Special issue “Grassroots responses to mass migration in Europe”

Special issue of the journal Intersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics “Grassroots responses to mass migration in Europe”, co-edited by Čarna Brković, Antonio De Lauri, and Sabine Hess

2015 has not only seen a mass flight movement but also an explosion of helping hands of various kinds, by migrant networks, spontaneous volunteers, civil associations, local NGOs, and so forth mitigating the unfolding ‘migration reception crisis’. A conspicuous body of research focusing on such grassroots responses to mass migration, the role of volunteers and activism has been emerging since (Feischmidt at al., 2018; McGee & Pelham, 2018; Rozakou, 2017; Sandri, 2017; Sutter, 2020). This literature has emphasized important aspects of the broad migration receiving apparatus, which is not only constituted by governmental and inter-governmental actors but also by these practices of humanitarianism from below producing highly ambivalent and complex assemblage of power, hierarchies and moral entanglements.

The papers in this special issue illustrate the complexities of finding the right vocabulary— both descriptive and analytical—to explain how people living across Europe have responded to the recent shifts in the EU border regime. This thematic issue contributes to the ongoing lively debates on the relationship between humanitarianism, solidarity, and human rights in Europe. It does so by approaching the concept of ‘grassroots’ critically and from an ethnographic perspective.

Table of Contents


Grassroots responses to mass migration in Europe: Introduction

by Čarna Brković, Antonio De Lauri, and Sabine Hess


Grassroots responses to mass migration in Europe

The temporality of humanitarianism: Provincializing everyday volunteer practices at European borders

by Synnøve Kristine Nepstad Bendixsen and Marie Sandberg



Guessing games with target groups: Securing a livelihood by supporting refugees in a hostile environment

by Lieke van der Veer



Between supporting and reporting: Grassroots textual responses to the pushbacks at the fringes of EU

by Marijana Hameršak



The black holes of Lesbos. Life and death at Moria camp: Border violence, asylum, and racisms at the edge of postcolonial Europe

by Edgar Córdova Morales


Research Note

Mapping the field of turbulent changes around the issue of migration in Poland

by Grzegorz Piotrowski


Book Review

Elżbieta Drążkiewicz (2020) Institutionalised dreams: The art of managing foreign aid. New York and Oxford: Berghahn. 248 pages.

by Ildikó Zakariás



Are anti-immigrant attitudes the Holy Grail of populists? A comparative analysis of attitudes towards immigrants, values, and political populism in Europe

by Vera Messing and Bence Ságvári



Counter-movement at a critical juncture: A neo-Polanyian interpretation of the rise of the illiberal Right in Poland

by Sławomir Czech and Maciej Kassner



The Human embryo: Mapping patients’ ethical decisions in Hungary

by Lilla Vicsek, Judit Sándor, and Zsófia Bauer




Intersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics (Intersections.EEJSP) is a peer-reviewed, open access journal focusing on social sciences (broadly understood) and promoting comparative thinking on Eastern and Central European societies in a global context. Founded by the Centre for Social Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and published currently by Centre for Social Sciences in Budapest, Intersections.EEJSP provides an international forum for scholars coming from and/or working on the region.