ISHA Budapest offers these following workshops at the ISHA New Year’s Seminar 2017 “Xenophobia and Solidarity”:

  1. Migration and Integration
  2. Majority versus Minority, Integration versus Disintegration: Diaspora Histories
  3. „Wilds” and „Civilized”
  4. Occupation and Liberation
  5. Power of Propaganda
  6. Movie and Xenophobia (Fear of the ‘Alien’)
  7. Historiography Workshop
  8. PhD Workshop

1. Migration and Integration

  • Workshop leader: Erzsébet Árvay (Pázmány Péter Catholic University)
  • Number of participants: approx. 10
  • Contact info:

The cause and effect relationship between xenophobia and migration can be briefly summed up with Ronald R. Sundstrom words: “Unlike the proverbial unwanted guest who merely stays too long, xenophobia terrifies the host with the possibility that it will never leave, and forever ruins the act of hosting, sheltering, and giving sanctuary.” In fact, migrants as carriers of their own culture are also triggers of shifts in the recipient societies.

Nowadays, we can hardly read a newspaper without coming across front pages filled with headlines about migration, however, the topic of migration goes far beyond today’s politics. As Lucassen and Manning point out: “Migration has been a structural aspect of human life since the very beginnings.” Therefore, it is of high importance that historians find their voices in the study of migration. This workshop addresses the topic of migration from a historical, sociological, social psychological and cultural anthropological perspective. By the interdisciplinary approach, the workshop attempts to explore the core effects that might lead to the manifestation of xenophobia against émigrés.

The workshop is open but is not limited to the different interpretations of the following topics:

  •        What motivates migration and how it is related to xenophobia? (economic, demographic and political approaches)
  •        Clashes between the recipient society and émigrés
  •        Migration and the Church
  •        Xenophobia triggered by the failed realisation of émigrés’ shifting social status
  •        Comparative approaches to migration studies
  •        Philological approaches to understand xenophobia
  •        Émigrés’ reaction to xenophobia
  •        State-sponsored xenophobia        

Presentations: Individual 15-minute-long presentations followed by a round table conference as an attempt to combine the essence of each presentation.

Organisers encourage interdisciplinary approaches from all academic fields covering a broad range of historical periods, from pre-history to the present day.

2. Majority versus Minority, Integration versus Disintegration: Diaspora Histories

  • Workshop leaders: Bence László Bari (Central European University PhD) and Maren Francke (MA History Humboldt University Berlin)
  • Number of participants: approx. 10
  • Contact info: //

The history of diasporas has its strong and infamous connection to xenophobia; however, it also heavily contains the topic of solidarity. For example, it is clear retrospectively that xenophobia (in the images of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism) resulted in an strong sense of solidarity in the scattered Jewish communities – to put in another way, the hostility of the outside world strengthened their identity in accordance to the mechanisms of social constructions.

On the other hand, if we widen our perspective to the diaspora’s environment as well, we can find out that certain processes were containing elements of both integration – in other words, a project of solidarity – and xenophobia. For example, 19th-century state policies in Europe aimed at the integration of Jews – welcoming the members of the minority within the ranks of the newly formed nations, threatening the traditional community of the diaspora and triggering race-based anti-Semitism at the same time. It can also be mentioned that the infamously harsh policy of the contemporary Russian Emperor Nicholas I is usually viewed retrospectively as a highly anti-Jewish one – on the other hand, it also can be said that the Tsar aimed at the integration of the community based on the principles of Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah) themselves.

The main aim of the workshop is to view the contacts between diasporas and majority societies through various cases presented by the participants. As for theoretical background, all are obliged to read Anthony D. Smith’s ’Zionism and Diaspora Nationalism’ (in Smith, Anthony D.: Myths and Memories of Modern Nations, 1999, Oxford University Press, 203–224.) and John A. Armstrong’s ’Mobilized and Proletarian Diasporas’ (The American Political Science Review, Vol. 70, No. 2, [Jun., 1976], 393–408.) as a start. Both articles place diaspora history into a comparative perspective, with the former dealing with the issue of diaspora-identities and the latter covering the topic of the social-economic connection of diasporas to the majority societies.

