Logo Utrecht University

CfH Lectures


Ewan Engelen’s lecture is preceded by a lecture by Ido de Haan and Jan-Willem Duyvendak.

One of the most wielded arguments against open borders is that immigration erodes the social cohesion and solidarity that underlies a well-developed welfare state. This argument comes in different shapes. Some use it in an empirical fashion, claiming that empirically open borders are found only in atavistic welfare state and, vice versa, that well-developed welfare state have restrictive migration regimes. Others use it theoretically, claiming that a shared history, shared ethnicity or a shared religion is required to set up institutions of formal solidarity. A third usage claims that rights of collective self-determination trump moral obligations to ensure equal life chances for everyone. In this session we learn to distinguish between the different modes of this argument and present some counterarguments.

This lecture was given within the framework of the 2010 School of Critical Theory organized by the Centre for the Humanities in Utrecht. The programme was titled ‘Cosmopolitanism, Peace and Conflict’, and offered trans-national and interdisciplinary approaches drawn from the humanities, social sciences, law, philosophy and international relations. Its focus on the development of crossnational European perspectives in these areas, allows for the innovative use of key notions of cosmopolitanism and diversity as bridge-makers across different national, cultural and disciplinary traditions. The school consisted of three clusters, which focused on Populism and anti-cosmopolitanism in Europe today, Frames of War, and Legal Theory and Cosmopolitics.