Tag Archives: Migration

Speech of Dr. Luigi Patronaggio, Chief Prosecutor of Agrigento

I wish to express my gratitude to the organizers of this meeting, all belonging to a remarkable psychological field and I apologize to them in advance for the diversity of my language and for the incursion in “other knowledges”, hoping that this diversity could represent a source of mutual enrichment.

Part 1 – From retributive justice to restorative justice.

In more than thirty years long of professional experience, I have often bumped into the shadows of evil: how much vile darkness there is in a raped child, in a colleague magistrate or in some friends, policemen blown up by mafia-related criminals. Orin those innocent victims blown up while they are going to the beach, to a concert or to watch a football match at the stadium, or even in the bodies of young women, children and men floating in the same sea where new slave traders, unscrupulous merchants, have dragged them with the promise of a better life.

After a pistol shot, a burst, after the cries of the shipwrecked victims on a sinking boat … after all … it remains only darkness and quiet. Where there previously was life and joy, now there is silence. Darkness replaced the light.

To continue the metaphor, dear to people who are familiar with symbols, the legal order of a democratic State is a rational construction, and generally an ideal, geometric and illuminated city. Any time this order is violated the geometric shape is compromised and the lights turn off or dim according to the entity of the crime that has violated the law.

Rationality gives way to emotionality.

From the earliest times the violated law, or better the violated order, is restored through the punishment and the expulsion from the civil cohabitation of the criminal.

Since the earliest times,men have always responded to evil with evil: this happened with the vengeful God of the Jews (… it will take centuries until he becomes the Merciful God of the Christians). It happened with the Romans up to the Islamic world. If you do evil you will receive evil.

But be careful: it is a good thing that the order has laid down certain rules to overcome the rupture and go ahead, otherwise, we would still be stuck to the ordeal.

The Western juridical civilization has provided rules with universal validity:  “Nullumcrimennullapena sine lege”, stated the Latins, the creators of the principle of the strict legality in the criminal law. This principle is still a pillar of the Western civilization. Likewise, the principle of non-retroactivity of the criminal law and the one corollary to the right to a fair trial,are fixed points in our civilization, codified in the European Convention on Human Rights.

And nonetheless, our human and legal sensibility has been more and more refined to get to understand that the violated order doesn’t always recreate through the punishment and the expulsion from the civil cohabitation.

This is not the place where to reaffirm (something too obvious) the necessary re-educative function of the punishment or the rejection of the death penalty. Or even, the tendential unconstitutionality of thelife sentence with the “never ending serve the term of imprisonment”.

What we want to highlight here, is that there are moments and contexts where it is necessary to go beyond the concept of retributive justice and enter the restorative or reconstructive justice: the so called “Restorative Justice” in the Anglo-Saxon world.

A justice that allows the executioner and the victim to communicate and together overcome evil. Only then, the violated order can be recreatedthrough the germination of healthy cells instead of being mutilated of its sick parts through surgical operations.

There are now many examples of this “other” justice, and all are renowned. The best-known of all is perhaps the one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa.

Where the apartheid was brought to an end not through the victory of a faction against another and with the imposition of the criminal law from the winner, but through a process of voluntary participation where was given voice to the victims;where the executioners recognized their own faults and promptly act to fix them; where everybody made every effort to create a new state and where the prosecution intended as a punishmentremained in the background of this process until it disappeared.

Other examples of restorative justice are found in the juvenile criminal law, in the criminal mediation and now, at a European level and in the international legislation, the principle of a “different” justice is also appealed in official documents (see the Council of Europe Recommendation of 1999 on the criminal mediation).

There are also olderexamples, such as the extended amnesty issued by the Italian Minister of Justice Togliatti that, by the pay off of crimes, committed both by the winners and the losers, allowed the Italians to resume apeaceful and democratic dialogue with each other after the civil war following the 8th September 1943.

For instance, the latest laws on the matter of stalking, highlight the need to take actionnot only on the victim but also on the stalker in order to understand its push toward violence and to educate him tothe respect for women and more generally for vulnerable people.

Furthermore, family mediation tries to make a couple, facing an hard communicative time, in a dialogue situation in order to help them solve together their troubles, in the main interest of their children, leaving as a last resort, the authoritarian decision of the judge.

Thus, rebuilding starting from the victims, giving them voice and helping them to dialogue with the responsible for the crimes committed against them.

Then, restoring the order not through the isolation or the state violence, but through the restorative reconstruction where the voice of the victim, in a central position, is able to generate a process of reviewing of the evil by the criminal, with the aid of a third impartial mediator.

Certainly, this is an easy-to-apply paradigm in case of less serious crimes, i.e. a paradigm to apply in case of global and complex situations where the basis for the dialogue still exist.

But, is it possible to apply this paradigm against the international terrorism that threats us inside our houses, or against the humanity and war crimes? The most obvious reply is negative: the answer to the most serious crimes can be only a punitive reply, although with the most evolved forms of the international criminal law with which we have hardly endowed ourselves, since the Nuremberg trial of the Nazi war criminals.

