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Navigating Schengen. Historical Challenges and Potentialities of the EU Free Movement of Persons, 1985-2015

Project description

Human Mobility Rights in the EU: Looking back to see beyond

NAVSCHEN aims to unveil and to critically analyse transnationally interconnected historical primary sources on the roots, debates and conditions for the implementation of the European Union (EU)’s free movement of persons (FMP). Furthermore, it will address the empowering value of these normative legacies to tackle current challenges to human mobility rights in the European integration process, including its global governance reverberations. NAVSCHEN will also undertake the EU’s changing approaches to belonging and displacement, the agency of emerging factors of exclusion and the evolving solidarity priorities of the EU’s FMP. These key variables will be studied from the inception of the Schengen Area in 1985 in order to elucidate answers to more contemporary human mobility ‘crises’ with a focus on policy responsibility.


NAVSCHEN will produce the first dedicated historical analysis of all worldwide available primary sources on the transnational roots, debates and conditions for the implementation of the European Union (EU)’s free movement of persons (henceforth, FMP). The project’s overall objective (OO) is to highlight: a) the value of critical historical analysis and b) the normative legacies on human mobility rights in the European integration process to address the current challenges of the EU’s FMP.
This project aims to bridge this gap via the comparative analysis between the European Parliament (EP) and the European Commission (EC)’s role and impact on the changing modes of implementation of this Schengen Area ‘fourth freedom’. These two cases will be explored as part of a larger study on belonging and displacement in a ‘Europe in the making’. The project’s timeline will examine human mobility rights in light of the historical analysis of the European integration process from 1985 (the inception of the Schengen Area) to 2015 (a key turning point dominated by the public and private perception management articulation of responses to the so-called ‘refugee crisis’).
Core questions: What are the evolving modes of exclusion in transnational mobility in Europe and beyond? How can historical critiques be relevant to today’s challenges to free movement of persons? What are the neglected solidarity and diversity dimensions of European integration? In this light, can we articulate responses to humanitarian dilemmas beyond security-centered conceptions of transnational mobility? And normatively, are narratives on ‘shared values’ in the EU and beyond, sufficient to mediate countervailing factors of exclusion?
The main consulted archives will comprise the Historical Archives of the EU (HAEU), the Historical Archives of the European Parliament (HAEP) and the ‘Barbara Sloan European Union Delegation Collection (BSEUDC)’, currently hosted at the University of Pittsburgh Archives.



Net EU contribution
€ 251 002,56
Dorsoduro 3246
30123 Venezia

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Nord-Est Veneto Venezia
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Partners (1)