Conference. The 26th European Meeting of Cultural Journals will take place in Conversano (Italy) from 3 to 6 October 2014. This year's meeting, which is by invitation only, is organized by the European network of cultural journals, Eurozine, in cooperation with La Fondazione Giuseppe Di Vagno and Eurozine partner journal Lettera internazionale. More than 100 editors and intellectuals from Europe's leading cultural journals will participate in the event.
Under the heading "Law and Border – House Search in Fortress Europe" this year's conference will address both the EU's refugee and immigration policies, and intellectual partnerships across the Mediterranean (Eurozine Maghreb).
On 3 October 2013, over 360 men, women and children drowned off the coast of Lampedusa attempting to enter Europe. At the time, Italian president Giorgio Napolitano lamented the "slaughter of innocents" and the tragic event – one of many at the gates of Fortress Europe – triggered a new European debate on laws, borders and human rights.
Exactly one year after the Lampedusa shipwreck, we will continue this debate, drawing on the fact that Eurozine is a transnational network, representing views and experiences from all parts of Europe – and beyond. The renewed focus on migrants landing on Europe's Mediterranean shores has added to the difference of perspectives between southern and northern EU countries, which first surfaced with the economic crisis in 2008. Many southern frontier member states – Italy included – feel that they are being left alone to deal with the economic, legal and moral challenges, which come with refugees and asylum seekers. At the same time, the tensions between western and eastern Europe have never left the agenda. Populist politics demonizes immigrants per se; the most recent occasion for xenophobic rhetoric being the lifting of work restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians earlier this year. There is a fortress within the fortress.
These are some of the current issues that will be addressed at the Conversano meeting, taking place in a part of Europe that has a long history of dealing with migration. But we will also ask intellectuals and experts to project current trajectories, trends, problems and possibilities into the future. Does increasing investment in surveillance – which has so far been the standard answer – really go to the core of the matter? More often than not, migrants have no choice but to flee conflict situations, poverty or environmental degradation. This fact will not go away. On the contrary, climate change and increased global inequality will only add to an already volatile situation. So, what is the future of migration?