Clash of Civilizations?

We convened a workshop on the underlying cause and potential long-term consequences of Europe’s refugee crisis, Clash of Civilizations?

The Tällberg Workshop on Lesvos. Clash of Civilizations?
March 2016

As at all Tällberg Foundation meetings, the goal of this workshop was to question and explore, without prejudice, the dynamics of an issue which has enormous consequence not only for the refugees fleeing political and economic instability, but for the people of Europe who are welcoming or fearing them. Above all, this is about people—and that is the reason we are convening in Lesvos, rather than in Geneva or London or New York: context matters.

The framing paper is provided only as a point of departure and to give a sense of the issues to consider. The focus was on fundamentals and consequences, not necessarily on immediate developments.

Each of the plenary sessions began with a short issue introduction, panel discussion or other provocation, but Tällberg is above all about conversations among participants, not about listening to speeches. Indeed, the challenge is to engage in and contribute to an open-ended learning exercise. In that spirit, there was no fixed objective for the workshop; no manifesto or any other kind of “product.” Of course, if knowledge imparts responsibility, then action should follow.

Link to the program


 Stories on Medium from participants of the workshop. 

Finding Sisyphus in Germany By Michael Niconchuk
Michael’s story is written following an assessment trip to Germany to scratch the surface of the integration question, specifically focusing on youth, unaccompanied men, mental health, and the disadvantages/advantages a decentralized integration strategy. He also participated in the Tällberg Workshop on Lesvos in Greece about the underlying cause and potential long-term consequences of Europe’s refugee crisis, Clash of Civilizations?

Europe’s Refugee Crisis: A Taste of Things to Come?
Oli Brown, Coordinator, UNEP Disasters and Conflicts Subprogramme

Tällberg Foundation Podcasts from the workshop at Lesvos:

10. Reflections from Lesvos in Greece – a conversation with Rufo Quintavalle and Tom Cummings

A conversation with:Rufo Quintavalle, Author and Impact Investor, France and Tom Cummings, Strategic Leadership Advisor and Founder of Leading Ventures and Board Member Tällberg Foundation, The Netherlands

09. Reflections from Lesvos in Greece on the migrants situation in the camps

Reflections from Abdulkader Sinno after his visits to the camps on the island of Lesvos in Greece. Abdulkader Sinno is Associate Professor of Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies at Indiana University, USA

08. Reflections from Lesvos in Greece on the refugee crisis in Europe

A conversation with:

-Maria del Mar Logrono Narbono, Programs Advisor, Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD)-Legal Aid, Jordan

-Michael Niconchuk, MSc Candidate, Faculty of Brain Sciences, University College London, US-UK Fulbright Award Recipient, UK.

The conversation is moderated by Nora Bateson, Filmmaker, writer, educator. lecturer President of the International Bateson Institute, and Board Member, Tällberg Foundation, Sweden & USA

What happens on the shores of Lesvos, Chios, Kos, Samos, and other islands in Greece remains mostly a policy discussion. For a few who have had the complicated position of seeing it, feeling it, and standing alongside people risking life and forsaking home—even for a short while— the danger of relegating issues this big, this crucial, to policymakers who have not seen with their own eyes highlights the gravity of the situation and raises questions far beyond the realm of policy. Immigration and migration—often a footnote in election cycles—is raising questions of what it means to empathize, what it means to be part of both a nation state and the human race. How do we define “us” and “them”? How do we control fear of the unknown and unknowable, and not be controlled by it? How does the language we use to define “crises” affect our response to them? This discussion, cover issue both practical and abstract, microcosmic and meta—in an attempt to trace how and why the “migrant” crisis has become a daunting threat to the European project and the global order. Tracing the issue from its impetuses in the Middle East, and moving deeper to questions of history, empathy, and human morality, they don’t provide any answers in the discussion, but frankly and honestly present the issue for digestion.