Upcoming events

Tuesday, June 19, 16:00-18:00, Bushuis/OIH E1.01E

Geert Janssen (UVA, history) : The Invention of the Refugee in Early Modern Europe

Abstract

Geert Janssen will talk about his new project on the invention of the refugee. What is a refugee and when, why and how do societies create them? Janssen’s project seeks to answer these questions by focusing on the agency of displaced minorities in early modern Europe (16th-18th centuries). Integrating historical, legal and social scientific approaches to migration, the project proposes that the term ‘refugee’ frames a particular type of migrant as a victim of repression. It hypothesises that religious dissenters in Reformation Europe were the first to develop and exploit this terminology. By pursuing a cross-confessional and transnational approach, the project will be the first to map the early modern invention of the refugee and gauge its long-term societal impact. Shifting away from traditional approaches to refugees as passive victims of conflict, this project will open up a new field in historical studies that views refugees as formative agents of social, religious and political change.

Biography

Geert Janssen has been working and teaching in the History Department at University of Amsterdam in 2013, after teaching early modern history at Oxford, Cambridge and Leiden. He has a broad interest in European history of the early modern period  (16th-18th centuries), in particular its political and religious culture, and the history of migration. Much of his work is concerned with the Low Countries, including the Dutch Revolt and the Dutch Golden Age of the seventeenth century.

Marc de Wilde (UVA, law) : Vitoria, Grotius, and the Birth of the Modern Concept of Asylum

Abstract

Hugo Grotius is often identified as founder of the modern concept of asylum. This paper argues that Grotius’s most innovative contribution was not his theory of asylum, but his concept of expulsion, and more particularly, his notion that a permanent refuge should be offered to foreigners who had been collectively expelled on religious grounds. The paper shows that Grotius’s notion was informed by his own experiences as a lawyer advocating the admission of Sephardi Jews, who had been expelled from Spain and Portugal, to the Dutch provinces. More particularly, it was based on a reinterpretation of Francisco de Vitoria’s concept of the ‘law of hospitality’ and the duty to admit foreigners irrespective of their religious beliefs. Reinterpreting Vitoria’s concept, Grotius was the first to formulate a theory regarding the state’s responsibility to offer a permanent refuge to victims of (religious) persecution.

Biography

Marc de Wilde is head of the Department of General Jurisprudence at the University of Amsterdam. His research interests include the history and theory of the rule of law, human rights, the state of exception, emergency powers and constitutional change. He is currently teaching courses in European Legal History, Legal Philosophy and the History of Legal Theory.