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We are pleased to share some of the positive feedback received from participants who attended the conference in May 2018, including reactions to specific panels, research and activities.

Ahmed Hamila, Université de Montréal

Si j’ai participé autant de fois à ce congrès, c’est qu’en tant que jeune chercheur, j’y ai aisément trouvé ma place. Effectivement, à chacune des éditions du congrès, mon sentiment d’appartenance à cette communauté de chercheures n’a cessé de s’accroitre, me permettant de faire connaitre mon travail et de l’approfondir grâce aux commentaires constructifs et bienveillants reçus, mais également, d’étoffer mon réseau parmi les plus grandes spécialistes canadiennes en études européennes.

À chaque édition du congrès, il est de coutume de lancer les hostilités avec les activités organisées par le Réseau des jeunes chercheures (YRN). Entité officielle intégrée à l’ECSA-C depuis 2004, le YRN s’est constitué avec pour objectif principal d’encourager le partage de connaissances parmi les doctorantes et jeunes spécialistes en études européennes, et pour les assister dans leur développement professionnel. Cette année, deux tables rondes ont été organisées, l’une intitulée Multitasking during the Ph.D. et l’autre intitulée Outreach, Community Engagement, and Social Media for Aspiring Academics. Ces activités ont constitué un formidable espace pour un échange à bâtons rompus entre chercheures établies et jeunes chercheures autour de thématiques telles que la conciliation des différentes exigences auxquelles les jeunes chercheures doivent répondre et la gestion de la pression toujours plus importante à laquelle ces derniers doivent faire face.

La place des jeunes chercheures lors des congrès de l’ECSA-C n’est pas circonscrite aux activités du YRN, loin de là. Effectivement, à chaque édition du congrès, plusieurs panels sont organisés sur l’initiative de doctorantes et jeunes spécialistes et appuyés (notamment financièrement) par le comité organisateur. Ainsi, lors de cette douzième édition du congrès de l’ECSA-C, j’ai eu le plaisir, avec ma collègue doctorante Juliette Dupont, d’organiser un panel intitulé Policing the Body: Gender, Sexuality and the Politics of Mobility. Ce panel aura été l’occasion de discuter l’un des chapitres empiriques de ma thèse et de développer des liens avec d’autres doctorant.e.s qui s’intéressent à des problématiques similaires aux miennes.

Outre ces panels qui permettent de mettre en avant le travail des jeunes chercheures, pendant le congrès plusieurs doctorantes et jeunes spécialistes ont été invitées à enregistrer une courte vidéo qui expose leur recherche en cours dans le cadre du projet EUCAnet. Initié en 2004 par l’ECSA-C et le programme d’études européennes de l’Université de Victoria, EUCAnet est une plateforme en ligne qui répertorie les expertes canadiennes en études européennes. Prendre part à EUCAnet permet aux jeunes chercheures d’accroitre leur visibilité auprès des spécialistes de leur champ, mais également auprès des médias canadiens qui font souvent appel aux experts deEUCAnet pour discuter les actualités liées à l’Union européenne et à l’Europe plus généralement.

En somme, mon expérience lors de cette douzième édition du congrès de l’ECSA-C fut profitable à plusieurs égards, c’est donc avec impatience que j’attends la treizième édition à Edmonton en 2020.

Aleksey Asiryan, York University

I fully enjoyed the 3-day conference in the heart of downtown Toronto, which I think was highly successful and very well organized. I have benefited personally from this event both as an aspiring scholar and a student interested in contemporary European affairs. The most valuable aspect for me was being a part of this conversation alongside other students, researchers and renowned academics from around the world. The conference covered a wide variety of interesting topics and discussions of important issues Europe faces today.