Anyway, the choice of a proper international criminal law appeal doesn’t exempt us from the duty to understand and to face the shadow… to keep satisfying the symbolic language, well appreciated in this forum.

This is not the right place where to discuss the matter of the international criminal law, its entitlement as a non-codified right applicable to any person recognized as a guilty of crimes against humanity, regardless of where the crimes have been committed, or to reject the accusation put forward to that punitive claim as the criminal law of the enemy, as the winner’s right.

It must be stressed that, with the creation of the International Criminal Court (The Hague – July 2002), the western society, once again, has tried to overcome the de-structuring of the civil cohabitation through the rational means of the written law, the certainty of the rules and the punishments, by codifying fair and guaranteed procedures, overcoming a principle that had established after the tragedy of the Second World War, according to which “ in delictisatrocissimispotestjudexjuratransgrendi”, i.e. “in delictisatrocissimisjuratransgrendi licet”.

Principles that unfortunately came again to the surface after the 11th September in USA with the use of legalized torture and the opening of special detention centers, such as Guantanamo.

Moreover, not all States took part to the Rome Convention, and as a matter of fact only 124 States approved the Rome Statute, and 32 signed but not approved the same agreements, such as USA, Russia, China and Israel.

“To Understand” is now then the new imperative to overcome, restart and restore.

Essential condition to face any attack to the civil cohabitation is to nevergive way to irrational and authoritarian temptations. It is also necessary a big effort of all social sciences and the combinationofall methods for the development of a social heuristics.

Who’s then this terrorist that threat us right inside our home, that prevent us from going to a concert, enjoying an exhibition or enjoying the right to democratic participation?

Part 2 – The identity of the terrorist.

Speaking of Mafia, as I already marked before, I defined the mafia-related criminal as an individual without identity who finds it inside the mafia organizationby moving the ideals of this selected group which is in contrast to the others, and whose language is only violence and prevarication. A cooperating witness used to say that before becoming part of “CosaNostra”, he was “nudduimmiscatucùnenti” (Italian translation in the text: I was anyone mixed up with anything).

Likewise, I would like to define the denominational terrorist (and I deliberately adopt this definition, not only to be politically correct) as a weak individual in search of a strong identity.

On the basis of our experience in investigation, we know that the terrorist organizations recruit young people in the occupied territories by the illusion of a status and the flattery of belonging to a selected elite, that the systematic recourse to acts of violence is justified in the name of a higher project; that all those people who don’t belong to the group are considered inferior because they are traitors, unfaithful and corrupted.

They usually wear black uniforms and have a long beard to underline the difference between them and the others. We all know the images of the ISIS troupes on the Internet, with a black background and waving black flags. It’s no coincidence that they choose this color: black is the denial of all colors, as the Nazi aesthetics had already stated about 100 years ago.

Certainly their weak, or better, wounded identity, is the result of centuries of a western ethnocentrism that turns a deaf ear to the claims of the third world countries.

It is no coincidence that terrorism develops in the occupied territories where people live in marginal conditions, but also in the suburbs of the European cities where the cultural integration process hasn’t occurred.

And I want to dispel here a cliché that identifies terrorism with immigration.

And I will dispel it with my long professional experience and the strength of the actual numbers issued by the Italian Ministry of the Interior: the terrorists don’tarrive here with the immigrants on the boats in the Sicilian Canal. Andeven if a terrorist that is running away from the war in Libya, reaches our shores, he doesn’t travel on unsteady boats, but only on comfortable motorboats for deep-sea fishing. It means only under safe conditions.

The terrorists are in our houses, in the suburbs of our cities, in our prisonswhere they often  radicalize themselves. Descendants of past immigration,result of the post-Colonialism period, never integrated into the cultures of the host countries, they are often unemployed andexpress their hate towards the West culture through terrorism.A culture thatthey envy for its level of well-being and quality of life; hatedand denied at the same timebecause unreachable.

The terrorist is often formed on the Internet that deliberately provides him theimage of a fake and virtual world, just and ordered, opposite to the real world, represented as corrupted, that for the aspiring terrorist is a source of desire and frustration at the same time. And even the “holy war” is represented on the Internet as a triumphal advance full of violence and cruelty that the Foreign Fighters will experience and that probably theywill never be able to leave.

I would like to make it clear that terrorism has nothing to do with immigration.

The terrorist is in search of a strong identity, the immigrant instead, has a clear and rooted identity and he is only in search of a country where he can express its identity, denied in his own country because of wars, famine and persecutions.


The terrorist exports blind and angry violence. The migrant instead, only uses violence against himselfby putting at risk his own lifeand the one of his family,undertaking journeys under unsafe conditions,during which they are often physically and sexually abused.

