Conference. “Twenty Years under the Channel, and beyond? Rethinking Migrations and Borders”, 12 Oct., London

Twenty Years under the Channel, and beyond? Rethinking Migrations and Borders

Vingt années sous la Manche, et au-delà ? Repenser les migrations et les frontières 


Rails et histoire invites you to register and participate in (free registration) / Rails et histoire vous invite à vous inscrire et à participer au colloque :


Fourth International Conference

Roundtable held in Brunel University London, Uxbridge campus, Darwin Room, Hamilton Suite

Wednesday, 12 October 2016, 13:45-18:00


Quatrième rencontre internationale

Table ronde accueillie par l’Université Brunel de Londres, campus d’Uxbridge, Salle Darwin, Hamilton Suite 

Mercredi 12 octobre 2016 de 13 h 45 à 18 h





13:30/13 h 30     Registration and Welcome / Accueil des participants

13:45/13 h 45     Opening/ Ouverture

David AZÉMA, Chairman, Rails et histoire

Dr Naomi PERCIVAL, Special Collections Librarian, Channel Tunnel Archive, Brunel University

14:00/14 h Session 1A new Border under the Sea / Première séance : Une frontière construite sous la mer

Opening speech and Chair/Allocation d’ouverture et présidence :

Professor Michel FOUCHER, Titulaire de la chaire de géopolitique appliquée, Collège d’études mondiales, Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme

Discussant / Rapporteur : Dr Alison CARROL, Senior Lecturer in European History, Department of Politics, History & the Brunel Law School, Brunel University London, member of the steering Committee for the roundtable

l Dr Federica INFANTINO, Chargée de recherche FNRS, Université libre de Bruxelles, Groupe de recherche sur les relations ethniques, les migrations et l’égalité (GERME), and Junior Research Fellow, Wolfson College, University of Oxford

l Dr Katja SARMIENTO-MIRWALDT, Senior Lecturer in Politics, Brunel University London

15:00/15 h           Discussion and Chair conclusion


15:30/15 h 30 Session 2: Migration trends across the Channel / Deuxième séance : L’évolution des migrations Transmanche

Chair/Sous la présidence de : Professor Helen DRAKE, Professor of French and European Studies, Jean Monnet Chair in European Integration, Chair of UACES, Loughborough University, Member of the Scientific Board of Advisers for the Programme Twenty years under the Channel, and beyond?

Discussant / Rapporteur : Dr Laurent BONNAUD, Programme manager, member of the steering Committee for the roundtable

l Dr Daniel GORDON, Senior Lecturer in European History, Edge Hill University

l Dr Ed NAYLOR, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, School of Languages and Area Studies, University of Portsmouth

16:30/16 h 30     Discussion and Chair conclusion

Conclusion            Dr Alison CARROL

17:00/17 h           Wine Reception hosted by Brunel University

18:00/18 h           End of the conference / Fin de la journée





Publicity / Publicité des débats :

A summary of the proceedings will be published online / Un résumé des débats sera publié sur le site de Rails et histoire.

Audio records of the roundtables will be available online – the audience discussions will not be published / L’enregistrement des tables rondes sera accessible en ligne – les débats qui les suivent ne seront pas publiés.

l Registration through our website / Inscription sur notre site Internet

Registration is free on a first come-first served basis but must be arranged in advance: / Entrée gratuite dans la limite des places disponibles, inscription obligatoire :

l Contact

Contact for the conference and for the Twenty years under the Channel, and beyond?

Programme / Secrétariat du colloque et coordination du programme Vingt années sous la Manche, et au-delà ?  :

l Conference venue / Lieu du colloque

Brunel University London

Kingston Lane, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UB8 3PH, Royaume-Uni

By car/En voiture : Sat Nav users: Please enter the road address (Kingston Lane) and the postcode (UB8 3PN). You will be directed to Kingston Lane, which is close to our main entrance. From there, please follow the signs

By underground / Par le métro: Take the westbound Metropolitan Line to Uxbridge (approx. 40 mins from Baker Street station). Or take the westbound Piccadilly Line to Uxbridge (approx. 45-50 mins from Earl’s Court station). You can then take a taxi, bus or walk to campus (one mile).

