WISO-Abendkolloquium 07.05.2019


Tobias Brinkmann, Penn State University: Regulating Migration through Remote Control: The Austrian Trade Ministry, the German Steamship Lines and the 1913/14 Canadian Pacific Affair

Zeit: Dienstag, 7. Mai 2019, 18:00 - 19:30 Uhr

Ort: WISO Seminarraum, Hauptgebäude, Stiege 6, 2. Stock, Obergeschoß

Moderation: Annemarie Steidl


Historical migration studies remain beholden to the nation-state paradigm. Tracing migrants across and beyond national and imperial borders and using the files of non-state actors, especially transportation businesses and migrant aid associations, provide a more differentiated interpretation of migration processes. 1913 witnessed a sharp increase in migration rates from Eastern Europe to the United States, not least from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In October 1913 Austrian authorities arrested dozens of ticket-selling agents linked with Canadian Pacific steamship line and stepped up controls at the main train stations and border crossings. The arrests and border controls appear to betray the growing influence of the Austrian military. A major target were young men who tried to evade military service. Austrian and Hungarian military leaders were concerned about the erosion of the Empire’s military might, especially after the outbreak of the Balkan Wars. Conservative commentators who had long criticized the mass emigration applauded the government’s strong response. The talk, which is based on extensive research in the files of the Austrian trade ministry, will present a different interpretation. The main beneficiaries of the arrests and office closures of the Canadian Pacific were two German steamship lines which aggressively protected their monopoly over the transatlantic migration from Eastern Europe. The main target of the crackdown was the Austrian trade ministry which had granted a concession to the Canadian Pacific to offer transatlantic services from the Austrian port of Trieste. The Canadian Pacific Affair illustrates the ambivalent relationship between non-state actors (i.e. steamship lines) and governments on both sides of the Atlantic and the remarkable success of remote border controls handled by transatlantic steamship lines on behalf of governments on both sides of the Atlantic.