We shouldn’t be scared; we shouldn’t fear the immigrant; we shouldn’t fear the cultural influence because it is only a source of enrichment; we should feed from the culture of acceptance; we should have the ability to distinguish between hate and fear, to recognize other people’s roots, to listen to the other: the victims of this epic phenomenon.

I would like to conclude my speech by going back to the need to listen to the others, the victims, and inviting you to listen to these people coming from the other part of the Sicilian Canal and to pay attention to their stories.

Stories full of pain and violence. They travelled thousands of miles through the desert, in the hands of unscrupulous human traders that drive poor people on overloaded old off-road vehicles letting them to die of thirst in the desert.

Stories of human traders that sell these poor people to the best bidder; migrants that are sold to different military factions, raped, divested of their belonging and harassed; traffickers that extort considerable amounts of money from their victims by blackmailing them with their abandonment; traffickers that cram the immigrants inside sheds located along the coasts of Lybia, under the burning sun and in slavery conditions.Stories of migrant women that quietly accept to be constantly raped by their captors, trying only to avoid unwanted pregnancies. The government forces are absent, legality is absent, there are only armed and violent factions and tribes that live by trading human beings.

These are the voices we must listen to, voices that make us act and qualify what happens on the Libyan coasts and in the Sahara desert as crimes against humanity. Those voices must lead us to  strongly claim the opening of an humanitarian corridor from Libya, under the ONU signatures, to accommodate and redistribute migrants in Europe.

There is a right that must be affirmed as “Human Right”, and as such protected, and that is the right to migration, the right to escape from wars and deportations, to famines and epidemics. It is mandatory to stop military operations, and its political strategies and reversals between the various European nations committed to governing the Canal of Sicily. Stop with political disputes made of ephemeral and uncertain boundaries to be protected.

Pope Francis said: “it is necessary to become builders of bridges not of walls”.

Let’s just look inside, we should not be afraid, but believe in our Western, lay, tolerant, relativistic culture, produced after the dark years of the two World Wars. A cultural model open to multiracial and multi-confessional society. A cultural model we must insist on building a Europe of Nations, of people, not a Europe of banks and markets.

Tea Torbenfeldt Bengtsson, Morten Frederiksen & Jørgen Elm Larsen (eds.), The Danish Welfare State. A Sociological Investigation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)

How is the welfare state transforming in an era of globalization, individualization and hence increased competition, and how are the changes seen on a macro and micro level? This is the main question raised in this book, containing 15 chapters, including a thorough introduction and a conclusion. More specifically, it explores how risk concepts and risk thinking transform the welfare state from responding to and from protecting its citizens from threats putting them at risk, to risks being seen as threats to the welfare state itself.

The book addresses a current discussion in Denmark concerning whether the welfare state, instituted to protect its citizens, is developing into a competition state, mobilizing citizens to take part in the struggle for the state to be competitive. In this picture, so-called non-productive citizens such as the unemployed, chronically ill, or newly arrived refugees, are increasingly seen as risk factors or even threats, and not primarily as humans worthy of protection. According to the editors of the book, Denmark as a modern welfare state endorsing both universal welfare and individual responsibility is an interesting case illustrating this development. Thus, they provide a frame for discussing whether it is worth ‘getting to Denmark’, as Fukuyama claimed in The Origins of Political Order (2011) as a metaphor for democracy.

The state increasingly seems to respond to macro-level threats from globalization and economic crisis with micro-level initiatives; hence the anthology focuses on risks both on a macro- and micro-level. In the opening chapter a thorough introduction is given to four sociological approaches to risk, namely risk society (Beck); risk culture/cultural theory (Douglas); risk control/governmentality (Foucault); and risk as uncertainty/managed uncertainty (Luhmann). These theorists, of whom particularly Beck and Foucault are cited in the book, claim in different ways that risks are socially founded. The explanation of this theoretical framework does not only serve a didactical purpose but also helps to underline how a social understanding of the risks of modernity can be used when analyzing welfare states like Denmark. Whereas the competition state is often associated with neoliberalism and deregulation, the social investment state is associated with reregulation, which several of the chapters analyzing policies on a micro level illustrate. Both the competition and the social investment paradigm however rely on a highly educated, healthy and productive workforce. Accordingly, policies of education, activation, and health become important. However, there may be unintended consequences of such risk management policies. As pointed out in several chapters, new risks may occur especially among the poor and poorly educated classes, who do not respond adequately to activation policies and often meet sanctions and cuts in benefits. Thus, the welfare state may end up reproducing rather than overcoming inequalities.

