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The conference takes place on the centenary of the 1922 forced displacement that followed a decade of warfare between Greece and the Ottoman Empire. The 1923 Treaty of Lausanne legalised the forced movement of more than a million Greek Christians to Greece and that of approximately 400,000 Muslims to Turkey. The departure and arrival of both sets of refugees left indelible marks on both states and societies with the memory of refugeedom remaining strong today among all those of refugee descent.
Fast forward 100 years, Greece and Turkey are again at the epicentre of forced migrations, in what has become known as “Europe’s refugee crisis”. Greece is one of the main gateways to the EU for thousands of people on the move every year, while Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees worldwide. However, migration to, settlement in, and movement between the two countries is met with a number of challenges for forced migrants: the militarisation of borders, the erection of physical barriers, economic crises, political instability, populism, power politics, old rivalries, and a pandemic have posed insurmountable obstacles to people seeking refuge in recent times.
The centenary of the Greco-Turkish population exchange offers an opportunity to reflect on how forced migrations are remembered, lived, experienced and governed in the two countries and beyond.