NoVaMigra Budapest Conference 

Budapest, 10 – 11 March 2020

 NoVaMigra Conference on Populism and Migration

NoVaMigra International Conference on Populism and Migration

International migration is an objective challenge for the EU (and the US) – and it serves as a basis for populist arguments in these regions. The increasing influence of populist forces is a major challenge for the democratic forces of the EU (and the US) – and this circumstance tends to form an obstacle to rational debates concerning migration. International migration, being one of the most important demographical phenomena of the postcolonial world, greatly effects the everyday reality of European countries. International migration within Europe is also one of the most important demographical phenomena of the integrated European labor market. The Middle East-Europe and Africa-Europe refugee crisis is closely tied to the international migration processes. Since the international migration and refugee crisis became the „most visible” phenomenon, and since the anti-migrant feeling is the closest relative of traditional nationalism, the anti-migrant ideology has become the central ideology of some radical political forces.

Budapest is one of the best places for scholars to discuss the interconnections of populism and migration – despite the fact that the number of foreigners (born elsewhere) is quite low in the city that is the capital of a country that is historically the „most migrant-based country in Europe”. Contrary to other European countries, where the personal historical roots of the majority of the population go back to the medieval times, the experience of a newcomer is a reality in most Hungarian families. The greatest international migration of the 1000-1945 period of Europe has transformed the population of the Carpathian Basin, from where the medieval population almost disappeared during the 150 years of Turkish rule, and especially during the Great war between the Ottoman Empire and Western Coalition at the end of 17th century. The population in the central part of the Carpathian basin has become overwhelmingly Hungarian speaking in the 18-19 century, but the majority of names and family stories, and the denominational plurality mirrors the Bavarian, Saxon, Austrian, Slovak, Bohemian, and Jewish roots to this day. The debates among intellectuals, historians, and artists have concentrated on „Hungarianness”, its ethnical or political background, „Western” versus „Eastern”, linguistic or tribal features etc. Budapest itself is the most „migrant invaded” city of pre-1918 Europe. Contrary to Western Europe, where traditional antisemitism, and open hatred of neighboring nations has subsided in the post-1945 decades, the lack of pluralism in Eastern Europe hindered this shift, so nationalism became the central ideology of East European populists in the post 1990 period. Studying the possible connections between traditional and modern populism, this is one of the most interesting aims of the conference organized in Budapest.

However, following the 2015 wave of migration, populism has gained momentum world-wide. In 2016 “populism” was chosen the Word of the Year as the term most often used in the professional press and the media. Political theorists all over the globe have taken notice of this new phenomenon. This conference will focus on the relationship between migration and populism.

The two phenomena, populism and migration show a fairly clear difference in their geographical location: migration is more immediately felt in Western Europe, while in the Eastern parts, where it tends to pose a theoretical rather than a practical problem, anti-migration propaganda takes center stage in the politics of burgeoning populist governments. 

The intention of this conference is to take a long and hard theoretical look at the problems related to these two concepts. Special attention will be given to the following questions: what is the causal relationship between the spread of populism and migration? What role do anti-migration sentiments play in the self-definition of populism? To what extent do the theoretical and political deficits of liberalism contribute to the growing presence and influence of populism today?

Tuesday afternoon,

10 March 2020

Hotel Benczúr
1068 Budapest, Benczúr u. 35.




Introduction and overview


Presentations and discussion
(chair: Richard Szentpéteri Nagy, John Wesley Theological College, Budapest)

14.00: Péter Krekó (Political Capital Institute): Myths about Migration and Tribal Politics
14.25: Jean-Yves Camus (IRIS): The Identitarian Movement in France and in Europe as a Vanguard of the Anti-Immigration Far Right: History and Concepts
14.50: Éva Gedő (Wesley Theological College Budapest): Populism versus Liberalism
15.15: discussion


Coffee break


Presentations and discussion
(chair: Richard Szentpéteri Nagy, John Wesley Theological College, Budapest)

16.00: Attila Melegh (Corvinus University Budapest): “Hungarians Can Be Replaced Only by Hungarians”: Historical-Sociological Analysis of Anti-Migrant Populism
16.25: Catherine Wihtol de Wenden (CNRS): Figures of the Other (In Light of Growing Populisms)
16.50: discussion


Coffee break


Round table discussion
(moderator: Richard Szentpéteri Nagy) 

with Tímea Bagdi (Oltalom Association), Katalin Czottner (John Wesley Theological College), Vera Juhász (John Wesley Theological College), András Kováts (Menedék Foundation), Zoltán Somogyvári (Hungarian Helsinki Committee)



Wednesday Morning,
11 March 2020

Hotel Benczúr
1068 Budapest, Benczúr u. 35.




