2nd Turkish-German Frontiers of Social Science Symposium 2016

Design of the Symposium

"Forced Migration: Structures, Actors, Processes"

Many countries currently receive, and often already host, large numbers of refugees. A major source region for forced migration at present is the Middle East, in particular Syria. With the intensification of violence in Syria, but also in several other parts of the Middle East, massive numbers of civilians, forcefully uprooted from their communities, have fled and continue to flee conflict zones, seeking shelter both in the region and in countries of the European Union. In parallel, persisting poverty in an increasingly interconnected world entails that people leave their homes for lack of economic perspectives. Among recipient countries of the current refugee crisis, Turkey and Germany rank prominently. The summary total of Syrian refugees residing in Turkey is likely to exceed 2 million, while Germany has witnessed the arrival of about 1 million refugees in 2015 alone among which many came from Syria.

Mass movements of refugees, such as the one we are currently witnessing, entail multifaceted challenges in the economic, political, social, and legal realm, and bring together actors (refugees, host societies, state apparatuses, and international organizations) with different positions in power inequalities as well as divergent priorities and interests. To adequately grasp and understand these challenges, and to produce reasonable answers to pressing questions, there is need for an encompassing and interdisciplinary approach to the phenomenon of forced migration and its challenges, one that recognizes and reflects its complexity, including in situations of mixed flows.

Amongst others, key questions of concern include the following. How do we resolve questions of human security while refraining from discourses of criminalization and victimization? How do we capture refugees’ own experiences in coming up with viable solutions to new economic, legal, and political challenges their mobility raises? What are the existing legal and policy instruments, which can be utilized and/or contested for ensuring cooperation between countries? What are the economic and political outcomes expected on the part of individual nation-states? How do we analyze and respond to issues ranging from demographic pressures, host country resistances, rise of xenophobic movements around questions of “who belongs” in the nation-state to policy oriented ones such as those on public services, especially in education and health, the labor market, and legal instruments concerning residence and citizenship?

This conference is motivated by, and reflects, the complexity of this ongoing crisis, but draws also, where useful, from past experiences of forced migration. It focuses on the structures, actors and processes relevant to forced migration, its challenges and consequences, by considering perspectives from economics, political science, legal science, and sociology. This interdisciplinary approach brings to the table different thematic concerns as well as methodological angles. It allows for discussions on the structures relevant to forced migration, on the processes that unravel before, during and in the aftermath of crisis situations, and on the actual actors, i.e. the people involved. Integrating these various perspectives serves the purpose of identifying the different moving parts of the puzzle of forced migration in all its complexity and of starting a discussion on reasonable solutions to the above-mentioned questions.

Economics Session:
Challenges and Consequences of Forced Migration to Turkey and Germany

Many countries, among them Germany and Turkey, currently receive, and often already host, large numbers of refugees. Accommodating and providing for these refugees entail various economic challenges for those host countries: the housing of refugees puts strains on public finances, social welfare systems, the education system, and the labor market. The mass influx of forced migrants also raises issues about domestic social and political cohesion, various degrees of inter-group tensions as well international quandaries and inter-country conflicts about a fair allocation of refugees. The objective of this panel is to contribute both thematically and methodologically to a better understanding of the economic challenges and consequences of forced migration to Turkey and Germany. Thematically, it seeks to identify the major economic challenges and consequences that these host countries face, e.g. on labor markets, in the education system, or in their public finances, review the available evidence that exists in these and other areas, and provide, wherever possible, guidance for policy in how to best address these. The session also seeks to look at experiences of economic wellbeing from the perspective of refugees and contribute methodologically to questions which have a long history in disciplines other than economics, e.g. concerning the determinants of anti-foreign sentiments, providing an alternative (economic) look at such issues. Whenever of use, the session will draw on experiences and evidence from past (forced) migration episodes.

Law Session:
EU-Turkey Cooperation on Refugee Protection in Mass Influx Scenarios

Cooperation between the EU and Turkey on migratory matters has a long tradition starting with the 1963 Association Agreement and related documents, which have been the object of numerous ECJ judgments in recent decades. More recently, the emphasis has shifted towards refugee and asylum policy: during the year 2015, the so-called ‘Eastern Mediterranean Route’ became the primary point of entry for refugees and migrants trying to reach the European Union. As a result, cooperation between the EU and Turkey on migration and asylum policy has become a pivotal element of the EU’s response to the ongoing refugee crisis. The law session will link the general debate about refugee protection in mass influx scenarios to the ongoing cooperation between the EU and Turkey. Potential topics concern the presentation and evaluation of initiatives at national, supra- or international level. The papers presented at the panel will highlight the significance of political and institutional actors at national, supra- or international level and illustrate the conceptual and practical relevance of legal norms and concepts defining and implementing an effective immigration and asylum policy in the EU-Turkey context.

Politics Session:
Cohesion and Identity in the Context of Forced Migration to Turkey and Germany

Turkey’s role in the market of international migration has changed into migrant receiving country in the last decades. The largest wave targeting the country has been the Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war in neighboring country Syria. Thus, Turkey encounters issues of integration and cohesion in the realm of a massive refugee movement in addition to incoherencies in the legal and political framework complicating migrant reception schemas of Turkey. What’s more to the domestic issues, the issue of Syrian refugees has spread over to the EU causing a crisis known as the ‘European refugee crisis’. Currently, the EU and especially Germany are faced with a to-date unknown dimension of challenge with the new immigration wave of refugees. Parallel, Germany is seeing the rise of right-wing populist movements which take well advantage of xenophobic resentment for violent attacks against refugees in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s mission statement "We’ll manage it" attempts to counter the socially dangerous tendencies; more so by pointing out that EU borders are to remain open despite all resistance coming from some EU member states. Thus, Germany will need a narrative, an identitarian mission statement, because the new immigration will put Europe to a crucial test. The politics session addresses the refugee issue by focusing on the challenges that the movement has brought by on Germany and Turkey. Thus, within a political scientific framework, the session deals with questions pertaining to policies of integration, identity, cohesion and countering resentment in both countries.

Sociology Session:
Current Refugee Movements between Migrants’ Agency and Institutional Constrains

The session will situate the analysis of the contemporary refugee’s movements at the junction between migrant agency on the one hand, and political opportunity structures on the other. Such a lens underscores individuals’ practices of mobility, their motivations and experiences in the context of their self- valuation, thus enabling a more interdisciplinary approach to mobility that takes seriously anthropology’s emphasis on the emic perspective. Second, such a perspective also points to the significance of the institutional opportunity structures which enable but also constrain individual agency. Political regulations on asylum are prominent institutional constrains, working in tandem with labor market regulations as well as the gender and citizenship regimes of the receiving countries. Third, using a comparative perspective, the proposed session will enable situating the analysis of current refugee movements at the dialectical interplay between the life chances and life conditions of mobile people.


Stephanie Dill
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
Markgrafenstraße 37
10117 Berlin


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