The workshop will start with the discussion of this material. After that, the participants will hold debate-starting presentations, attempting to grab the aforementioned aspects. Topics in relation to all historical periods are welcomed in the case that they can be connected to the issues of the workshop. Besides making presentations, participants should make a related piece of secondary literature available for others, with respect to either or both the observed group identity and/or environmental context to help the formulations of meaningful discussions. In the end, we will conclude the results, comparing the represented cases to each other and to the lines provided by the theoretical framework.

3. „Wilds” and „Civilized”

  • Workshop leader: Dániel Molnár (Eötvös Loránd University, PhD) and Dalma Bódai (Eötvös Loránd University, PhD)
  • Number of participants: approx. 8-10
  • Contact info:

The title refers to the eponymous book of Urs Bitterli, where he describes cultural encounters from different ages and from different point of views. We will follow his footsteps, in search of the conceptions of the “others”, the born and impacts of stereotypes, preconceptions. The notion of the foreigner as an incarnation of evil has always been the center around which the common identity accreted and solidified. But in some cases, however, they were set as an example, to intend reforms or positive changes in a country – like Count István Széchenyi put Britain as an example towards the Hungarian society in the early 19th century. We will deal with sources which interpreted part of the world for a public – not just the travelogues, but illustrated maps, films, paintings, or the caged “wildmen” of the collections and Zoos as well. Also, material culture, the artifacts of different cultures and their use, symbolism will be also part of the topic.

Our main questions and topics:

  • Where are the borders of the “we” or the “civilisation”?
  • When and why became somebody a savage/barbarian/pagan, etc?
  • Is “wild” always a derogatory, or can mean something positive?
  • Can an interpretation of a different culture used as a tool to change our society? Can other cultures be examples for “us”?
  • The other as an exotic “entertainment” or subject.
  • When two different culture meets, one regards the other as “inferior” necessarily, or can regard it as equal?
  • How the stereotypes and schemes of the past are part of our today? How deep the roots of today stereotypes are going?

Way of the workshop: 30-45 min. roundtable about Michael Harbsmeier and/or parts of Urs Bitterli’s work about travelogues and cultural encounters. 10-15 min of presentation and 20-30 minutes of discussion. Each member must send a 1-page abstract and at least one „recommended” paper/book chapter/on-line article about her/his topic. It can be either a case study or a theoretical one. (Either available on internet, or attached as a file). We would like to discuss as many case as it’s possible, so if somebody wants to have two short presentation/case introduction, feel free to do.

4. Occupation and Liberation

  • Workshop leader: Tamás Sárhegyi (Pázmány Péter Catholic University, MA)
  • Number of Participants: approx. 8-10.
  • Contact info:

After a long history of hostile affairs in the modern era, two parallel discourses are usually easy to be found in connection to the same stories. History – especially that of the 20th century – is full with wars, conflicts and peace-makings, with narratives and discourses from both the conquerors and the defeated. Although these simple roles are frequently and easily connected to the concepts of ’liberator’ and ’occupier’ depending on whose narrative we examine, it is also important to integrate the paradigms of memory culture and collective memory in this topic. The current workshop is not only about the conflicts and the connected memories of the 20th century: colonial and post-colonial studies, imperial structures and discourses, colonization and the question of inland-targeted colonization are all parts of our discussion. (For example, the Ottoman conquests in the Balkans or liberation as a synonym to judicial emancipation can also be relevant topics for us.)

Suggested themes include:

  •   Discourses and memory strategies from victims and victors
  •  Relations between ‘liberation’, ‘equality’ and ‘justice’
  • Occupation and ethnic conflicts
  • Geographical approaches to understand liberation/occupation in connection to xenophobia and solidarity  
  • Cultural and religious effects of groups encounters
  • Propaganda approaches

The workshop will start with a discussion about the materials given out in advance (40-45 min). The second part will contain 15-minute-long presentations of the participants, followed by a round table discussion to summarize the topic.

5. Power of Propaganda

  • Workshop leader: Dorottya Bartha (Eötvös Loránd University MA)
  • Number of participants: approx. 10
  • Contact info:

Identifying propaganda has always been a problem, but as George Orwell says in The Frontiers of Art and Propaganda “…propaganda in some form or other lurks in every book, that every work of art has a meaning and a purpose — a political, social and religious purpose — that our aesthetic judgements are always coloured by our prejudices and beliefs” . Everyone has their own experience with propaganda, maybe we pretend that we’re cultured enough to ignore it or that we’re above its power, but we have to face it every day. And as historians we must recognize, that ever since the age of god-kings propaganda has been a powerful tool for the rulers of the day, and a powerful force in the everyday life of ordinary people.