Presentations and discussion
(chair: Richard Szentpéteri Nagy, John Wesley Theological College, Budapest)

09.00: Francois Boucher (KU Leuven): The Case of Europe: Transnational Populism and the UN Global Compacts on Refugees and Migrants.
09.25: Éva Szénási (University of Szeged): Populist Discourse and Migration in the Policy of the FN/RN: Following Marine Le Pen’s Turn
09.50: János Salamon (McDaniel College Budapest): The New Dispensation. The Popular Uprising against Liberalism 10.15: discussion


Coffee break


Presentations and discussion
(chair: Richard Szentpéteri Nagy, John Wesley Theological College, Budapest)

10.45: Endre Sík (Debrecen University / TARKI): The Moral Panic Button 3.0  
11.10: Alex Demirovic (University of Frankfurt): Authoritarian Populism as a Neoliberal Crisis Management Strategy
11.35: François Boucher (KU Leuven): National-Populism and Anti-Immigration Discourse in France, 2011-2017
12.00: discussion




Novamigra Conference Day 1

Novamigra Conference Day 2

CV of speakers

François Boucher, KU Leuven

François Boucher is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy of the Institute of Philosophy at the KU Leuven. He works as part of the Justice and Migration project since the Fall of 2019. He completed his PhD at Queen’s University, Canada, and has been a postdoc at University College London, Université de Montréal and Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne. His PhD Thesis, titled Open Secularism and the New Religious Pluralism, supervised by Will Kymlicka, develops a liberal conception of political secularism in an attempt to answer the core challenges raised by the new religious pluralism. It argues that “open secularism”, by emphasizing the accommodation of religious diversity within shared public institutions, provides a better answer to those challenges than rival regimes of secularism such as religious institutional pluralism and strict separationist secularism. François works in the field of contemporary normative political philosophy and applied ethics. Most of his work explore different topics related to liberal theories of justice and the accommodation of ethnocultural diversity. He published on topics such as secularism and religious minorities, minority nationalism and federalism and the rights of indigenous peoples. His publications also deal with the ethics of asylum and migration as well as with federalism and distributive justice. He published articles in international journals such as Studies in Philosophy and Education, Criminal Law and Philosophy, Philosophy and Public Issues, Comparative Migration Studies and several book chapters. He is the editor of the political philosophy section of the online Encyclopédie philosophique.

 Jean-Yves Camus, IRIS

 Jean-Yves Camus is a political analyst and a Associate Research Fellow at IRIS. Graduate of Science-Po Paris (field of study: public policy); Master’s degree in Political Science from Sorbonne University (Paris 1); DEA in Contemporary History from Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) (field of study: ‘The French Extreme Left and Israel”). In addition, Jean-Yves Camus was a researcher at CERA (Centre Européen de Recherche et d’Action sur le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme) and in charge of research projects for the PNR 40+ “Left-wing Extremism” of Fond National Suisse (2002-2004). He is also a member of the European Consortium on Political Research and of the Task Force on Antisemitism at the European Jewish Congress. In 2008, he supervised a research project at IRIS for the FRA (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights) on the islamophobic analysis in the French newspapers.

Alex Demirovic, University of Frankfurt

Alex Demirovic is philosopher, sociologist and Germanist and has been professor and guest professor of various German and not German universities since 1990. His main interest of studies has been the critical theory of the Frankfurt school and the scientific, political and cultural development of the post 1945 period. He has worked in different research institutions, including the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt am Main between 1990 and 2001. He is a graduate of the Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main where he started his studies in 1971

Éva Gedő, Wesley Theological College Budapest

Eva Gedő is an associate professor at the John Wesley Theological College. She wrote her PhD thesis in philosophy at ELTE University Budapest in 2006. Her thesis topic was the philosophical analysis of the decisionist political theory of Carl Schmitt. Her main research areas include German historicism, the political philosophy of the Conservative Revolution in the Weimar Republic, populism as political philosophy, theories on fascism. She taught for 12 years at the University of Miskolc, Faculty of Arts, now she is a lecturer at several universities such as ELTE, Károli Gáspár University, and the John Wesley Theological College.

Péter Krekó, Political Capital

Péter Krekó is a social psychologist and political scientist. He is the executive director of Political Capital since 2011. Currently he is a Europe’s Futures Visiting Fellow of the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) and Erste Foundation. During 2016-2017 he worked as a Fulbright Visiting Professor in the United States at the Central Eurasian Studies Department of Indiana University. He focuses on Russian ‘soft power’ policies and political populism and extremism in Europe. He defended his thesis on the social psychology of conspiracy theories at the ELTE University in 2014.He was the co-chair of the PREVENT working group at the EU Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) between 2013 and 2016. Currently, he is an non-resident Associate Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University SAIS Bologna Institute of Policy Research. His books include: The Hungarian Far Right (co-authored by Attila Juhász), Ibidem Verlag 2017 and Fake news and conspiracy theories, 2018. He is a regular commentator in the international media. He is the owner of Political Capital Institute. 

