Open Borders and the Future of Migration at Full Circle House

The Iron Curtain is no more, the Berlin wall has fallen, Europe’s internal borders have been lifted for the better. But borders are back. Or to tell the truth, they were never really gone. Far from being simply geographical realities, borders are liminal spaces between cultures, identities and epochs, constantly witnessing human flows. Both enticing and frightening at once, people continue migrating because or in spite of them.

At a time when borders and migration couldn’t be more contested issues, we bring together three exceptional voices to reflect on the essence of borders and the future of migration. Award-winning writer Kapka Kassabova, correspondent & documentarist Bram Vermeulen, and historian & curator Bram Beelaert are all remarkable listeners to the many stories of migrants, refugees, escapees, returnees and even smugglers and xenophobes. Looking back and forward, they will engage in a gripping discussion on the powerful realities of our times that ultimately speak of the human condition.



Kapka Kassabova is an award-winning poet and writer of travel, history and fiction. Raised in Bulgaria and New Zealand, she now lives in the Highlands of Scotland, where she writes in a cottage by a river. Her preoccupation with people’s relationship to place and displacement informs all her work, including poetry collections and novels. Border, A Journey to the Edge of Europe (2017) explores not just the borderlands of Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece in a region shaped by forces of history, but also meditates on what exists between countries, cultures, others and ourselves. Kapka is also keenly interested in literary translation, cultural hybridism and eastern Europe during and post-Cold War. She contributes reviews, travel and feature articles to the Guardian, the Scottish Review of Books and Intelligent Life.

Bram Vermeulen is a Dutch journalist, correspondent and documentary maker obsessed with borders and migration. His relentless work as correspondent in Southern Africa and then Turkey has often led him to investigate risky realities in troubled borderlands. He has produced and presented the award-winning TV series In Turkey (2011), Along the borders of Turkey (2012), Straight through Africa (2014), and De Trek (2016) about migration in and out of Africa. He was voted Journalist of the Year in 2008, won the Dick Scherpenzeelprijs and the Lira Correspondentenprijs for best foreign reporting (2013) and the Herman Wekkerprijs (2014) for best reporting from English speaking countries.

Bram Beelaert is a historian, curator and Head of Research at the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp, which displays an eventful journey in the footsteps of European emigrants. Its collection and exhibitions are all about the stories of the passengers who travelled to North America with the Red Start Line, in search of happiness and a better future. Bram is an expert on interpreting migration at museums and historic sites, and on illuminating the relation between migration and memory, cultural heritage and global identity.

Good to know:

  • 20/11/2018 at 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM
  • Full Circle House – Chaussée de Vleurgat 89, Ixelles 1050

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