George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Malta: Bridging Differences: Migration in the Mediterranean

Boats in Malta Harbor

This course focuses on the challenge of bridging differences (cultural, racial, economic, religious, gender, refugee status, etc.) in light of recent migration to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea and other routes.  Migrants fleeing direct and structural violence encounter opposition to their presence in European countries and have difficulty achieving stability and acceptance in host nations. Differences are frequently the site of misunderstanding, tension, and conflict between migrants and host country residents and within and across these and other social groups.

A variety of integration initiatives have been mounted to prevent and manage conflict by bridging differences and, ideally, fostering constructive relationships. Whether in the form of community dialogues, multicultural festivals, or peacebuilding skills workshops, integration initiatives mounted by NGOs and migrants themselves are on the increase.

Many questions about integration initiatives remain unanswered, such as: What legal, social, and political (among other) divisions keep groups and individuals apart in societies with significant populations of recent migrants? How do migrants and residents themselves understand the divisions? What kinds of integration initiatives are commonly mounted? Which ones hold the most promise for bridging differences that might foment conflict? The development of integration initiatives will only increase as populations of migrants settle in European nations; thus, identifying and implementing constructive approaches, informed by the conflict field, will remain important for years to come.

Led by Dr. Susan Hirsch