Author: RESPOND Team (Page 2 of 2)

Gender in the German Refugee Debate – Reflections on Shortcomings, Side-effects, and Pitfalls

By Johanna Elle (Georg-August Universität Göttingen) and Sabine Hess (Georg-August Universität Göttingen).

Since summer 2015, there have been a number of remarkable shifts in gender awareness in the context of flight and migration in the German refugee debate. The attention paid to gender-specific issues in the press and politics soared quite abruptly in 2015 so that we gender researchers with longstanding experience could not believe our eyes. Up and down the country, the major newspapers asked questions such as “Where are all the mothers and daughters from the crisis areas?” (Spiegel Online, 9 September 2015) and “Why do the photos show only young men?” (Stuttgarter Zeitung, 10 September 2015). They tried to find answers: As early as July 2015, a headline explained “Why asylum seekers are predominantly male” (Süddeutsche Zeitung 27 July 2015). When the women were finally “found”, most reports agreed that women and children were especially vulnerable and subject to violence ­­– particularly sexualised, gender-based violence – to an above average extent in their countries of origin, along the migration route and in the country of destination. From then on, the “protection gap” topos (Süddeutsche Zeitung, 14 January 2016) dominated the discourse about the particular challenges that confront female refugees, also in the context of their reception. Although we gender researchers welcomed this shift in the beginning as a belated acknowledgment of the centrality of gender as a structural category for the field of migration and flight, we quickly had to recognise that this new gender awareness came along with a series of shortcomings, side- and boomerang effects. In the following chapters, we will therefore roughly outline how these discourses were structured and point to some of the side effects and pitfalls we observed based on an on-going ethnographic research project on “gender in reception policies and the politics of arrival”.

 How gender enters the refugee debate – a short genealogy

Since summer 2015, some of the discussions held and reports published have indeed attempted to outline the complexity of gender-specific root causes for flight as well as gender-specific challenges upon arrival. Many, however, have remained superficial, not only producing a highly binary interpretation of gender policy, but also introducing a reductive approach to the problem that has had far-reaching consequences. On the one hand, this type of reporting represented female refugees primarily as vulnerable and passive actors in need of protection, and narrowed the problem of being systematically exposed to violence down to predominantly sexualised and interpersonal violence. This soon turned smugglers and male refugees who were fleeing with them into the biggest threat, and not, for instance, the militarised border apparatus and the violence of border patrols. At the same time, the articles introduced the figure of the “dangerous unaccompanied male refugee” who is posing a danger to “German society” in general. Many months before the incidents in Cologne on New Year’s Eve, sociologist Armin Nassehi already warned against a “masculinisation of the public space” as a consequence of the arrival of mainly young male refugees (Die Welt, 5 October 2015).

The events in Cologne on that New Year’s Eve irreversibly corroborated the new threat and contributed to a change in the societal attitude towards refugee movements. In the guise of sexism complaints, Cologne and the subsequent heated discourse on dealing with what happened there revealed a potential for articulating racism that had not been known before (Dietze 2016). It was also in this volatile climate that Kai Wegner, a Member of the German Bundestag from Berlin from the conservative CDU party, published his proposal in February 2017 to introduce a quota regulation for refugees, this time arguing in favour of women: male refugees were to be turned back at the borders once a certain quota had been reached. The conservative MP claimed that in doing so, a “balance” and “peaceful coexistence” could be maintained, while women and children as “persons in need of protection” would still find refuge (Berlin CDU MP Kai Wegner, 10 March 2017). Wegner thus took up the gender argument, as many others have in recent years, to restrict the migration of refugees to Germany.

This increased public debate on  the particular challenges and the protection needs of “women and children” – usually mentioned in the same breath – was well-received politically, particularly by actors in the field of gender equality; also here, it led to a new focus on the specific interests and needs of this group of women. Concepts for protection against violence were drafted at the national, regional and municipal levels, referencing international agreements. Numerous integration projects were also put in place that are tailored to refugee women in emergency situations as we will show in more detail in the second part of this article.