Several of the panels which I attended had been very insightful and useful for my own research. Session 2B on changes in EU relations with neighbouring states highlighted some of the EU approaches to foreign policy building as well as different crisis response strategies. I was able to incorporate some of the ideas, sources and methods discussed during this session in my own research paper on EU, China and Central Asia, which I presented at the UNU-CRIS workshop the following month. One of the common critiques discussed at the panel was EU’s slow policy change and policy-makers’ inability to catch up with social, political and economic realities. In particular, Joan DeBardeleben and Aidar Dossymov argued that EU policy change following the Ukraine crisis has been very limited and questioned whether the EU learned any lessons from it. The second paper by Irena Mnatsakanyan has also highlighted incoherence of EU’s crisis management mechanisms on South Caucasus. The first three papers particularly have helped me with my own research as I drew many parallels with my own findings of EU’s policy setbacks in Central Asia. What’s more, the session generated a very interesting discussion of the future direction of EU foreign policy.

On a more general note, it was also very refreshing to see many young Canadian and European scholars discussing contemporary issues, like right-wing populism, Brexit, Euroscepticism, anti-immigration movements, gender and sexuality, among other things. There were several speakers who emphasized the importance of media in relation to the rise of the radical right ideas in Europe and EU’s moral responsibility to respond to this challenge.

Above all, this conference gave me an opportunity to network with other scholars in my field and share ideas over delicious food and amazing scenery. This was one of the very few conferences I attended that encompassed such a wide variety of topics and maintained a high degree of organization at every level.

Colleen Williams, York University

What was interesting about this conference was how topics such as citizenship, electoral systems, women of colour and more broadly gender are relatable issues across the academic field and across countries. One session that particularly stood out to me and that I found very relatable as a woman in a world that is still heavily ‘male centric’ was that entitled “Gendered and Racialized Implication of EU Policy.”

The speakers in this panel looked at gender in different sectors of our lives, such as work, education and immigration. The issue of gender inequality which I believe to still be prevalent in our societies today were explored by Elaine Weiner and Akaysha Huminski. Weiner noted that much remains to be done in finding solutions to gender equality. She highlighted the issue of male privilege and the fact that gender inequality tends to be focused on women. She stressed that the onus should be on both men and women, further reflecting on the challenges, in what she referred as, “the complex web of relationships,” in defining gender. She provided examples of this blurred line between men and women ‘issues’, noting for example, how the victimization of men and boys are absent as they are normally seen as the perpetrators; and how our education system as well creates these divisions. She challenged us as the audience to reflect on how the dynamics of gender is changing and still needs to change in the fields that we engage in.

Huminski bought to the discussion what I will call the ‘age old phenomenon’ of labour and gendered roles. The depth of her research and the comparative analysis that she brought to the table was very admirable. Her research looked at the male bread-winner model in the welfare states of Germany and Sweden. Germany, she noted, resembled more the male bread-winner society where men played a more dominant role in the labour force. More than half of the women in Germany were part-time workers and had less compensation in comparison to their male counterparts. In contrast, Sweden showed a re-defining of gendered roles. Examples of this were seen in a ‘dual breadwinner’ model, parental leave for both men and women, gendered pay gaps and a rise in women’s employment in the public service. I found this peculiar, especially given the strides that Sweden seem to have made in seeking equality for both men and women.

The presentation by Jess Guth and Jeremy Bierbach, however, peeked my curiosity the most, quite possible because it was linked to the field of immigration to which I am more in tuned. Guth raised crucial points such as the issue of immigration and securitization and the idea of ‘fortress Europe’. Guth notes that the fundamental rights of immigrants are missing until they are in the EU discourse, showing how gender is invisible in law and policy. Quite interestingly also, was the problem women faced as asylum seekers and women who face high risk pregnancy. She highlighted a central point in the field of immigration whereby the more developed countries such as Europe have become more preoccupied with security risks rather than assessing individual migrants and their needs. Guth stressed that this will change how they are viewed, for example, as terrorist, to positively impact their acceptance and assimilation into Europe.

Bierbach’s presentation shifted the scope from immigration and security by looking at issues such as cross-border equality where same-sex marriage contestations are becoming a problem in some countries. He notes that people are now crossing borders for love and tend to move to countries that are more favourable to their sexuality. Nation-states play dominant roles in the lives of their citizens and even non-citizens, a question to which Bierbach highlights in arguing whether states are repressing the family lives of their citizens in discriminating against same-sex marriages. He further notes that the EU is seen as more favourable for these ‘non-traditional families.’