The book comprises three parts. The first part concerns risks at a macro level, mainly explored comparatively. Hence, in chapter 2, “Denmark from an International Perspective”, Peter Abrahamsen discusses the social investment paradigm drawing the traditional Social Democratic Denmark closer to liberal and continental models. In chapter 3, “Social Investment as Risk Management” Jon Kvist compares social investment strategies of Denmark, Germany and United Kingdom. In Chapter 4, “Employment Relations, Flexicurity, and Risk: Explaining the Risk Profile of the Danish Flexicurity Model”, Carsten Strøby Jensen explains how flexicurity presently is under pressure by cuts in unemployment benefits and decreasing support for labor unions. In chapter 5, “Precarity and Public Risk Management: Trends in Denmark across Four Decades”, Stefan Andrade shows that the Danish labor market has not yet become more precarious than in other European countries, though low- and unskilled workers have become more vulnerable to risks of poverty and unemployment. In chapter 6, “Towards a New Culture of Blame?” Morten Frederiksen shows from survey data, that Danes’ attitudes towards social assistance and unemployment surprisingly have changed very little.

The second part of the book is devoted to risk perspectives on the universal welfare state at a micro level. Thus, in chapter 7 “When Family Life Is Risky Business – Immigrant Divorce in the Women-Friendly Welfare State”, Mai Heide Ottosen and Anika Liversage discuss whether new and unintended risks of exclusion follow divorces in immigrant families. Education is the focus of chapter 8, “The Risky Business of Educational Choice in the Meritocratic Society”, where Kristian Karlson and Anders Holm demonstrate how citizens’ ability to risk management in educational decisions is related to inequality in education. Unintended inequality is also the topic in chapter 9 “Health in a Risk Perspective: The Case of Overweight”, where Nanna Mik-Meyer explores the increased focus on health problematizing an already vulnerable group. A similar tendency is seen in chapter 10, “Failing Ageing? Risk Management in the Active Ageing Society”, Tine Rostgaard explains how the Danish ‘active approach’ to elder care problematizes inactive groups unwilling or incapable of change.

The third and last part of the book stays on the micro level and explores the Danish welfare state’s approach to social problems and marginalized groups. In chapter 11, “Controlling Young People Through Treatment and Punishment”, Tea Torbenfeldt Bengtsson shows how the Danish system for juvenile crime is currently strengthening control influenced by ‘fears of “being soft on crime”’. In chapter 12, “Alcohol and Risk Management in a Welfare State”, Margaretha Järvinen argues that the healthcare authorities’ governmentality perspective on alcohol consumption does not reach certain alcohol consumers. In chapter 13, “The Tough and the Brittle: Calculating and Managing the Risk of Refugees” Katrine Syppli Kohl explores how Denmark’s selection of quota refugees has developed from choosing the weakest to picking those deemed most ‘capable of integration’, thus presenting the background for the Parliament’s 2016 suspension of the entire quota refugee program in Denmark. Lastly, in Chapter 14, “Cash Benefit Recipients – Vulnerable or Villains?”, Dorte Caswell, Jørgen Elm Larsen and Stella Mia Sieling-Monas examine the Danish unemployment policy including evermore severe sanctions as means of encouraging job seeking.

To sum up, the anthology offers a comprehensive overview of the Danish welfare state on a macro- and micro level, convincingly applying risk theories and discussing the social investment paradigm. In an era where publishing in journals is given priority over anthologies, this volume demonstrates that the anthology format is still justified. The volume is highly recommendable to students, scholars, and not least, decision makers.

Paul Caruana Galizia, Mediterranean Labor Markets in the First Age of Globalization. An Economic History of Real Wages and Market Integration (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)

Migratory flows, both legal and illegal, are rising day by day in the Mediterranean countries. This fine book by Caruana Galizia does not deal, however, with today’s recent phase of migration, but with migration of Mediterranean people both within the Mediterranean and beyond between 1820 and 1915.

Continue reading Paul Caruana Galizia, Mediterranean Labor Markets in the First Age of Globalization. An Economic History of Real Wages and Market Integration (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)

A Presentation of IDIN

The network has been established with financial support from NordForsk for four years, 2011-2014, and has initiated in the project period several scientific events. Many researchers and PhD candidates have participated in the activities, and the increasingly diversified realities in the Nordic context have been approached from various angles. Contributions have come from a wide range of disciplines in the social sciences, humanities and economics, and from network members as well as invited scholars. Continue reading A Presentation of IDIN

Nation-building in the Scandinavian Welfare State: The Immigration Challenge


Scandinavia is the area where trust in political institutions and the role of the state is greatest in the world. Political actors in all three Scandinavian countries now compete for the honour of having created and developed the welfare state. It is such a central part of their self-understanding that this political framework can be said to have become a part of the Scandinavian national concept.

Continue reading Nation-building in the Scandinavian Welfare State: The Immigration Challenge

Pieter Bevelander & Bo Petersson (eds.), Crisis and Migration. Implications of the Eurozone Crisis for Perceptions, Politics, and Policies on Migration (Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2014)


The volume addresses some of the consequences for the European Union (EU) of the prolonged economic crisis resulting from the 2008 implosion of Wall Street’s financial wizardry. One particular consequence, or area of concern, is at the heart of the essays included in the volume, i.e. migration, meaning chiefly, though by no means exclusively, the movement of people from outside the EU into the EU. Albeit clear, relevant and useful statistics are offered both in the introductory chapter by the book’s editors (pp. 9-24) and in the second chapter, penned by economics professor T. Hatton (pp. 25-47), theoretical issues of socio-cultural perception are given more room in the book’s studies than empirical issues of demographics, econometrics and/or specific legislative acts.