By train/ Par le train : West Drayton (First Great Western Link) is the nearest mainline station, approx 1.5 miles from the campus. Services run from London Paddington (approx. 20 mins journey time) or from the West (Bristol). West Ruislip Station (Chiltern Railways) is the mainline service from London Marylebone (approx. 20 mins journey time) and the North (Aylesbury, Banbury and Birmingham) and is approx. 4 miles from the campus.


Vingt années sous la Manche, et au-delà ? / Twenty years under the Channel, and beyond? // Un programme de recherche et d’événements à l’occasion du 20e anniversaire de la liaison ferroviaire transmanche / A programme of research and events to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Cross-Channel Rail Link

Rails et Histoire – Association pour l’histoire des chemins de fer / Railway Historical Society – 9, rue du Château-Landon, F-75010 PARIS – Tél. / Phone: +33(0)1 5820 51 01 – Fax: +33(0)1 5820 5189 – Email:

The ‘Refugee Crisis’ and the US: the twisted ways of policy-making

The ‘refugee crisis’ has raised a lot of debates amongst Europe and the European Union. However, the position of the US is often overlooked in these debates even though its role has been central to the course of this ‘crisis’ from its very beginning. In Nizar Farsakh’s view, Obama’s international policy, while attempting to disrupt that of his predecessor, nonetheless resulted in the opposite outcome it was aiming for.

Nizar Farsakh is Program Director for Civil Society Partnerships at the US-based NGO Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED). Prior to this position, he was the General Director of the General Delegation of the PLO to the US for two years, and has extensive experience in policy advising to Palestinian negotiators on border-related issues.


The enormity of the Syrian refugee crisis has exposed the limits of Europe’s absorption capacity, both in physical as well as social/national terms. This has prompted many to ask how come European countries did not foresee it coming and whether they could have averted waiting for the crisis to rise to that magnitude. Yet, only after a few weeks, if not months, did people start to ask about the role of the US in all of this.

At first, the question was raised from a perspective of needing the help of a superpower to deal with the enormity of the crisis. But then as people started taking stock of its complexity, the urge to identify its origin crept in naturally. Indeed, in the American press the issue was framed in humanitarian terms, as a tragic development in the often troubled Middle East. Only after Germany announced its plans to accept hundreds of thousands of refugees did some American commentators start asking the question, how many will or should the US take? At that moment, the issue started being reframed as an American foreign policy issue and not least from an ethical moral responsibility angle. Obviously, the proximity and immediacy of the crisis for Europe forced the debate in ways that the US was sheltered from. In many ways, European countries had very little time or bandwidth to debate the issue and its origins as the flow of destitute refugees kept growing at an accelerated rate and at their doorsteps, literally. However, it was that severity and enormity of that crisis, its invoking of parallels from WWII, as well as its inescapable links to decisions made by the US administration that had commentators revisit the questions they raised when the US decided to pursue an aggressive policy in the Middle East.

Yet, unlike in WWII, the US this time is disinvesting itself from playing a major role in such affairs. The 2008 Obama election campaign ran on the promise of disentangling the US from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, among other promises on healthcare and climate change. Therefore, as his term was nearing an end, Obama wanted to consolidate a legacy before he leaves office in order to secure significant wins for his administration in the eyes of the American electorate and improve the chances of the Democratic Party in the next elections. That was especially true given how little he has been able to achieve during his tenure compared to the promises and high expectations back in 2008. The risks of the unraveling of Syria and consequent adverse repercussions were highlighted to the administration three years ago by many Middle East experts including POMED. But taking a more active role in the region went against the grain of this administration’s plans and they were too risk averse to take the chance. This wait and see policy in fact resulted in the US having to deal with a more complex problem as its adversaries took advantage of the vacuum US entrenchment provided. Now, belatedly, the US is forced to deal with this problem from a much weaker point and with far less chips at its disposal.

Ironically, the policy that was designed to redress excessive and myopic US interventionism, namely leading from behind, ended up compounding those adverse consequences. While reversing a policy seems a natural reaction when politicians realize its inefficacy, the case of the Syrian refugee crisis is a prime example of how such knee-jerk reactions are rarely prudent given the complexity of international politics.