Some of the central themes that I believe should be highlighted from these presenters were the idea of the ‘ideal’ worker; race and gender as invisible in policy documents; the disadvantages of gendered groups, for example, migrant men versus migrant women and privileged versus non-privileged women. This leads us to question “How do we frame the concept of gender to not lose focus of the ‘male’ and ‘female’? Where do we draw the boundaries?”

Anne-Marie Houde, Université de Montréal

En tant qu’étudiante de première année à la maîtrise, le fait d’avoir pu participer à une conférence aussi importante que celle de l’ECSA-C a été une expérience incroyable, d’autant plus qu’il s’agissait du premier événement de ce genre auquel je prenais part. Comme étudiante de science politique avec un intérêt très marqué pour les études européennes, je trouve formidable qu’une association comme l’ECSA-C existe et fasse rayonner le champ en dehors de l’Europe, et particulièrement au Canada. L’organisation de conférences comme celle que nous avons eu la chance de vivre cette année à Toronto est d’ailleurs l’occasion parfaite pour les chercheurs de tous niveaux de partager leurs connaissances et de faire des rencontres entre résidents des deux côtés de l’Atlantique.

J’ai eu l’occasion d’assister à plusieurs panels en plus de participer à celui sur le Voting Behaviour and The Politics of Perception, mais j’admets que deux des panels m’ont particulièrement marqué. D’abord, celui sur le populisme de droite en Europe de l’ouest était on ne peut plus intéressant pour moi qui m’intéresse à ces questions. Ce sujet étant depuis les dernières années hautement d’actualité en Europe comme dans le reste du monde, il était intéressant de voir les recherches qui ont été effectuées, notamment dans une dimension comparative puisque certains des travaux présentés se concentraient sur un seul pays en particulier. J’ai également trouvé les commentaires donnés par l’auditoire très pertinents et j’ai d’ailleurs appliqué certains d’entre eux à ma propre recherche qui touche indirectement le populisme de droite en Europe. Le deuxième panel m’ayant marqué est celui intitulé Policing the Body: Gender, Sexuality and the Politics of Mobility. Contrairement à ce que laisse présager son titre, ce panel s’est déroulé en français, ce que j’ai trouvé très bien pour une conférence canadienne. Outre cela, j’ai pensé que les travaux qui avaient été présentés sur ce panel étaient tous d’une qualité remarquable et même si d’emblée les politiques de genre et de migration ne sont pas des sujets sur lesquels je travaille, j’ai été vraiment impressionnée par les designs de recherche présentés. Les entrevues menées sur le terrain et les études de cas sont définitivement marquantes et j’espère pouvoir lire les produits finaux dans des publications.

Somme toute, ma participation à la conférence de l’ECSA-C 2018 s’est révélée enrichissante et substantielle en rencontres et je tiens à remercier l’équipe de l’organisation de donner à des étudiantes et des jeunes chercheures comme moi-même la chance de pouvoir présenter des travaux dans un événement d’une telle envergure.

Nouri Rupert, Université de Montreal

Cette rencontre de l’ECSA-C a été une opportunité incroyable et une rencontre entre l’Amérique du Nord et l’Europe. En plus de rencontrer des collègues que nous n’aurions peut-être jamais rencontrées ailleurs, l’ECSA-C m’a permis de progresser par rapport aux attentes de la recherche académique de haut niveau. Le plus marquant pour moi a été l’attention portée à la question de genre, lors du panel pour les jeunes chercheures. Il s’agit là du premier colloque international auquel j’ai assisté où on a accordé une sensibilisation marquée aux inégalités de genre dans notre milieu professionnel.

Le propos portait sur la conciliation entre recherche et maternité/paternité. Ces sujets sont généralement absents des conférences de sciences sociales et sciences politiques. Avec son parcours personnel, une femme chercheuse a pu toucher un grand nombre de femmes et d’hommes concernées par la question, mais également des chercheurs qui ne se posaient jamais la question. J’ai vraiment apprécié cela puisque je suis chercheur en Etudes Genre et Théories Féministes. A coté de cela, nous avons reçu des conseils par rapport à la rédaction de la thèse, aux conseils pour publications. L’ECSA-C avait choisi de faire une conférence en petit groupe donc la parole était simple à écouter ou pour poser des questions.