  Continue reading Pieter Bevelander & Bo Petersson (eds.), Crisis and Migration. Implications of the Eurozone Crisis for Perceptions, Politics, and Policies on Migration (Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2014)

Erik S. Reinert & Francesca Lidia Viano (eds.), Thorstein Veblen. Economics for an Age of Crises (London: Anthem, 2012)

Frequent yet allegedly unexpected crises, the sudden meltdowns of recently praised free-market ‘tigers’, and large-scale social unrest keep surfacing in the post-Thatcherite world of ‘free-trade agreements’, ‘globalisation’, ‘deregulation’, ‘privatisation’, monetary ‘great moderation’ and similar catchwords for the so-called age of ‘neo-liberalism’. Given such circumstances, a few mainstream economists have been willing to reconsider at least some of the premises upon which their discipline has operated and to rediscover the long-forgotten wisdom of a famous but largely uninfluential mind, whose contribution to the discipline’s textbooks has been reduced to a class of odd goods that moneyed people want all the more the costlier they get (i.e. so-called ‘Veblen goods’).

In this perspective, part four (of four) in Reinert’s and Viano’s book contains six exemplary chapters, penned by five seasoned academics and two outstanding young students, that focus upon the usefulness of Veblen’s diverse and different categories of thought for today’s economists, legislators and policy-makers.

Geoffrey M. Hodgson’s “Thorstein Veblen: The Father of Evolutionary and Institutional Economics” compares mainstream economics’ current usage of notions that were crucial for Veblen—such as “institutions” and “evolution” (283)—with Veblen’s original understanding of them. His conclusion is that the former, corrupted by rational choice theory and a simplistic interpretation of Darwinism, has reduced these notions to “apologetic” descriptors within a grossly distorted picture of “market competition” that pleases the adherents of “laissez faire” economics (292). On the contrary, Veblen’s understanding of them is much more nuanced, empirically perceptive, open to revision, and disciplinarily ecumenical. He therefore concludes: “We can still learn a great deal from his writings and build on them for the future.” (292)

Paul Burkander’s “Veblen’s Words Weighed” dissects the full complexity of meaning in a famously convoluted passage in Veblen’s essay “Why is Economics is Not an Evolutionary Science”, showing its author’s commitment to replace “neoclassical economics” (297) with a novel approach that may truly “scrutinise the economic actions of man” (300).

L. Randall Wray’s “The Great Crash of 2007 Viewed through the Perspective of Veblen’s Theory of Business Enterprise, Keynes’s Monetary Theory of Production and Minsky’s Financial Instability Hypothesis” brings three heterodox classics into dialogue, highlighting mutual similarities and differences, so as to provide insights in the structural economic conditions that do actually cause financial crashes like the 2007 one.

James K. Galbraith’s “Predation from Veblen until Now: Remarks to the Veblen Sesquicentennial Conference” makes use of a largely neglected concept in Veblen’s understanding of socio-economic phenomena, i.e. predation, in order to explain the historical origins and the well-tested beneficial functions of regulation within market economies. As he writes: “A functioning structure of regulation is the instrument… of that part of the business community that wishes, and chooses, to play by a common set of rules” that keep market economies from “predatory self-destruction.” (327)

Sophus A. Reinart’s and Francesca Lidia Viano’s “Capitalising Expectations: Veblen on Consumption, Crises and the Utility of Waste” addresses another economic notion, i.e. “expectations” and how Veblen was capable of explaining its centrality in “systemic financial collapses” as well as “patterns of individual consumption.” (329)

Robert H. Frank’s “Thorstein Veblen: Still Misunderstood, but More Important than Ever” takes its moves from Veblen’s enduring textbook relevance in the very specific field of positional goods. Then it proceeds to emphasising his relevance vis-à-vis the much more general claim that “evaluations of all types depend heavily on social context”, hence on the necessity for “economic models” to stop assuming “that consumption decisions take place in social isolation” and start differentiating amongst the ways in which social factors affect economic evaluations and actual choices. (358)

Elements of the fourth part of the book colour the third one, in which three more social scientists explore in as many chapters Veblen’s importance for the field of politics.

Sidney Plotkin’s “Thorstein Veblen and the Politics of Predatory Power” focuses upon Veblen’s understanding of predation in human affairs and its applicability to phenomena such as social coercion, alienation, instrumental rationality, warfare and institutional development.

Stephen Edgell’s “Veblen, War and Peace” tries to fill a gap in the scholarly literature about Veblen, since the economists interested in his work are said to have largely neglected Veblen’s studies on World War I and the ensuing peace agreements. By doing so, Edgell does not only offer an account of this lesser known component of Veblen’s legacy, but also an application of Veblen’s insights to the contemporary conflicts in the Middle East.