Since 2017, another discursive shift  has become noticeable: while the flight paths were more or less cut off due to the closure of the Balkan route and the so-called EU-Turkey and Italy-Libya deals (Hess/Kasparek 2018), and international media shifted their attention to other regions of the world, the refugee debate in Germany has increasingly been framed as a debate on integration and deportation. Also here, gender relations, especially the topos of gender equality, have gained a prominent position on the agenda for measuring ostensible integration progresses and stumbling blocks. Programmes concerned with integration have thus increasingly become a “task” for gender equality actors. Against the backdrop of the threat of forced deportations, the “integration imperative” (Hess/Moser 2009) is now gaining essential governmental significance in regulating the migration of refugees, where refugee women are not only addressed as a group in need of protection but are ascribed a special role in integration efforts.

The following section will shed light on how gender is articulated in reference to discourses on protection and integration as the main discursive threads in the field of gendered reception policies. What (culturalised) gender models are invoked and/or reproduced by what effect? What impact does this have on local practices?

Protection measures – or: the policy of minimum standards

A “feminist boom” as regards the protection needs of refugee women in accommodation centres can be observed not only in media discussions but also at the policy level (see Neuhauser/ Hess/ Schwenken 2016). The Institute for Human Rights issued a warning in 2015: “Especially the protection against gender-specific violence and sexual harassment in accommodation centres is hardly being addressed at the moment. This particularly affects vulnerable groups of refugees, such as women, who make up about one third of the asylum seekers, and gay, bisexual, trans* and inter* people (LGBTI).” (Rabe 2015: 3). Internationally, the topic of protection (against violence) in providing care and accommodation for refugees has been playing a role for more than 20 years. Besides a multitude of guidelines from the UNHCR and other NGOs, agreements such as the so-called Istanbul Convention and the EU’s Reception Directive, which was intended to be transposed into national legislation by 2015, are cases in point. In Germany, however, there has been practically no movement in this regard in the past few years. With the exception of including gender-based flight causes in the asylum recognition procedure with the amendment of the Immigration Act in 2004, nothing significant has been undertaken concerning this problem by either the state or by large welfare associations.

Since 2016, however, numerous concepts, guidelines and demands have emerged at all levels authored by a variety of players, which make the field of refugee reception a highly dynamic field, also in terms of gender policy. The federal protection-concept, published in 2017 in its second revised edition with the title “Minimum standards for the protection of refugees in accommodation centres”, shows an especially differentiated approach. In their conceptualization, the authors – the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, UNICEF and a number of other welfare associations and feminist NGOs – focus not only on the aspect of interpersonal violence; their package of measures rather primarily addresses structural shortcomings and problems in accommodation centres and the welfare system. Its pillars include an in-house protection concept, personnel management in each facility, as well as taking into consideration architectural, social work and general legalconditions that foster human dignity, protection and support. Unfortunately, the comprehensive and carefully written paper remains at the recommendation level with about 100 pilot projects, as it was apparently not possible to find consensus for including “the minimum standards” in one of the many legal revisions of the asylum and integration regime of the last two years.

This shortcoming in the legal foundation is typical of all these protection concepts formulated as “minimum standards” for decent and safe accommodation of refugees in Germany. A great number of analyses of provisions for reception and accommodation at the national, regional and municipal levels fundamentally point out a considerable under-definition of legal and structural conditions and a lack of legally binding regulations, which are the predominant reasons behind the existing unsatisfactory safety situation in accommodation centres. Our survey “Life beyond minimum standards. A documentation of the situation in asylum seeker accommodation centres in Lower Saxony” (Elle/Hess 2018) also shows that, notwithstanding international agreements, there is an enormous discrepancy between concept and administration on the one hand and practical implementation on the other, because to date there is still no legally binding political, legal and financial framing whatsoever. Our study reveals, for instance, that this affects very basic conditions such as clean washrooms, sufficient living space and conflict-preventing and flexible accommodation practices oriented towards the needs of the refugees, as well as access to information to enable arriving and starting a new life in exile in a dignified manner. The numerous newly designed programmes, in contrast, with their often narrow focus on “particularly vulnerable” people, such as women travelling alone (with their children) and their specific problems, thus often change accordingly little in the general reality of the lives of refugees. Conversely, such special programmes turn into a tiny “band-aid” for a large problem. In addition, their orientation towards “protection” and their focus on vulnerability instead of the strength of these refugee women who made their way to Germany, also encourages a victimising, paternalistic line of argument expressed in the consensus to want to “save” these refugee women. The anthropologist and researcher in the field of humanitarianism, Miriam Ticktin (2011), asks in her analysis of the “politics of care”: “What does ‘doing good’ actually end up doing?” This is exactly the question that one can currently ask in view of the very basic problems that refugees are continuously reporting: the constricted space, the inadequate hygienic conditions, the lack of a private sphere or of appropriate rooms to retreat as well as the absence of any gender-sensitive architecture, as well as very basic separate facilities for men and women in many of the mass accommodation centres. Refugee councils and welfare associations have been calling for nation-wide legally binding and sustainable regulations and reception concepts for many years, but they have not been heard.

