Uprooted: How post-WWII Population Transfers Remade Europe

Friday, November 05, 2021 at 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Virtual Event

Part of the Myron Weiner Seminar Series on International Migration with guest speaker Volha Charnysh, Assistant Professor of Political Science at MIT.

Please register for the virtual Zoom webinar at https://bit.ly/PopulationTransfers



WWII and its aftermath precipitated one of the largest episodes of forced migration in history. In 1944-51, nearly 20 million people, including 12 million Germans and 5 million Poles, were uprooted from their homes and resettled elsewhere. This redistribution of population profoundly diversified societies within states. Migrants coming from different regions, espousing different religious beliefs, and speaking different dialects suddenly shared close quarters with one another. The book asks how they learned to live together and why some uprooted populations are economically better off than others today. Using hand-collected archival and census data from Poland and Germany, I show that communities diversified by forced migration initially struggled to cooperate and provide public goods, as individuals coming from different regions viewed each other with suspicion and distrust. At the same time, forced migration shored up the role of formal state institutions in the provision of public goods and welfare in the long run. I further show that with time, communities that received a larger and more heterogeneous migrant population reached higher entrepreneurship rates and personal incomes. 

About the speaker:

Volha Charnysh joined MIT’s Department of Political Science in the fall of 2018. In 2017-2018, she was a fellow at the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at the Princeton University Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She received her PhD in Government from Harvard University in May 2017.

Dr. Charnysh’s research focuses on historical political economy, legacies of violence, nation- and state-building, and ethnic politics. Her book project examines the long-run effects of forced migration in the aftermath of World War II in Eastern Europe, synthesizing several decades of micro-level data collected during a year of fieldwork in Poland, funded by the Social Science Research Council and Center for European Studies

Dr. Charnysh’s work has appeared in the American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, and the European Journal of International Relations. Her dissertation won the 2018 Ernst B. Haas Best Dissertation prize, awarded by the European Politics and Society Section of the American Political Science Association, as well as the Best Dissertation Prize, awarded by the Migration & Citizenship Section. Dr. Charnysh has also contributed articles to Foreign Affairs, Monkey Cage at the Washington Post, National Interest, Transitions Online, Arms Control Today, Belarus Digest, and other media.



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Co-sponsors:  MIT Center for International Studies

Free and open to the public

Sponsored by the Inter-University Committee on International Migration
For more information or accessibility accommodations please contact lkerwin@mit.edu.

The Inter-University Committee on International Migration
Since its establishment in 1974, the Inter-University Committee on International Migration has been a focal point for migration and refugee studies at member institutions, which include Boston UniversityBrandeis UniversityThe Fletcher School of Law and DiplomacyHarvard UniversityMITTufts University, and Wellesley College. The committee is chaired by MIT as a program of the Center for International Studies (CIS).

Migration Seminar Series
During each academic year, the Committee sponsors a seminar series on international migration, The Myron Weiner Seminar Series on International Migration, held at MIT's Center for International Studies. The seminars explore factors affecting international population movements and their impact upon sending and receiving countries and relations among them.

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migration, CIS, International Migration, Center for International Studies

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