Eyüp Özveren’s “Veblen’s ‘Higher Learning’: The Scientist as Sisyphus in the Iron Cage of a University” approaches Veblen’s research from the perspective of Veblen’s assessment of the history of modern sciences, the development of academic institutions, and the failure of the latter to be truly beneficial to society at large. According to Özveren’s “account, Veblen was highly sceptical of the universities’ ability to produce skilled and constructive minds, because of enduring archaic habits of thought, ritual functions in costly displays of wealth and status, enslavement to short-term business goals, and the prevalence of institutional competition over institutional cooperation. Additionally, Özveren’s account offers a depiction of academics as Sisyphus-like figures, who engage in the production of knowledge and fame that are bound to be overcome by the future academics that they nurture and instruct.

Parts one and two of the book belong primarily to ‘Veblenite’ historiography, as they deal with Veblen’s personal biography, his family and cultural background, his education in the US, and his own controversial teaching experiences. Of the six chapters comprised in these two parts, the readers of Nordicum-Mediterraneum are going to find the first four (i.e. part one of the book) of particular interest, for they focus upon Veblen’s Norwegian and Scandinavian background, especially in the context of late-19th-century Nordic immigrant communities in North America. These four chapters being: Kåre Lunden’s “Explaining Veblen by his Norwegian Background: A Sketch”; Terje Mikael Hasle Joranger’s “Valdres of the Upper Midwest: The Norwegian Background of the Veblen Family and their Migration to the United States”; Knut Odner’s “New Perspectives on Thorstein Veblen, the Norwegian”; and Russell H. Bartley and Sylvia Erickson Bartley’s “The Physical World of Thorstein Veblen: Washington Island and Other Intimate Spaces”.

The book hereby reviewed is the result of the conference held in Valdres, Norway, upon the 150th anniversary of Veblen’s birth. It contains essays that differ considerably in length, topic, methodology, and reader-friendliness. Most of them presuppose a modicum of familiarity with Veblen’s work. Therefore, this volume cannot be recommended as an introduction to it. Rather, taken together, the book’s essays offer a very interesting token of Veblen scholarship and an eloquent exemplification of the cross-disciplinary appeal of Veblen’s genius. Furthermore, the essays comprised in the first part of the book reflect extensively upon the Nordic elements in Veblen’s life experience and intellectual interests, and should appeal to our journal’s Scandinavian readership, particularly in Norway.

Jan Philipp Sternberg, Auswanderungsland Bundesrepublik. Denkmuster und Debatten in Politik und Medien 1945 – 2010 (Studien zur Historischen Migrationsforschung, Bd. 26, Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh Verlag, 2012)

Even for me, a migrant from Germany: when I saw the title, I have to admit, I misread it and assumed that immigration would be the topic of the book. German emigrants do not play a big role in the public perception compared to other European countries like Italy or Ireland. Moreover, in Germany, if one does speak of emigrants, then it refers mainly to Germans fleeing from Nazi Germany – as symbolised through Thomas Mann and Berthold Brecht – or, to a far lesser extent, the 19th-century adventurer leaving for the new World.

The nearly 800,000 Germans leaving the Federal Republic of Germany in the years between 1949 and 1961 do not belong to either of these categories. Sternberg, in his well-researched study, looks at the changing public image of emigrants in Germany and the political discourse around their emigration. He covers the year from 1949 until 2010, but his main focus are the years until 1961. After 1961, the numbers of emigrants drop significantly, since in 1961 full employment had been reached in Germany and only after Germany’s reunification in 1989 the numbers rise again.

Sternberg observes that in many respects immigration and emigration are treated in Germany as the two sides of the same medal. For a longer time both emigration and immigration were ignored or even denied as a political reality and, if spoken in the public discourse, treated as a fearful threat to Germany.

Sternberg contributes with his work to a cultural history of West Germany. The changing public discourse on emigration reflects the changes within society. The debate in the 1940s and 1950s was dominated by the notion of loss of human capital. In the new century, we speak instead of the “brain drain”, whereby the “most valuable members” of the German people are turned by the media into a sort of soap opera, since a documentary on emigration has all the dramatic ingredients that a program director could dream of. As Sternberg quotes the woman in charge for “Deutschland ade”: “Where else you find so much interest in adventure, daring and longing for happiness? What else provides stories like this, which carry a risk of failure in itself, tell of sorrow, hope, fear and happiness? All reasons why the SWR [the television channel] is enthusiastic about emigration as a subject. It is material for a serial par excellence.” (p.222)

One just wishes that historians and social scientists may realise this as well and start doing more research on it.