The originally term “propaganda” first appeared in the 17th century as a new administrative body of the Catholic Church called “the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide” (Congregation for Propagating the Faith), or informally simply Propaganda was founded.

During the 20th century however it acquired an almost entirely negative meaning, when people experienced how it supports or justifies political actions or ideologies and saw its full power during wars and different totalitarian regimes. But the phenomenon itself wasn’t new, the desire to influence people is almost as old as mankind.

This workshop will focus not only on the history of propaganda but also on the role and power of propaganda with discussing these following questions:

  • What is propaganda? How could it be described, how do people perceive it?
  • What does it mean in different ages/times?
  • How is propaganda responsible in “creating” xenophobia and/or solidarity?  
  • What types and techniques of propaganda exist?
  • How does propaganda appear in literature, science, the fine arts or in posters, movies, architecture, in the use of space, form of commemoration or in the creation of our heritage?

The workshop is open to interdisciplinarity: any and all questions relating to our main topic from every historical period is more than welcome.

The workshop  will start with a roundtable discussion about its topic and the questions above. After that, all participants will hold a short, 10-15 minutes presentation (we kindly encourage everyone to make a PPT or a Prezi) and at the end hopefully we will visit one site related to our topic. (But with the seminar happening in January this will depend more on the weather and less on our enthusiasm)

6. Movie and Xenophobia (Fear of the ‘Alien’)

  • Workshop leaders: Dóra Hegedűs (Pázmány Péter Catholic University), Fanni Juriga (Eötvös Loránd University MA)
  • Number of participants: approx. 10
  • Contact info: /

Unlike science fiction literature, sci-fi cinema was, until the 1970s, increasingly preoccupied with unnatural creatures of various sorts, giving rise to a sub-genre often referred to as “monster movies” or “creature features.” Films featuring alien beings, mutant creatures, or soulless humans were more often than not stereotyped melodramas. Among the common themes of such science fiction movies were: science can often go terribly wrong (especially when scientists are arrogant and/or ‘mad’); it’s necessary to have international cooperation against invaders from outer space or monsters from the Earth; people fear and hate anything alien; there are evil aspects to technology.

“Classic” science fiction cinema (pre-1970s, that is) thus mostly had a xenophobic attitude (one notable exception would be the original The Day the Earth Stood Still). This was generally the case whether movies were actually meant as science fiction or poorly camouflaged allegories to the American fear of Communism, such as Invasion of the Body-Snatchers and The Blob. The monster was a threat to the stability of society. In this way, the genre became a valid way of defining the unknown. By allowing a monster from outer space to symbolically represent something as intangible as Communism, a concrete enemy was defined, one whose evil intentions could be clearly identified and dealt with.

Through the 1970s and 1980s, sci-fi movies concerned with monsters from other worlds began to become more ambiguous in their attitude to the strange creatures. The biased concept of “the monster” was replaced by the less confining concept of “the alien.” A number of movies turned their backs on the xenophobic tradition and presented aliens  as creatures who may mean well or who are just  regular people, some bad and some  good. For instance, in some movies they have taken an interest in us and simply wanted to understand our ways, or they are just stranded here and just want to go home, or they want to help us better ourselves or to reach the next step in our evolution, or they just want a shot at the American Dream, or they just want to have a good time. Some examples include the sci-fi movies Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1976), Superman (1978), E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Starman (1984), Alien Nation (1988), Men In Black (1997), Contact (1997), District 9 (2009), and Paul (2011). The genre gained a non- xenophobic sub-genre. Men in Black is particularly notable because it directly confronted xenophobia as a kind of prejudice. Although there are hostile aliens in the movie, most of the aliens portrayed are hard-working folks who have immigrated to Earth — mostly to America’s Eastern seaboard—to make better lives for themselves.  In   the movie’s opening scene, two MIB agents, posing as agents of the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service), pull over a vehicle filled with Mexican immigrants entering the U.S., and pull aside one whom they identify as an extra- terrestrial alien in disguise. The analogy of the extra-terrestrials being like other groups of immigrants to America (whether they are documented or undocumented immigrants) is carried throughout the movie, and its bias is clearly sympathetic towards the majority of ‘aliens’ in America just trying to make better lives for themselves.