Attila Melegh, Corvinus University Budapest

Attila Melegh is senior researcher at the Demographic Research Institute, Central Statistical Office. Budapest, and associate professor at the Institute of Sociology and Social Policy, Corvinus University, Budapest, as well as professor at Tomori Pál College, Kalocsa. He is a recipient of several Academic Honors, Professorships and Awards. His books include: On the East/West Slope. Globalization, Nationalism, Racism and Discourses on Central and Eastern Europe. New York-Budapest, CEU Press, 2006.

 János Salamon, McDaniel College Budapest

János Salamon is professor of philosophy at McDaniel College, Budapest, a former associate professor of philosophy at Moholy-Nagy University of Arts and Design Budapest. He taught at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, at St. Peter’s College, Jersey City, New Jersey and at the diplomat school of the Foreign Service Institute, State Department, Washington D.C. His books include A magány metafizikai struktúrája (The Metaphysical Structure of Solitude), Budapest: Attraktor, 2003 and A szív arisztokratikus szokásai (The Aristocratic Habits of the Heart), Budapest: Kalligram, 2016 

Endre Sík, ELTE University / TARKI

Endre Sík is external researcher at the Centre for Social Sciences, Budapest, Institute for Sociology, and professor emeritus at ELTE, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Minority Studies, Budapest. His teaching experience include:  2003 – EU identity – Tomsk State University, Tomsk, 2005, 2006 – Sociology of Migration EIUC, Venice, 1996 – Second Economy in Post-Communism, CEU, Prague, 1994 – The Sociology of the Informal Economy, Notre Dame University, and 1990 – Sociology of organisation, University of Toronto. He has been a fellow of several research centres across Europe and a recipient of several research grants. 

Éva Szénási, University of Szeged

Éva Szénási is professor emerita at the Faculty of Education at the University of Szeged. Her fields of study are the history of French political ideas and the analysis of some theoretical questions related to the European integration. Her publications are primarily based on these topics. Her latest study ‒ to be published in the History of contemporary France ‒ is a deep dive into the history of French radical parties. She is also a translator from French. Between 1993 and 1994, she worked as a visiting professor at the Institute of Political Studies at the University of Lausanne. In 2000, she gave lectures at the Institut of Political Studies of Paris in the frame of the doctoral school studying post-communist countries. She is an editor of the Varietas Europaea book series at L’Harmattan-Hungary publishing house. 

Catherine Wihtol de Wenden, CNRS

Catherine Wihtol de Wenden is a political scientist and a lawyer, Emeritus Director of Reearch at CNRS. She graduated at the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po) and the University Paris I. (Panthéon Sorbonne). She got her PhD in Political Science (1986). Author of numerous works and articles published in French and English, especially in peer-reviewed journals. She was president of the Research Committee Migration of International Sociology Association (2002-2008) and participated in a working group directed by Mayron Weiner in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees during the presidency of Madam Ogata. She is also teaching at Sciences Po. Her latest books are Atlas mondial des migrations (Autrement, 2018), Géopolitique des migrations internationales (Eyroles, 2019) and Un monde de migrants (CNRS Éditions, 2019)

Location of the meetings

Hotel Benczúr

1068 Budapest, Benczúr u. 35.

  • NoVaMigra Conference on Populism and Migration – Part 1

Contact Information
(on 9th-11th March 2020)

Richard Szentpéteri Nagy  ( ) +36 70 2585115

Directions from airport

By train: there is no direct train connection between the airport and city centre but bus No.200E is available from Liszt Ferenc International Airport to Nagyvárad tér. Metro M3 from Nagyvárad tér metro station to Deák Ferenc tér. M1 (direction: Mexikói út) from Deák Ferenc tér to Bajza utca. From Bajza utca metro station 5 minutes walk to the hotel.

By bus: Bus No. 100E from Liszt Ferenc National Airport to Deák Ferenc tér. Metro M1 (direction: Mexikói út)  from Deák Fernc tér to Bajza utca. From Bajza utca metro station 5 minutes walk to the hotel.

Directions from the railway station: Tram No.4 or 6 from Nyugati pu railway station to Oktogon.  M1 (direction: Mexikói út) from Oktogon to Bajza utca. From Bajza utca metro station 5 minutes walk to the hotel.

Or: Metro M3 from Nyugati pu. railway station to Deák Ferenc tér. Metro M1 (direction: Mexikói út) from Deák Fernc tér to Bajza utca. From Bajza utca metro station 5 minutes walk to the hotel.

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