Philip J. Anderson and Dag Blanck (eds.), Norwegians and Swedes in the United States: Friends and Neighbors (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2012)

The collection is divided into four distinct sections—Context, Culture, Conflict and Community—each undertaking a thorough examination of the relationships and interactions between the largest immigration populations from Scandinavian to the United States. As the subheadings suggest, a comprehensive study of the relationship between Norwegians and Swedes in the United States cannot be sustained on comparison alone. Indeed, as Donna R. Gabaccia outlines in the very useful foreword to the book, the narrative of this relationship continues to develop new strains due in part to increasing attention to “inter-ethnic perspectives” concerning American immigration history in general and Scandinavian interactions in particular. It is the developing story of Scandinavian “inter-ethnic perspectives” that the collection aims to uncover and narrate and as a whole this aim is successful. As Gabaccia rightly points out, however, the collection downplays the “importance of contention” between the two groups, by choosing to highlight “the Americanization that brought both groups of immigrates closer to each other.”


The first section on context contains two substantial introductory chapters: “Friends and Neighbors? Patterns of Norwegian-Swedish Interaction in the United States” by co-editor Dag Blanck and “Norwegians and Swedes in America: Some Comparisons” by H. Arnold Barton. The opening chapters strive to broadly describe the identities of each group and the patterns of interactions between them. Blanck develops a useful chronology for grappling with the complex issue, dividing recognizable patterns of interaction into three periods. Blanck emphasizes that although there has yet to be a systematic and comprehensive study of the history of the Scandinavians in the United States, certain patterns emerge from the studies that do exist. When division did occur between Norwegian and Swedish immigrants it was along religious lines, more so than national ones. In matters of the heart, however, Norwegians and Swedes found each other the most desirable and within the political sphere they were each others’ closest allies. Barton’s comparative study of the two groups is admittedly more speculative in nature, but no less productive in results by focusing on the differences between the groups. Some of Barton’s findings are less surprising than others. That the Norwegians were the more nationalist of the two immigrant groups makes sense in term of Norway’s political development over the nineteenth century ending with its independence in 1905. That Norwegian Americans wrote more novels than Swedes was unexpected. As was the conclusion that Swedish Americans generally outpaced their Scandinavian neighbors in the sciences and technology, the visual arts and business. As Barton states, differences such as those I have pointed out are compelling and open new lines of investigation for further research. How to assess why these differences occurred, however, is not as easy or apparent.


The second section examines the central position that diverse aspects of culture held in the Norwegian and Swedish immigrant experience. The following three chapters stood out: Odd S. Lovoll’s opening chapter, “Preserving a Cultural Heritage Across Boundaries: A Comparative Perspective on Riksföreningen Sverigekontakt and the Nordmanns-Forbundet” skillfully depicts how even as societies were started in both Norway and Sweden to promote home colonization, the two societies mentioned in the title were founded to cope with expanding populations outside the nation state. Lovoll’s explanation of how each society aimed to create a notion of worldwide nationality founded on the promotion of cultural retention within emigrant populations is thought provoking, particularly regarding the underlying conservative politics at its core, a point I would have liked to see more thoroughly developed. In “Freedom, Identity, and Double Perspectives: Representations of the Migrant Experience in the Novels of Vilhelm Moberg and O.E. Rølvaag,” Ingeborg Kongslien illustrates that although each author penned works of historical fiction and not historical accounts per se, due to the authors’ personal experiences the novels nevertheless provide ample and reliable insights into Scandinavian emigration, including those historical, psychological, sociological and existential. James P. Leary’s “Är Du Svenske?”–”Norsk! Norsk!”: Folk Humor and Cultural Difference in Scandinavian America” is the highlight of the section as it is rich with familiar jokes that become compelling examples of the development of cultural difference between Norwegian and Swedish Americans. Leary convincingly maps how “Scandihoovian” humor is more about negotiating relationships between Norwegians and Swedes in the United States than about any actual reference to the homeland. Indeed, he illustrates that what often appears as insider teasing is in reality a way to communicate cultural difference to the wider, and often undiscerning, American public.


The third section of the collection identifies areas where conflict arose between the Scandinavian immigrant groups. The first two chapters examine how Norwegian independence affected relationships between Norwegian and Swedish Americans, while the second two chapters scrutinize the complex divides, factions and mergers within the varying denominations of the Lutheran Church in the United States. Jørn Brøndal’s “We are Norwegians and Swedes Now, Not Scandinavians”: The Impact of Norwegian Independence on Scandinavian American Politics in the Midwest” and Ulf Jonas Björk’s “An End to Brotherhood?” Swedes and Norwegians in America Discuss the 1905 Union Dissolution” are complimentary chapters that detail the ramifications of Norway’s independence on political and social alignments between Norwegian and Swedish Americans. The conclusions of both chapters reflect back to my earlier statement concerning the collection overall: conflicts were limited and those that arose were short-lived. As each chapter suggests, pan-Scandinavianism seems to have post- dated any animosity, albeit at varying levels across time and place. Kurt W. Peterson’s “A Question of Conscious: Minnesota’s Norwegian American Lutherans and the Teaching of Evolution” is the stand out piece of the collection. Peterson targets the imperative position that Norwegian American Lutherans held in early twentieth century debates concerning the status of evolution in public schools and by doing so, places current discourse on the subject into a new, and nuanced historical context. The chapter is filled with—what was for me at least—compelling insight into how Lutheran history supported the separation of church and state, thus ultimately rendering null the scheme to legislate the exclusion of evolution in Minnesota’s public schools and universities. Peterson asserts that, “many Lutherans wanted nothing to do with [legislation] because they wanted nothing to do with the Reformed tradition. Their fight was not simply over the teaching of evolution; for them, the heart of their Lutheran theological heritage was at stake.” Equally compelling is the way in which Peterson details the close ideological ties between Norwegian American Lutheranism and the broader Evangelical movement.