L’ECSA-C accorde beaucoup d’importance aux travaux des jeunes chercheurs. J’ai pu assister à un panel dans lesquels des étudiante.e.s européen.e.s et canadien.e.s avaient travaillé ensemble sur un projet. L’ECSA-C rend possible la coopération entre universitaires et donne sa chance à des étudiant.e.s de niveau Master. Les enjeux migratoires et de coopération entre Europe et Amérique étaient également présents, afin de faire le lien entre des débats politiques actuels et la conceptualisation théorique.

Enfin, je tiens à remercier les responsables d’atelier pour leur implication. J’ai pu participer à un panel « Policing the Body: Gender, Sexuality and the Politics of Mobility », un panel de jeunes chercheur.e.s, dans lequel Laurie Beaudonnet a vraiment pris le temps de lire les communications, de les analyser et nous donner des conseils précieux pour améliorer le travail.

Ce panel sur le genre, la migration et la politique publique a permis de se faire rencontrer des sociologues et des politistes afin de discuter des différentes échelles d’analyses de situations complexes : de la sociologie de l’Etat à la sociologie des acteurs et des organisations internationales. Cela permet de produire des travaux interdisciplinaires et surtout avec des méthodologies d’enquête diverses (recherche par interview des acteurs ou recherche « top-down »). Ce panel a été un espace de rencontre entre chercheurs universitaires et acteurs de terrain, indispensables, qui permet le dialogue permanent entre recherche et action.

Laura Sanchez-Martinez, University of Waterloo

Fortunately, I came across the 12th Biennial Conference of the European Community Studies Association- Canada, ECSA-C, which was planning on focusing on areas such as: Unity, Diversity, and Populism in the EU and were looking for topics to cover in those areas. I excitedly submitted my current area of study for review titled: The Immigration Policy in France 2013: The Case of the Roma as an Ethnic Minority.

It was until February 2018 when the applicants received a response; in my case it was an acceptance notification. From there I began my conference preparation. Favorably, the process that York University followed was clear and easy to understand; there was not a lot of confusion in the instructions and if you had a question, the answer was almost immediate. This foundation and reliability continued to illuminate the unknown path that I was on. Finally, the day of the conference arrived. The location: The Hilton Hotel. Date: May 9th to 11th. The first day seemed to fly by, and after the Keynote Lecture during the refreshments I was able to meet another researcher and we discovered that we spoke the same native language. It was a great opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences. Unfortunately, our presentations were at the same time and day, but we exchange contacts and we wished each other good luck.

The second day of the conference was filled with interesting round table sessions and presentations. I was able to attend sessions that were relevant to my professional and personal interests including. It also offered a welcome opportunity for me to brush up on my French. I was especially captivated by one hosted by “Sauteur de barrier” by Elsa Tyszler. Which offered an interesting contrast to the scenario in my native country of Mexico. I was even lucky enough to connect with Elsa to share discuss and share experiences. Finally, the third day it was my turn. I presented, and I received valuable insights from the discussant Dr. Willem Mass, the panellists and the audience. The guidance I received was both stylistic and content based. It gave me a fresh perspective on my research which continues to influence my writing.

In the end, the path through the forest became increasingly clear. I can say that I not only grew my support network, but gained an alternative perspective and route the forest of my research.

