IIS - Helma Lutz - 19/05/2023

 IMG-20230506-WA0000 1

NASP International and Interdisciplinary Seminars

Helma Lutz (Goethe University Frankfurt)
All Refugees Welcome?
The role of Gender and European-ness in the Treatment of Refugees
Chair: Paola Rebughini (University of Milan)


19 may 2023, h. 14.30
NASP Graduate School in Social and Political Science
Room B, Via Pace 10 Milan 



During the so-called 'Summer of Migration' (2015) large numbers of German civil society supported refugees, many of them from Syria. This engagement slowed down in particular after the 'Cologne events'. With the beginning of the Russian war on Ukraine in Spring 2022, an unprecedented civil engagement for flight migrants occurred. 1 million refugees are currently registered in Germany. They are welcomed with sympathy, immediate legal protection, and financial support. The schooling of children and language courses for grownups are facilitated, as well as immediate access to the labour market. Gender relations are at the heart of any migration and flight movement (see Lutz et al 1995, Lutz/Amelina 2017), but this one in particular illustrates a gendered vulnerability which the US scholar Cynthia Enloe (2014) calls "womenandchildren on the run", a picture of the topicality of traditional gender binaries: heroic, military masculinity and feminized vulnerability.
Welcome culture encompasses the voluntary practices of solidarity, welcome, support and assistance, and includes the politicization of neighbourhoods, districts, communities and (border) regions in civil society (see Dinkelaker et al. 2021; Tietje 2021; van Dyk/Kessl 2021; van Dyk et al. 2021; Tietje/Tuider 2019). Controlling and regulating the flow of refugees but also balancing and improving state infrastructures are the ex- and implicit tasks of solidarity welcome initiatives and refugee work. We ask what impact gender, religion and the 'European-ness' of the migrants have on the consistently positive discourse about Ukrainian refugees, on the generous offering of asylum, the welcoming culture in transnational post-migration society in Germany (see Foroutan 2019; Hill/Yildiz 2018; Faist 2020; Mau 2007).
In this contribution a discourse analytical will be used - inspired by a perspective on the 'welcoming-rejection modus' of refugees in Germany from a post-socialist and post-colonialist lens (Boatcă & Parvulescu 2020) and their impacts on support work for refugees; in addition, I will take into consideration the long shadows of German fascism, in particular the role of the Germany in Ukraine, analysing the terms of images and tropes produced in this debate.
Current solidarity with refugees from Ukraine in Germany involves a discursive representation of Ukraine's location as in "the Centre of Europe", and as a culturally close European neighbour. This reference to 'European-ness' in public discourses and support work is often based on 'Whiteness' and 'Christianity' and has an impact on the definition of the affective proximity in the case of Ukrainians. It stands in stark contrast to the 'Othering' of former flight migrants from non-European parts of the world.
In this contribution I analyse the images and discourses of perceived proximity to culture, ethnicity /'race' and religion in the reception and support work for refugees. It can be assumed that in current solidarity activities the 'European-ness' of the victims of war becomes an important marker for the definition of closeness and the justification of solidarity work. This analysis includes a focus on the treatment of non-white groups fleeing from Ukraine: African and Indian students, their families and the members of the Sinti and Roma minority.

This seminar is part of the NASP International and Interdisciplinary Seminars Series 2023.

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