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Lecture | Book talk | LIMS seminar

Internationalism, Protectionism, Xenophobia: The Second International’s Migration Debate (1889–1914)

  • Daan Musters (The Council for Public Administration)
Friday 17 December 2021
Leiden Interdisciplinary Migration Seminars 2021-2022
Online: https://smart.newrow.com/#/room/qjg-259

LIMS talk by Daan Musters (The Council for Public Administration), entitled 'Internationalism, Protectionism, Xenophobia: The Second International’s Migration Debate (1889–1914)’.


Between 1889 and 1914, the Second International (SI) united left-wing movements across the world in an attempt to promote international socialism. This presentation centers on the SI’s migration debate. 

In 1907, the SI adopted an 'internationalist' resolution on migration, which rejected restrictions on the free movement of workers, especially restrictions based on migrants' racial or national background. Under the 'internationalist' surface, however, the issue proved highly controversial. In this presentation of the SI's migration debate (roughly 1903-1907), Daan Musters presents the three ideal-typical positions on migration that emerged – internationalism on the one hand, and protectionist nativism and xenophobic nativism on the other – and shows how the incompatibility of the internationalist and nativist positions caused internal divisions to arise. 

Apart from speaking to the classic historiography on the Second International, which deals with the incompatibility of internationalism and nationalism, this presentation traces the influence of racist and culturalist ideologies on the debates, and historicizes the discussions within the broader context of the modern international migration system that was taking shape at the time. It considers how the migration debate of the Second International connects both forward and backward in time, and shows how the insights from his research can help us shed light on the way the Left has positioned itself on immigration in the century after the Second International's migration debate took place. 

Delegates attending the congress of the Second International in Stuttgart (1907). Source: International Institute for Social History (Amsterdam).


The Leiden Interdisciplinary Migration Seminars (LIMS) aim at fostering further discussion across disciplines on migration-related topics and creating an open dialogue between the speakers and the attendees. The seminars are a platform for those at Leiden University working on migration-related topics.

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