Public discourses on mobility control? Newspapers and the making of public opinion about migration to and through the port cities of Antwerp and Rotterdam in the early twentieth century
The late-nineteenth-century transport revolution and mass mobility it entailed prompted new forms of migration control on the national and local level. Historians have studied port cities as portals of steam-driven globalization, analyzing them as hubs of mobility and as spaces where movements came to a halt. We have solid knowledge about administrative practices of mobility control in port cities and about the securitization of migration by city and national authorities. Yet, we are almost entirely ignorant about the extent to which the authorities’ discourse on mobility reached the general public. Preliminary findings in Antwerp and Rotterdam local newspapers suggest that the press did not second the authorities’ securitization of mass migration from Eastern Europe that took off in the 1880s. This paper investigates digitized newspapers to give an appreciation of the public framing of mass mobility and its control in Rotterdam and Antwerp at a time when migration to and through the port cities was at its height.
Christina Reimann is a postdoctoral researcher in History at Södertörn University in Stockholm. Her main area of research is european transnational history in the nineteenth and twentieth century with a focus on port cities from a migration-, gender- and cultural historical perspective.
Reimann, Christina (2022): “Amusement Leaves the Port: Pleasure Institutions and the Reshaping of Gothenburg’s Material and Nonmaterial Borders, 1860s-1923.” In: Journal of Urban History, vol. 48, Issue 6, 1211–1229.
Sari, Nauman/Wojtek Jezierski/Christina Reimann/Leif Runefelt (eds.) (2022): Baltic Hospitality: Receiving Strangers & Providing Security in North-Eastern Europe, c. 1000-1900. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
Reimann, Christina (2021): “’Behaviour and Morality have Remained Irreproachable, and his Commercial Reputation is Good.’ Applying for Naturalisation in Late-Nineteenth-Century Rotterdam and Antwerp.” In: Low Countries Historical Review (BMGN) 136 (3), 3–30.
Reimann, Christina/Martin Öhman (eds.) (2020): Migrants and the Making of the Urban-Maritime World. Agency and Mobility in Port Cities, c. 1570–1940. London: Routledge.
Reimann, Christina (2020): “People on Lists in Port Cities: Administrative Migration Control in Antwerp and Rotterdam (c. 1880–1914).” In: Journal of Migration History 6 (2), 182–208.