MAGnituDe - a new project under the Horizon Programme


Project team, photo by dr Marta Grzechnik

Investigating the consequences of mass population displacement in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine for European democracy and presenting evidence-based strategies to combat negative trends such as growing social antagonism and identity fragmentation - these are the main aims of the project MAGnituDe: Migration, Affective Geopolitics, and European Democracy in Times of Military Conflicts. The project was funded by the Horizon Programme.

Russia's war against Ukraine has triggered unprecedented levels of forced displacement into the European Union (EU) and neighbouring countries. As of November 2023, there are almost six million Ukrainian refugees in Europe. While Ukrainians were quickly offered temporary protection status, it is currently uncertain what status they will be granted thereafter. However, many forcibly displaced people plan to remain in the EU even after the war ends.

MAGnituDe analyses:

  1. How Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the trauma associated with it shape the daily encounters of forcibly displaced persons with state institutions, other migrants and host societies.
  2. What role such encounters play in the emergence of both new social conflicts and new communities, and what identities are supported by these processes.
  3. How these encounters affect forcibly displaced people's trust in and engagement with host country democracies and democratic practices.
  4. What tools, policies, and frameworks help prevent social alienation and identity fragmentation among forcibly displaced people and support their sense of belonging and participation in democratic processes and societies.

The impulse for the birth of the project concept MAGnituDe (Migration, Affective Geopolitics, and European Democracy in Times of Military Conflicts / Migration, Affective Geopolitics, and European Democracy in Times of Military Conflicts) was the massive influx of refugees caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This triggered our reflection on how this influx of people forced to move against their will and often carrying deep traumas can affect European democracy. In doing so, we wanted to approach the subject constructively and propose solutions that could serve to strengthen democracy, particularly at the local level, for example by fostering a sense of belonging among forcibly displaced people in their new surroundings,’ says project leader dr Marta Grzechnik.

In order to maintain the sustainable impact of the project, which will extend beyond its life cycle, the project's impact strategy targets not only migrants, but also civil society, policy makers, social policy implementers, journalists and researchers. The project analyses the social consequences of the Russian war in Ukraine for European societies and suggests measures to overcome the exacerbating social antagonisms and fragmentation of identities and to improve trust in democratic institutions.

MAGnituDe also provides a better understanding of the interactions between migration and other policy areas (education, housing, work) and thus contributes to evidence-based strategies for the management of war-related migration and the integration of forcibly displaced persons into European societies. In this way, the MAGnituDe project contributes to Horizon Europe 2021-2024's key strategic direction of 'building a more resilient, inclusive and democratic European society, prepared and responsive to risks and disasters'.

The funding obtained is €3,000,000, of which €149,871 goes to the University of Gdańsk. The project on the UG side is led by dr Marta Grzechnik from the Faculty of Languages. dr Elżbieta Czapka and dr hab. Maja Grabkowska from the Faculty of Social Sciences are also involved in the project on the UG side.

The initiator of the project is dr Olga Sasunkevich from the University of Gothenburg. Nine institutions from different countries - both universities and non-profit organisations - are involved in the collaboration. ‘Our team is therefore international, but also interdisciplinary: it includes researchers with broad expertise in the social sciences and humanities, as well as people with experience of working with forcibly displaced people. On the University of Gdańsk's side, apart from myself, Dr Elżbieta Czapka and Dr hab. Maja Grabkowska, both from the Faculty of Social Sciences, are involved. My task, as a historian specialising in recent history, is to provide a historical context for a better understanding of current events, including the problems that can occur in contacts between different population groups, which areoften rooted in the past,’ explains dr Marta Grzechnik. - ' Receiving funding from Horizon Europe is a signal to us of how important and topical such topics are in the context of European democracy, which gives us motivation for further activities. The project will start at the beginning of 2025 and will last four years,' adds the project manager.

Edit. Julia Bereszczyńska/Press Team