Roundtable: Refugee movement and right-wing populism


14 November 2015 from 3pm–5pm

at the Rote Bar of the Volkstheater in Vienna

During the Serbian November, and in the context of their CONFLICT ZONES networkprogramme, the UTE organized a roundtable dealing with the burning issue of refugees and (right-wing) populism. Taking place in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, the conference was contextualized in the light of the events and accordingly took these into account.

The high number of refugees who have reached Europe since the summer has led to a political crisis and a crisis of supply. Where the state fails, civilians take over. Their solidarity as well as the pressure due to the refugee movement briefly led to the opening of Europe’s borders, while the (far) right has attempted to arm their interior and exterior borders. The way Europe reacts to the arrival of refugees decides the tenets that the community of states will agree upon.

Under the moderation of journalist Corinna Milborn, Chantal Mouffe, Political Scientist from the University of Westminster; Anton Pelinka, Political Scientist from the Central European University in Budapest; Matti Bunzl, Director of the Wien Museum; Daniela Pichler, Head of the Research Team and Spokesperson of Amnesty International in Austria; Michael Genner, Chairman of Asyl in Not; and Ibrahim Amir, author of the play about the Viennese refugee protests Homohalal, shared their expert opinions on the refugee crisis in Europe in general, and with respect to the recent terrorist attacks.

The speakers, while disagreeing on some aspects, agreed to distinguish between two prevalent emotions amongst people: fear and hope; the latter being the optimism that things could get better, the first being the pessimistic suspicion that things could get worse, an emotion deeply exploited by right-wing populism. While right-wing populism splits society in ‘us’ versus ‘the immigrants’, there’s also such a thing as left-wing extremism, which promotes a different kind of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’, namely the intellectually enlightened minority who morally condemns the stupid uneducated voters of right-wing parties. Right-wing refugee-baiting and left-wing refugee-welcoming are two extremes that will always co-exist in a debate on refugees. In fact, these extremes are also seen amongst immigrants themselves, as the new immigrants pose a threat to their hard-earned position in society. It’s a matter of education not to let the extremes become rampant.

The speakers reached a consensus that after the attacks in Paris it is important to highlight that the refugees are escaping from the very same terrorists that are threatening Europe today. And while fear of refugees and terrorism is leading to the closing of borders within Europe, it is paramount to stay alert and de-nationalize the problem by acting as one united Europe and protecting our external borders.


Listen to the Radio Broadcast

by the Austrian Radio ORANGE 94.90 | Radio Dispositiv



Interviews & Reviews from the CONFLICT ZONES eZine


Right-wing populism- A quest for an Alternative

Interview with Chantal Mouffe

by Sergio Lo Gatto

From Serbia to Syria

by Inês Nadais

Postcards from Vienna... in a Serbian November

by Sergio Lo Gatto

About the UTE online theatre magazine

Expressing the views of young cultural journalists strongly involved in the artistic life of their country, the articles displayed in the CONFLICT ZONES online theatre magazine intend to reflect the original point of view of one single author concerning the theatre sector in his/her country as well as abroad.

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In the context of the CONFLICT ZONES networkprogramme of the UTE

Supported by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

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