish emigration and immigration into a broader European context. After reviewing UK data on Polish immigration, it focused on three overlapping forms of explanation of migration flows: (1) buffer theory, based on the idea that foreign labour is flexible and manipulable; (2) migrant labour flows seen as the outcome of ‘industrial’ management by a range of organisations and actors; and (3) migration driven by the growing need to exchange expertise in various ways, not only through  short and long term physical movement but also influenced by business travel and growing “virtual mobility” (expertise exchange without the movement of persons).

As Poland moves from a country of emigration to one of immigration (especially from Ukraine and Belarus), and also competes more strongly for high level skills, processes (2) and (3) are becoming more significant.

Most conference presentations focused on Polish migrant groups in various countries, usually based on qualitative surveys. Themes ranged from participation in elections to forms of integration into various European cities. Current literature seemed to suggest that contemporary Polish emigrants must be among the most studied groups in the world!

A highlight of the conference was a conducted tour of the Emigration Museum, where the conference was held. The superbly refurbished building is the converted departure hall for 1930s Polish emigrants, and the museum traces the constant thread of emigration throughout Poland’s history. Imaginatively laid out, and containing a wealth of information and artefacts, it is well worth a visit by anyone travelling in that part of the world.

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Image

John in full flow


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