The closing section of the collection is a fitting bookend to a study that casts a wide net as it examines both distinct features and broad trends within the Norwegian and Swedish American community. That this section is the largest reinforces the collection’s unifying intentions. Each chapter features a case study of a specific cluster of Norwegian and Swedish immigrants within the United States. The section is rich with description and details, demographics and specifics, whether investigating the nontraditional immigrant position held by many Norwegian and Swedish engineers and architects, as in Per-Olof Grönberg’s contribution, or chronicling the narrative of an insulated Scandinavian enclave on the shores of Lake Superior, as in Philip J. Anderson’s piece. All but one chapter, however, focuses on Scandinavian communities in the Midwest. The exception being Jennifer Eastman Atterbery’s “Scandinavian’s in the Rocky Mountain West: Pragmatic and Programmatic.” Atterbery’s very interesting examination of Scandinavian settlements in Montana and LDS Utah (touching only briefly on California) broadens the scope of what is an otherwise very regional-specific section. In fact, the exclusion of the West is one of the shortcomings of the collection as a whole and I would have liked the same rigorous scholarship that pervades the collection applied to Norwegian and Swedish communities in California, Oregon and Washington, or for that matter, to those in New York and the East. One of the most outstanding features in this section is the way in which personal narrative and family history interjects into large-scale and oftentimes characterless demographic statistics. In more than one instance, particularly in Byron J. Nordstrom’s “Norwegians and Swedes in Willmar, Minnesota, in the Early Twentieth Century,” general and sweeping statistical information is transformed from the tedious to the compelling by granting the dates, numbers, and anonymous names on the page, a narrative. By fleshing out both the communities under study and particular individuals within those communities, the closing section is a fitting end to what is a comprehensive, informative and insightful study of Norwegians and Swedes in the United States. The information presented in this study will most certainly fuel and encourage subsequent research and publication in the field.


Ernesto Kiza, Tödliche Grenzen – Die fatalen Auswirkungen europäischer Zuwanderungspolitik (Münster: Lit Verlag, 2008)

The author structured his work in four parts in order to offer a systematic analysis of the victimization of illegal immigrants. The first part gives an introduction to the theme of international migration, by providing an historical and empirical overview. The second part is dedicated to the theoretical explanation of the empirical facts presented in the first part. The third part examines the reason for international migration and the reaction to it in European countries. In the last part of his 410-page tome, Kiza discusses the impact of the European Union’s immigration policy, by emphasizing its effects on the migrants and, in particular, their victimization.

It is a pity that the author is hiding behind the abstruse jargon of much contemporary political science in order to do something very important: to understand the actions of the different actors in the European immigration policy and the very impact that this policy has on the refugees trying to enter Europe.  There is no necessity describing the fact that the nation-state is the actor in the international system with a phrase like: “Zum einen handelt es sich dabei um die Verfasstheit des internationalen Systems, die auf der Westfälischen Ordnung basiert und als zentrale Prämisse die Existenz souveräner Nationalstaaten postuliert. Somit ist der souveräne Nationalstaat der zentrale Akteur im internationalen System und nimmt daher eine zentrale Rolle bei der Beeinflussung und Formung internationaler Migrationsströme ein.” (p. 17) What has the Westfälische Ordnung to do with migration, except sounding very academic?

Neil Postmann pointed out that that “elite trades — physicians, lawyers, teachers, and scientists — protect their special status by creating vocabularies that are incomprehensible to the general public. This process prevents outsiders from understanding what the profession is doing and why.” Postmann himself did not really oppose this; he saw it as a necessity. In this case, unfortunately, does the “technical gobbledegook” (Postmann) prevent the very people who should be interested in reading about it from getting the message.

It is not understandable why the author is hiding behind a technical language that makes the text inaccessible.  It may be a sign of knowledge at the University of Kassel, where the author handed in his work, to be able to describe migration as an “ubiquitäres biologisches Phänomen” (p. 324), but for me as a reader it sounds just ridiculous. I still see the task of political science as to describe complex political phenomena in an understandable way, so as to provide politics with information and notions whereby to develop policy. It is a pity that the author did not make an effort to turn his PhD thesis into a readable text for its publication as a book. The topic and all the hard work invested into the research would have deserved it.