PUMOMIG International Conference: Theodoros Fouskas, “Solidarity versus hostility: Pro-migrant and anti-migrant citizen mobilizations in Greece since 2015” [25 Oct. (24-25 Sept.) 2019, Brussels


Public opinion, mobilizations and policies concerning asylum seekers and refugees in anti-immigrant times (Europe and Belgium)

Global challenges and local solutions

24 and 25 October 2019 – Royal Stables of Brussels – Place du Trône 4, 1000 Brussels


Recent events in Europe, from the beginning of the so-called “reception crisis” to the present day, illustrate that strong polarizations mark the way cities responded to the arrival and transit of asylum seekers. Local contexts often showed autonomy and contrasted national trends in terms of both opinions and practices. In some instances, local politicians and citizens refused to take responsibility over reception duties assigned by their national government, and even rejected the arrival of asylum seekers to their territory. In other cases, local actors opposed restrictive state policies and anti-immigrant trends, showing specific ideas of hospitality and developing field practices that go far beyond initial reception. In these instances, local governments and agencies, as well as CSOs, NGOs and the overall ecosystem of cities proved to be fundamental not only in the support of short-term management of reception structures, but also in the processes of social, economic and cultural integration of de facto refugees.


Day #1 – 24 OCTOBER 2019

The conference will gather scholars and researchers in the field of migration and asylum, with the aim to open debate around the findings of the research project: Public opinion, mobilizations and policies concerning asylum seekers and refugees in anti-immigrant times (Europe and Belgium) – PUMOMIG, funded by the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO/BRAIN-be). The research was conducted between 2017 and 2019, and coordinated by a research team involving three Belgian universities (ULB, ULiège and KULeuven), as well as research partners in five European countries: Hungary, Italy, Germany, Greece and Sweden. PUMOMIG’s main objective is to gain an in-depth understanding of the factors and social dynamics influencing local attitude polarizations towards refugees and asylum seekers in contemporary societies. To this end, PUMOMIG observed and analyzed contextual forms of mobilization by local populations in favour of or against newcomers. Fieldwork has been conducted in the areas of reception centres and places with high concentrations of asylum seekers, including occupations and informal settlements. Participants included local politicians, actors in the reception structures, civil society organizations, mobilized citizens and mobilized migrants. PUMOMIG’s approach has embraced quantitative and qualitative methodologies, ethnography and field observation (read more).

The research book “The refugee reception crisis in Europe. Polarized opinions and mobilizations” will be presented during the first day of the conference.


Day #2 – 25 OCTOBER 2019

By bringing together scholars in the field of migration and asylum, as well as local, national and international (EU) actors in the management of the refugee issue and the reception of asylum seekers in Europe, the conference aims to open debate on alternative localized practices and solutions. Members of local governments, institutions and agencies, NGOs and Civil Society Organizations, EU policy makers and stakeholders, international foundations and field actors will participate in three thematic roundtables.

  • The role of local political authorities and institutions

What is the role of local political institutions and actors? What is the impact of local political trends and discourses on the decision-making process and policy evaluation at the national and EU level? What is their impact on the implementation of practices and the development of alternative solutions by civil society actors? The roundtable will gather local politicians and policy makers with the aim to share and discuss localized experiences of management of refugees and asylum seekers, highlighting cooperation and conflicts with regional, national and supranational governments, as well as with the civil society in their jurisdiction.

  • The role of CSOs and citizen initiatives

What is the role of local Civil Society Organizations? Do they have an impact on the different levels of governance on matters concerning reception and integration policies? Do citizen initiatives set up formal organizations and structures to participate in the reception and integration of asylum seekers? The roundtable will gather field actors and representative members of organizations, collectives and platforms who will present their experiences of solidarity and reception. The aim is to highlight their relationship with both political authority and citizens in their localities.

  • The perspective of European actors

What can EU actors do to stimulate the dialogue between different levels of governance? How can they contribute to the development of policies and strategies aimed at creating a favourable environment for local governments and actors to develop and implement solutions to the refugee issue? The roundtable will gather representatives of EU institutions as well as members of international NGOs and foundations active in the migration and asylum domain. The aim is to stimulate debate on possible shifts in EU policy-making and legislation towards the local dimension of governance in European cities in order to support locally-driven, durable and sustainable strategies to manage the refugee issue.


Attendance is free of charge but places are limited.  Registration is required and includes online access to the conference programme, free PDF copy of the book on request, welcome reception, buffet lunches and refreshments. Register now. The full programme and timetable will be available soon. The conference main entrance will be from Place du Trône 4, 1000 Brussels.  More info on the conference venue can be found here.