There is an ambivalence between a very necessary protection (against all kinds of structural and personal forms of violence) and the symbolic “band-aid” function which can be the fate of violence protection measures in the face of the highly-problematic basic structures of reception and accommodation policies. As our research demonstrates, violence protection measures are used by municipal actors to award mass accommodation centres – notwithstanding their structural production of deprivation, dependency and uncertainty as very fertile grounds for violence – a “certificate of good standing”. Our research also shows that the access to protection, care and better housing does not constitute a universal right for all refugee women as “persons in need of protection”. Rather, these kinds of special programmes and protection measures are often only accessible for refugees “with a good prospect to stay”. This new category has mainly been introduced to exclude all other refugee groups from certain social and integration measures from the very beginning. In this respect, also special women programmes turn out to be another tool for practicing differential inclusions within German society (Mezzadra/Neilson 2013) – or put differently: an intentional withdrawal of protection is politically intended to increase the refugees’ willingness to return to their countries of origin.

This point leads us to our second thread, the integration discourse as yet another policy field of gender-specific action. Decent and safe housing – and living for that matter – can be considered a vital foundation for arriving and integrating into a society. In this respect, “integration”, as we understand it, is about being given opportunities and rights to participate; but instead, in practice a rather repressive integration/deportation-complex has been emerging in the last two years.

Equality and integration imperative

After a phase that has been commonly regarded as an “emergency situation” or a “crisis” concerned with “saving people”, in 2017 (also in the run-up to the general elections) Germany is increasingly returning to containing and controlling the “consequences of the refugee crisis”. In this context, a “hectic integrationism” can be observed at the national, regional and municipal levels, which entails integrationist programmes and policies that are explicitly addressing refugee women in a highly special manner. There are integration and language programmes designed for them, but these women are also to be trained in “gender competences”, as if this was a “traditional element of German culture”. In the name of “integration”, refugee women are requested to attend language courses, to have strangers look after their children, and, where possible, to integrate themselves into the labour market immediately, while, at the same time, ensuring that their entire family is “integrating” as well.

During these efforts, terms such as “our society”, “our values”, and “our Leitkultur” (see for instance (De Maiziere in Zeit Online 30 April 2017,) are increasingly also finding their way into political discussions of actors aiming at gender equality. In their new book “Differentiating and Conquering”, the two gender researchers Sabine Hark and Paula-Irene Villa show how the emphasis on “our liberal, egalitarian, western consensus” is structuring the asylum discourse of all the different political camps (Hark/Villa 2017: 10). The topic of “gender equality” is experiencing a particular boom in the context of integration policy. Especially the repressive integration/deportation-complex ascribes a central role to this theme to determine integration deficits or to draw ethno-culturalist differentiating lines between us and them with the astonishing effect that even the new right-wing populist party “Alternative for Germany” appears as a gender equality actor par excellence.

However, this is not a new phenomenon. Various scholars have been describing the difficult relationship between feminism and anti-racism time and again. It has a long tradition, and referring to women’s political demands and gender equality already took place in colonial contexts; Colonialism legitimised itself by claiming to set out to rescue “the women of the South” from their backwardness and patriarchal cultures (Mohanty 2003; Castro Varela/ Dhawan 2016). This not only had the welcoming effect that western societies could deem themselves emancipated, but also had the consequence that western feminists enthusiastically joined the colonial project. This colonial project is echoed in the discourses and policies established in the field of “integration”. Even today, the relationship between those who help and speak and those who are helped and seldomly heard follows this international asymmetry. Therefore sensitivity in gender equality policy-making is required to avoid being used as agents in the “feminist disciplining of the migrant subject” (Erdem 2009: 194).


