The Unsettling of Europe: How Migration Reshaped a Continent

Peter Gatrell photographed by Andrew Winstone
Peter Gatrell photographed by Andrew Winstone

2021 Prize in History and the Social Sciences

The Unsettling of Europe: How Migration Reshaped a Continent

by Peter Gatrell
Professor of Economic History, The University of Manchester

Published by Basic Books

Jury Statement

“A sweeping, empathic, and deeply human story of post-1945 European migration, Peter Gatrell’s ‘The Unsettling of Europe: How Migration Reshaped a Continent’ is a work of astounding scope and exquisite detail, covering the whole continent, including Russia and the former Soviet satellite states of Eastern Europe, stretching as far as the Caucasus and Kazakhstan. With his compelling focus on individuals and cultures, Gatrell treats migration as a phenomenon inherent to the human experience and thus shared by Europeans East and West, North and South. He constructs his narrative based on prodigious research, interweaving individual testimonials, literature and film with government documents to delineate dramatic personal experiences of migrants – from decisions to leave their homes and endure endless hardships in transit to their reception by the communities they wish to join and integrate into as well as by local and national governments. 

Unsettling Of Europe by Peter Gatrell

“True to his panoramic approach, Gatrell explores both transnational and internal migration and demonstrates that both have been as important in shaping society and economy in Eastern Europe as in Central and Western Europe. Far from being a drain on the economy or a cultural detriment to the host societies, as many of the old fallacies suggest and which Gatrell debunks, migrants have made enormous contributions to Europe’s dramatic enrichment and cultural vitality since 1945. In telling Europe’s postwar story through the lens of migration, Gatrell also reminds us of how intrinsic migration and migrants had been to the European experience in the decades, indeed centuries, prior to 1945.

“Superbly conceived and executed, comprehensive, and accessible, ‘The Unsettling of Europe’ is a major contribution, a real tour de force that will be read with profit by scholars, policymakers, and anyone who wants to know more about Europe and its people.”

2021 Final Jury

Pamela Ballinger
Professor of History and Fred Cuny Chair in the History of Human Rights
University of Michigan

Semion Lyandres
Professor of History
University of Notre Dame

A. James McAdams
William M. Scholl Professor of International Affairs
University of Notre Dame

Jan Palmowski
Secretary-General of the Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities and
Professor of Modern History
University of Warwick

Sonja Puntscher Riekmann
Professor Emerita of Political Theory and European Politics at the University of Salzburg and
Research Fellow at the Salzburg Centre of European Union Studies