East-Central European Migrations and Mobilities in the Modern Age

Publication date 12.03.2024

Authors: Dr. Oleksii Chebotarov, Dr. Vladyslava Moskalets

East-Central Europe played a vital role in the global history of mass migration and experienced an enormous variety of mobility processes in the long 19th and short 20th centuries. For instance, mass emigration from the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires and the Soviet Union, human trafficking, labor migration, forced migration during WWI and WWII, refugee crises and asylum, travel, and professional mobility. The voluminous scholarship on this chapter of migration history has lots of gaps and, notably, is almost absent from history curricula. This introductory course broadens our lens to examine the role of migration and mobility for the places where it occurred as well as the experiences of migrants, displaced persons, refugees, and travelers.

Questions we will explore include: What are the factors of migration, and who are the actors of migration processes? What are the mechanisms of migration and mobility? How do politics and economics shape migration? How does migration connect and change distant locations? How do wars, instability and violence change the nature of migration? How much can gender, race, or class affect migration processes? Who creates migration narratives, and whether we can hear the voices of migrants themselves? What is the place of historical and contemporary Ukraine on the world migration map?

To pursue these questions, we will acquire a toolbox for making the migration and mobility history. This involves analyzing and defining how people, moving once in a lifetime or moving all their lives, became a part of mass processes that connect different places worldwide. We will look not only at the global scales and figures but also at the everyday practices that were eliminated, adopted, shared or co-created by people on the move. This semester-long journey in migration history will help you gain qualifications that will be useful for your future work as an academic, teacher, or practitioner.

All students are expected to read assignments, participate actively in discussions on readings, and submit the course paper. The final grade will consist of the student’s activity during classes and guest lectures (40%), student presentation (10%) and the course paper (50%). The paper (research or exploratory essay) must integrate the scholarship studied in the course and be a self-authored original text in English, 2,000–3,000 words long.

Department of History, Ukrainian Catholic University, Fall Semester 2022/23

Course program

Introduction and Groupe assignment

Mechanisms of Migration and Mobility

Sending, Transit, and Receiving Societies

Forced Migration and Refugees

Labor Migration

Travel and Tourism


Diseases and Epidemics

Mini-workshop on migration museums

Guest lecture 1. Aleksandra Jakubczak (POLIN Museum, Columbia University): “A trafficker of women or an emigrant-smuggler?”: The History of Illegal Jewish Migration from Eastern Europe between 1880 and 1930

Guest lecture 2. Tomasz M. Jankowski: Quantitative Methods in Migration Research. Case Studies from Ukraine and the Netherlands

Guest lecture 3. Martin-Oleksandr Kysly (Kyiv-Mohyla Academy): The long way home. The return of Crimean Tatars to their homeland as a return migration

Guest lecture 4. Marjolein Schepers (Catholic University Leuven): Colonial Spaces of Arrival: Congolese migration to Belgium in the 20th century

Guest lecture 5. Ewa Węgrzyn (Jagiellonian University, Krakow): The Immigration of Polish Jews to Eretz Israel in XIX and XX century

Related modules (1)

The end of the 19th century through the beginning of the 20th century is known as the period of mass migration from Europe to other continents, when more than 55 million people changed their place of residence. In particular, this process captured the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires, where a difficult economic situation, job shortages, and persecutions stirred various groups of the population to leave. Such groups included both Ukrainian and Polish peasants, and Jews from urban centers who were small-scale craftsmen or workers. Most often, they moved to the United States, Canada, Argentina, and Brazil, where labor was needed at factories or farms.
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