Castro Varela, M./Dhawan, N. (2016): Die Migrantin retten. Zum vertrackten Verhältnis von Geschlechtergewalt, Rassismus und Handlungsmacht. In: Österreichische Zeitschrift für Soziologie,  41 , S. 13-28

Dietze, Gabriele (2016): Das ‚Ereignis Köln‘, Femina Politica, 1, S. 93-102,

Elle, Johanna/Hess, Sabine (2018): Leben jenseits von Mindeststandards. Dokumentation zur Situation in Gemeinschaftsunterkünften in Niedersachsen. Im Auftrag des Rats für Migration.

Hark, Sabine / Villa(2017): Unterscheiden und Herrschen. Bielfeld: transcript.

Hess, Sabine/ Neuhauser, Johanna and Helen Schwenken (2017): Wie lässt sich genderanalytisch auf Geschlecht und Flucht blicken? Skizze eines Forschungsprogramms. In: Onnen, Corinna/Rode-Breymann, Susanne (Hrsg.): Zum Selbstverständnis der Gender Studies. Methoden – Methodologien – theoretische Diskussionen und empirische Übersetzungen. Barbara Budrich: Opladen/Berlin, S. 71-88

Hess, Sabine/ Kasparek Bernd (2017): De- and Restabilising Schengen. The European Border Regime After the Summer of Migration. In: Cuadernos Europeos de Deusto: Governing Mobility in Europe: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, 56 , S. 47-78,

Hess, Sabine/ Moser, Johannes (2009): Jenseits der Integration. Kulturwissenschaftliche Betrachtungen einer Debatte. In: Sabine Hess / Jana Binder / Johannes Moser (Hg.): No integration?! Kulturwissenschaftliche Beiträge zur Integrationsdebatte in Europa. Transcript: Bielefeld, S.11-26

Mezzadra,  Sando/ Neilson, Brett (2013): Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor. Duke University Press. Durham

Mohanty, Chandra Talpade (2003). Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, Duke University Press Books, Durham.. ISBN 978-0822330219

Rabe,Heike (2015): Policy Paper Nr. 32: Effektiver Schutz vor geschlechtsspezifischer Gewalt – auch in Flüchtlingsunterkünften. Berlin: Institut für Menschenrechte. ISBN: 978-3-945139-71-4.

Post-“Crisis” Austria: Recent Figures and Trends in Political Approaches to Asylum

By Ivan Josipovic (Austrian Academy of Sciences) and Ursula Reeger (Austrian Academy of Sciences).

Austria has a long tradition as a destination country for migrants and refugees. It is a country that for decades promoted labour migration and admitted refugees during the communist era of Eastern Europe as well as during the Balkan Wars. The notion of the latest advent of mass migration to Austria relates to the increasing number of asylum applications since 2013 and in particular in 2015. In that year alone, application numbers reached a six-decade high of 88,000 persons, while thousands of refugees crossed the country for their onward journey. This latest phase also displays novelties concerning the composition of the newcomers in terms of countries of origin. The three largest groups of asylum applicants in 2015, namely Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis, are relatively new to Austria. In 2017, 102,000 persons born in one of these three countries were registered in Austria, compared to 16,000 in 2011.

Often referred to as a period of crisis, by 2018 Austria has doubtlessly left behind a general state of perceived overextension regarding the issues of refugee reception and integration. While a suggested normalization of course implies the problem of referring to an alleged norm, there are at least three alleviating circumstances that statistically support the argument of increased control over or at least the governability of forced migration and migrant integration.

First, the number of asylum applications is in continuing decline since November 2015, with 6,113 people having lodged an application from January to May 2018. In 2017 already, figures had dropped beneath the pre-crisis level of 2014 (see Figure 1). Border management facilities including fences, tents, and containers at Spielfeld, the major crossing point to Slovenia, are left empty. Early preparations for fencing the frontiers at the crossing point Nickelsdorf towards Hungary have been curbed as well. Screws and fencing material are held at disposition for a possible quick intervention (Picture 1).