Sabrina Paillé, Sociology, York University

En mai 2018, j’ai participé pour la première fois à la conférence bi-annuelle d’ECSA-C à Toronto. Le thème de la conférence, « Unité, diversité et populisme », rejoignait mes recherches sur les réactions anti-immigration en Europe. J’ai participé à un panel sur le populisme de droite en Europe de l’Ouest et j’y ai présenté mes travaux sur le mouvement anti-Islam Pegida en Allemagne. Acronyme pour Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes – ou « Patriotes européens contre l’islamisation de l’Occident » -, Pegida est un mouvement populaire issu de la ville de Dresde qui mobilise entre autres des gens issus de la classe moyenne qui se décrivent comme des « citoyens ordinaires », qui ne s’identifient pas nécessairement à l’extrême-droite et qui se distancient avec insistance des groupes néo-Nazis. Dans ma présentation, je soutenais que contrairement à ce qu’on pourrait penser, il ne s’agit pas – ou du moins pas seulement – d’un mouvement des « perdants de la globalisation ». Les supporters de Pegida ont plutôt peur pour l’avenir. Ils se perçoivent comme étant en voie de précarisation et craignent que l’immigration ne leur fasse perdre leur identité. Le commentateur Francisco Beltran a souligné un parallèle avec de récentes études américaines qui indiquent que les citoyens ayant voté pour Donald Trump ne sont pas principalement animés par des anxiétés d’ordre économique, mais plutôt par la peur d’une marginalisation culturelle et d’une perte de statut. La discussion a ainsi attiré l’attention sur la dimension transatlantique du populisme et la nécessité de l’étudier dans une perspective globale et comparative.

Lors de la conférence à Toronto, je me suis jointe au conseil d’administration du Réseau des Jeunes Chercheurs (Young Researchers Network) d’ECSA-C pour un mandat de deux ans. Le Réseau des Jeunes Chercheurs a pour objectif de favoriser les échanges entre universitaires en début de carrière, notamment à travers l’organisation d’ateliers et d’activités de développement professionnel. L’atelier de cette année, organisé par le conseil d’administration sortant, portait entre autres sur l’utilisation des médias sociaux dans la mobilisation et la diffusion des connaissances. Les ont souligné l’importance croissante des nouvelles technologies pour se faire connaître comme En ce sens, j’ai beaucoup apprécié l’initiative de Beate Schmidtke d’offrir la possibilité aux membres du Réseau des Jeunes Chercheurs de produire un profil vidéo pour Avec Pablo Ouziel (Université de Victoria) et Johannes Müller-Gomez (Université de Montréal), nous formons une équipe motivée et déterminée à construire une communauté interdisciplinaire et bilingue d’é gradué.es et de jeunes travaillant dans le champ des Études européennes à travers le Canada.

John Hayes, York University

Working at the ESCA-C conference was an incredibly beneficial experience for me, a graduate student in political science. I found that the conference covered most, if not all, of the disciplinary subfields of political science along with other social science disciplines. Throughout the three conference days, I was privileged to hear a diverse selection of scholars in panels ranging from theory to comparative public policy, International Relations, and public administration, which are all fields that have held particular interest to me. Given that my graduate research was relatively nascent at the time of the conference (I was an MA still engaged in course work), attending panels and interacting with senior scholars was illuminating for my ongoing self-reflection regarding the direction I might take at the PhD level. Further, as my research is regionally focused in Latin America, the European focus brought forward useful literature and several theoretical approaches that I had not yet encountered in my courses to date. I realized that regional specificity is only one component of being an area scholar, and that my research of the Americas shares much more than previously thought with other area studies.

Empirically speaking, ECSA-C engaged with current issues and processes of political change that are continuously unfolding: themes of migration, political polarization, the uncertainty of multilateral trade and governance in the Trump-era, the rise of populism, Brexit, challenges within EU cohesion, and many more. The innate benefit of sitting in panels and writing synopses gave graduate students like myself a rewarding crash-course in the academic approach to examining fast-moving processes of change. As conference assistants, we were tasked with coordinating and maintaining the social media presence (twitter and Instagram, primarily), which was enthusiastically embraced by many of the attendees and presenters under the hashtag #ECSACTORONTO.

Beyond the panels, I was impressed by the additional programming of ECSA-C. For example, the roundtable on declining trust in the media, which brought in leading journalists and media experts, including one of my favourite Canadian journalists, Doug Saunders. Additionally, the presence of Germany’s ambassador to Canada and a German member of parliament was an unexpected and unique experience as I have never attended a conference with the presence of diplomats.