However, the idea of the alien as a threat has not disappeared. The last few decades have brought what is probably the most popular xenophobic science fiction movie series of all, the Alien franchise of movies. They are Alien (1979), Aliens (1986), Alien3 (1992), and Alien Resurrection (1997), plus the two Alien-Predator crossover movies, and the upcoming Alien: Covenant. One might argue that they simply tell the story of a new type of hostile being which threatens humanity as a species. The movies are a lot more complex than that, however. They work on several levels and make a number of statements, one of which is that the aliens may represent humanity’s dark side.

Much less complicated are other recent movies in the xenophobic tradition. Examples include the blockbusters Independence Day (1996) and the re-make of War of the Worlds (2005). There are probably not deeper layers to explore here. Humankind is faced with an alien enemy that threatens to wipe us out, so we must fight to win or go extinct. But the success of the movies proves that fiction that focuses on the alien is as viable as ever.

However, there are more kinds of movies that have a connection to xenophobia topics. This is just my opinion, but I want to know yours too: what you think which movie/film shows certain aspects of xenophobia. Please make a presentation about 15-20 minutes and show it to us.

7. Historiography

  • Workshop leader: Klara Rahel Schwalbe (BA Philosophy and History at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin)
  • Number of Participants: approx. 10
  • Contact info:

Over the last two decades or so, we have come to understand that the world view of a historian necessarily emanates from the world in which he or she lives and that our views of the past may well be conditioned by our relationships to the present. If all history is present history, as R.G. Collingwood famously put it, then the past is a moving spectacle.

The quote above comes from Alice Kessler-Harris, an American historian whose work mostly focuses on the history of women and the history of gender. Feminists’ perspectives on history have been one of many to challenge orthodox accounts of the past. The past is not simply a bundle of facts waiting to be uncovered by right method, rather, historical practice today assumes that what we are studying as historians is dependent largely on the questions we use to address the past. These questions are shaped by the epistemic horizon of the historian and the context he or she lives or lived in, and they change over time. Some fields of study have been reinvestigated time after time, yet they remain to fascinate us because we come to see them differently – and this is not only due to discovering new sources, but because our own contexts shape what interests us. Frequently, historians have been driven to reinvestigate the past due to the hunch or the conviction that there is an “Other” whose momentousness is crucial to understanding what has happened – for instance, when American post-revisionist historians challenged that guilt could be assigned to either the Soviet Union or the USA for starting the Cold War, or when feminist historians started to investigate women’s history. Historical science has come to address different protagonists, to reconsider motives and intentions ascribed to groups and individuals and to investigate macrostructures rather than only protagonists or events themselves. This workshop wants to explore the different ways history has been told, based on questions such as these:

  1. Why study historiography?
  2. How does a historian’s time and experience shape the way s/he tells the story of the past?
  3. How have we come to perceive topics with time distancing us from the events?
  4. How do national/cultural affiliations affect the portrayal of the past?
  5. Do historical accounts of the past share a common core?

Organisational information: Every participant should give a presentation of 10-15 minutes on the historiography of a topic that interests her/him. Every participant is required to hand in an abstract prior to the workshop and will receive a feedback on it. The workshop will include an input on history and a more general discussion, but the discussion should be based on the contributions of the participants!

8. PhD Workshop

This workshop is designed for PhD students (or for Master students who would like to apply for a PhD programme) with an advanced research that deals with the topic of Xenophobia and Solidarity.

Participants who are writing (or about to write) their thesis will present and discuss their research questions, (findings), sources, methodologies and theories used under this specific topic, as well as any questions that have arisen during this process.

The PhD workshop would like to be based on the “work in progress” principle and to offer the chance to its participants for getting feedbacks and critiques from their colleagues (from different countries and fields of History) about their on-going research.

Participants will not only be able to present and discuss about their work in English, but also about struggles and benefits, places to go to start or to do research (libraries, scholarships), fundings and just about ideas that they may have and want to share with the others.