Second, the number of asylum applicants in reception facilities has dropped beneath 60,000 persons by mid-2018, a figure that is expected to further decline with sinking asylum applications. In regions like Upper Austria, large-scale facilities are increasingly shut down and most regions attempt to foster individual accommodations. Likewise, the number of open applications at the Federal Office for Immigration and Asylum has halved from around 60,000 cases in March 2016 to 31,500 cases by January 2018.

Third, labour market integration of beneficiaries of asylum and subsidiary protection slightly surpasses early prognosis. The Austrian Labour Market Service reports that of those granted a title in 2015, 26.2 per cent had found an employment by October 2017, of those receiving their title in 2016 around 16.8 per cent had done so. Initial calculations had predicted that it would take five years to integrate half of the newly arrived into the labour market.

However, reducing the political crisis associated with increased migratory movements to mere quantities obscures the deep contradictions underlying contemporary statehood and migration governance in Europe. The balancing of the constitutionally enshrined right to asylum with an unresolved question of EU-wide distribution of refugees, or the reconciliation of integration policies with a highly regulated labour market and a selective welfare state are certainly two permanent struggles to be named. It is needless to say that due to the lack of consistent long term solutions, the topic remains a hotly politicized matter, promising for electoral gains if picked up and framed in accordance with needs and feelings of a certain audience.

Thus, while it remains to be investigated how and to which degree the increasingly restrictive political responses might have affected immigration, it has by now become evident that immigration has vice versa had a strong impact on Austrian politics. The right-wing FPÖ which has traditionally held an issue ownership on this topic as well as the conservatives of ÖVP succeeded at the 2017 parliamentary elections, breaking (once again) the Austrian traditional pattern of grand coalitions. At the level of regions, which have crucial competences regarding the reception of asylum seekers and social aid services, we are witnessing an increasing divergence regarding allowances and different concepts of accommodation. At the EU level, Austria displays an engagement in a disintegration process of a core European polity, namely Schengen, with the repeated renewal of exemption provisions for control and the creation of a border police unit. Given these changing circumstances, it remains to be seen how political dynamics in a multi-level governed migration system will develop in the future and how rationales of a second wave of policies will be translated and dispersed during the Austrian presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2018.

Spotlight on RESPOND-er: Justyna Szalanska

By Justyna Szlanska.

My journey to RESPOND began in 2014, when I attended a conference, ‘From a Cradle of Civilization to a Globalizing Transit Region’ organized by the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul. With a group of academics and researchers from different disciplines like ethnology, psychology, archeology, political sciences, law and linguistics we discussed Turkey in the context of being a transit region witnessing an exchange of people, art and ideas. In fact, this process should be considered as including migration, since the latter is not only about the movement of people, but also about all of the things that people cannot live without.  Somehow, big politics frequently narrows migration to literal, dictionary understandings and creates and imposes this image of the process for the public. As a result, we face a production and reproduction of migration discourses, which often diverge from the real picture of the process.

My PhD research and my work for RESPOND are closely interlinked because both focus on political discourses in which migration is a key topic. Since I have a background in two areas: Political Sciences and Turkish studies, I would like to use the knowledge from both of them in my PhD dissertation. Therefore, in my PhD research, I focus on the interdependencies of two categories, namely, national identity and the foreign policy of Turkey. Since my aim is to show how national identity can be discursively created, I study the political discourse in Turkey by using the method of Discourse Analysis. The subject of my studies is Turkey’s foreign policy during Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule.

In order to illustrate the process of a discursive construction of identity, I am following the assumption that identity is a socially constructed phenomenon, and as such, it cannot exist independently from communities. The latter assumption is convergent with the theory of imagined communities of Benedict Anderson (Anderson 1991). Although the latter applies to nations, in fact identity and nation have much in common, especially in the case of national identity. For Foucault, identities and social beliefs are constituted in a discourse, as language is closely linked with power in society. As such, discourse is also an expression of social power, since it aims at imposing a specific meaning, signifiers, on language. (Foucault 1989).