Overall, I had a very positive experience working at ECSA-C, which reinforced the importance of attending conferences as a graduate student, even in non-presenting capacitates. I definitely encourage future students to participate in any way they can. Thank you to the presenters and organizers that made ECSA-C 2018 a success!

Stephan Fortin, York University

This past May, I had the pleasure of assisting with the ECSA-C Biennial Conference in Toronto, helping attendees get to their panels and attending some panels myself. Although my research is not directly related to European Studies, I found my experience at the conference to be useful and interesting. The ECSA-C Conference was my first experience attending an academic conference, and I learned a lot about the function and value of conferences, as well as how conferences structure the work of academics. I had understood academic work as a mostly solitary cycle of research, peer review, and publishing. To the extent that I understood what conferences were like, I thought they were mostly venues for attendees and students to learn more about new ideas in their field, but I didn’t understand the value for the presenters, or that for the most part the presenters and the attendees were the same people.

On the 10th, I attended a panel entitled “Social Democracy and Crises,” where I was fascinated by the work of the scholars in attendance. I was impressed again at later panels, where these same scholars used the Q&A portion of the panels to ask questions that pertained to their own work while also addressing what was discussed. In this way, I understood how conferences are opportunities to learn new ideas on the cutting edge of a field, a chance to open one’s own ideas to criticism, as well as a chance to put one’s research into conversation with that of others for the benefit of both. My own research benefited from this conference because I observed the value of connecting research to trends in current events and in the field. The panels on the rise of right-wing populism and on border regimes and asylum policies were especially vibrant because their topics felt accessible and relevant. Viewing research through contemporary issues also allowed for connections to be made between seemingly different types of analysis by bringing them into dialogue over one salient point.

At the border regimes panel, more abstract deconstructions of concepts like “refugee” and “rights” shared space with schools of thought that operated within the assumptions of borders and policies to make political prognostications and assessments. Instead of being siloed into different categories of scholarship or being presented as incompatible, these approaches were presented together, and again were brought into conversation with each other.

When I returned to my own research, I saw it with a curiosity about what my peers and colleagues would ask me about my approach and my findings in a conference setting, as well as what questions I could ask of other’s approaches to enrich my own work.

Andrew Jones, York University

This year I had the pleasure of attending the European Community Studies Association conference in Toronto. I presented my research on the influence of European far-right thinkers on the rise of populism in Europe and North America. While that presentation went incredibly well, the highlight of the conference for me was the young researcher’s network panels on the first day.

As an early Ph.D. I have found many of the conferences I have attended to throw me into the deep end. After receiving vague advice such as “go network” or “publish” from academics who haven’t been on the job market since I was in grade school, I wasn’t expecting much. So, I was blown out of the water when the ECSA went out of its way to help young academics throughout the conference. The young researcher’s network (YRN) event on the first day was fantastic and easily the best professional advice I have received all year.

Getting advice on work-life balance from academics with family and relationship commitments such as Heather MacRae and Pablo Ouziel reassured me that being an academic didn’t mean being a hermit in a departmental office. The advice on how to balance chaotic schedules and personal life has helped. The anecdote about a departmental chair announcing that a staff meeting would be ending on time, so that he could pick up his children from daycare was refreshing. It has personally motivated me to stop letting academics consume all my free time that should be spent with friends and family. The realization that my social media presence mattered for networking and building up an academic and professional network should have been obvious, but it wasn’t until the panel on social media for YRN that I realized how helpful it could be. Producing a short video summarizing my research or having a ready to go elevator pitch to give to the media never really dawned on me. As Oliver Schmidtke and Kim Chorong pointed out, sharing my research profile with the press means I can share my research with a broader audience rather than just with academics in my sub-field. Since then I have been keeping an eye out for journalists and media outlets that could use my expertise, in addition to connecting with other academics over social media. The advice for YRN was refreshing because It wasn’t just the broad advice of “make media contacts” or “post on Twitter”, instead it was a detailed explanation of the different websites, apps and networks that I could use as an academic. Creating profiles on Research Gate and H-Net, both sites I learned about through the ECSA even helped turn one of my conference abstracts into an upcoming book chapter!

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