Sarah MAZOUZ (Université de Lille / CNRS/CERAPS)

A Sense of Hospitality? On the Political Ambivalence of the “Willkommenskultur”

Moritz BAUMGÄRTEL & Tihomir SABCHEV (Utrecht University / Cities of Refuge)

Cities of Refuge: Human Rights and the Role of the Local Level in the Reception and Integration of Forced Migrants

Robin VANDEVOORDT (Oxford University / Refugee Study Centre)

Civil solidarity in an era of neoliberal migration policies. Rethinking refuge through grassroots initiatives

Maurizio AMBROSINI (University of Milan)

The imaginary invasion: how the discourse on the “refugee crisis” has impacted Italian politics and society

Theodoros FOUSKAS (University of West Attica)

Unravelling solidarity and hostility: Mobilizations concerning migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in anti-migrant times in Greece

Pieter BEVELANDER & Anders HELLSTRÖM (Malmö University / MIM)

Pro- and Anti-Migrant Mobilizations in Polarized Sweden

Sophie HINGER (Osnabrück University / IMIS)

Divided Reactions: Pro- and Anti-migrant Mobilization in Germany


European citizens’ opinions towards immigration and asylum policies. A quantitative comparative analysis

Elsa MESCOLI (ULiège) & Marije REIDSMA (HIVA / KULeuven)

Mobilisations and opinions about and of asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented migrants in Belgium: frames, motivations and actions

Keynote Speaker: David FITZGERALD (UC San Diego / Center for Comparative Immigration Studies)

Refuge beyond Reach: How Rich Democracies Repel Asylum Seekers



1. The role of local political authorities and institutions

  1. Lefteris PAPAGIANNAKIS (City of Athens)
  2. Lieven DEHANDSCHUTTER (City of St-Niklaas)
  3. Rudy VERVOORDT (Bxl-Capital) TBC
  4. Cosimo PALAZZO (City of Milan)
  5. Willy DEMEYER (City of Liège) TBC

2. The role of CSOs and citizen initiatives

  1. Carine THIBAUT (CNCD 11.11.11)
  2. Eef HEYLIGHEN (Vluchtelingenwerk VL)
  3. France ARETS (comité soutien VSP)
  5. Adriana COSTA SANTOS (BXLRefugee)
  6. Roger MARTINEZ-DOLZ  (Belgian Red Cross)

3. The perspective of European actors

  1. Anna Lisa BONI (Eurocities)
  2. Geertrui LANNEAU (IOM)
  3. International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD)
  4. Shannon PFOHMAN (CARITAS Europa)
  5. EU Commission TBC
  6. Pierre VERBEEREN (Médecins du Monde)



ECPR General Conference 2019: Theodoros Fouskas, “Pro-Migrant and Anti-Migrant Mobilisations in Greece: Citizen Initiatives of Solidarity and Hostility Concerning Migrants, Asylum Seekers and Refugees [7 Sept. (04-07 Sept.) 2019, Wrocław, Poland

Public Attitudes and Forms of Mobilisation Concerning Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the EU

Civil Society, Migration, Asylum, Mobilisation, Public Opinion, Activism, Policy-Making, Refugee
Panel Number P304
Panel Chair
Alessandro Mazzola Université de Liège
Panel Co-Chair
Rea Andrea Université Libre de Bruxelles
Panel Discussant
Anna Krasteva New Bulgarian University

07/09/2019 11:00
Building: (Building A) Faculty of Law, Administration & Economics Floor: 3rd floor Room: 318

Since the beginning of the so-called “refugee crisis” in 2015, the problematization of international migration and the securitization of EU external borders, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, created the conditions for strong polarization of public opinion towards migrants in general, and those fleeing from armed conflicts or other crises and seeking for asylum in particular. This is reflected in the way European civil society communities have mobilized, and political institutions have dealt with the issues of reception and integration of refugees and asylum seekers. Social and political actors including politicians and policy makers, NGOs and CSOs, as well as activists, mobilized citizens and also mobilized migrants, have adopted a variety of discourses, strategies and practices ranging from extreme-often violent-opposition, to unconditional support.

The aim of this panel is to discuss the factors and social-political dynamics influencing the strong polarization of opinions, discourses and practices towards refugees and asylum seekers in contemporary societies in Europe. It focuses on the perception of the European population about refugees/asylum seekers and vice versa, as well as the forms of mobilization (pro-/against-) and the practices of reception and integration developed since the beginning of the so-called reception crisis in 2015. The panel gathers quantitative and qualitative research on public opinion, on- and off-line discourses, ethnographic research on attitudes and practices, on the interactions at the local level between the majority populations and newly arrived migrants, and on the policy structure developed to provide reception and integration. Fieldworks cover different countries in Europe including: Belgium, Greece, Germany and Slovenia.

Part of the papers included in the panel concern research conducted within the project “Public opinion, mobilisations and policies concerning asylum seekers and refugees in anti-immigrants times (Europe and Belgium)” PUMOMIG, funded by the Belgian office for Political Research BELSPO, within the framework of BRAIN-be programme.


Paper List

Attitudes towards Refugee Policy in a Divided Europe: A Multilevel Analysis View Paper Details
Citizens to Stay: Pro- And Anti-Migrant Mobilisations in Polarised Sweden View Paper Details
Moving Civil Society: Pro- And Anti-Migrant Mobilisations in Germany’s ‘Long Summer of Migration’ 2015 View Paper Details
Pro-Migrant and Anti-Migrant Mobilisations in Greece: Citizen Initiatives of Solidarity and Hostility Concerning Migrants, Asylum Seekers and Refugees View Paper Details
Reception Policies for Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Belgium: Dynamics in Decision Making View Paper Details