The construction of identity is a two-fold process – first – the national Self and different and threatening Others are created, then there is a process of gradation of difference and Otherness (Hansen 2006, 37). In my dissertation I am applying Hansen’s theory of three different ways of identity construction: spatial, temporal and ethical (Hansen 2006, 46:51). Spatially constructed identity is an identity constituted relationally, which involves construction of boundaries and, hence, delineation of space. Spatial identity not only delineates different states – Russia, Syria, Iraq, but also creates different regions (Middle East, Near East, Eurasia). Spatial identity sometimes refers to people as well – since they are linked within a specific territory or space – for example, refugees, migrants, Westerners, Muslims. Temporal identity is closely related to various processes – progress, development, transformation, continuity, change, repetition. The Other is often described as ‘backward’, ‘tribal’, ‘savage’, ‘barbarian’, ‘primitive’, or ‘less developed’ and is distinguished by using specific expressions opposite to the Self. The Other doesn’t have to be external, but can be derived from the country’s or nation’s historical past.  In Turkey, the internal temporal Other are governments before AKP, in Poland, the internal Other is Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska) governments.

The ethical identity dimension is based on the assumption that foreign policy discourses always involve a construction of responsibility. Although the responsibility more often targets the national audience, hence governments like to emphasize their policies are pursued in the name of the national interest, in case of countries which are referred to as ‘powers’ or with ambitions to become an international or a regional power, an ‘international responsibility’ is raised. The latter is related to ethics and morality and is articulated as a responsibility of the Self towards the Other. The best example of ethical identity is the U.S. responsibility to promote democracy in the world. As for Turkey, ethical identity was firstly discursively created as responsibility towards the Muslim population in the world (their exemplary manifestations were: expression of support for people in the Gaza Strip during the Israeli operation of Leak Lead of 2008/2009, increasing development aid, the majority of which is focused on Muslim less developed countries; or support for the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar).  This was later transformed into the ‘ethical foreign policy’ (ilkesel dış politikası) concept of the then Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

As I mentioned earlier, refugees or immigrants can play a very significant role in creating an identity through political discourse. During recent election campaigns in many European countries, like Poland, Hungary or Austria, it was seen that playing a “migrant card” had a real influence on the election results and contributed to the populist U-turn in these countries. Considering Turkey, the hosting of approximately 3 million of Syrian refugees was used in two different ways: the ruling Justice and Development Party tried to win votes by appealing to the Muslim brotherhood and mercy, whereas opposition parties presented them directly or indirectly as a burden to the country’s economy. Hence, it proved that the language used by the leading politicians to describe refugees is chosen deliberately and with a specific political purpose. Having in mind the huge peril of the misusage of language towards a specific group of people, which was most witnessed during World War II, I find the RESPOND project to be a chance for an objective study of the phenomenon of the last refugee movement and for raising awareness about the possibility of a non-biased stance towards it.

Justyna’s Biography

Currently, I am a PhD Candidate in the Department of Journalism and Political Sciences at the University of Warsaw, Poland.  I write my PhD dissertation on the interdependencies of Turkey’s national identity influence and foreign policy. I did M.A. Diploma in International Relations and B.A. Diploma in Turkish Studies at the University of Warsaw. In 2011, I was a Research Trainee at BILGESAM, a Turkish think tank. My research interests focus on identity issues in Turkey and Europe, nationalism and populism relations and, last but not least, discourses towards migration and refugees. In 2014 I was awarded a TUBITAK Scholarship for Foreign Researchers. From November 2014 until May 2015, I was a Research Fellow at the Center of International and European Research at Kadir Has University (Turkey). Since December 2017, I have been a researcher at the Swedish Research Institute of Istanbul, also cooperating with the Centre of Migration Research at the University of Warsaw in relation to the RESPOND project.

First Results: Politicization and a Complex, Fragmented Legal Milieu in RESPOND Countries

Photograph of a protest march organised in Florence in reaction to the murder of Idy Diene, a Senegalese citizen. March 5, 2018. Credit: Silvia D’Amato.

By Veronica Federico (University of Florence), Silvia D’Amato (University of Florence), Andrea Terlizzi (University of Florence) and Paola Pannia (University of Florence).

RESPOND’s first  Work Package (WP 1), led by the University of Florence is titled, “Legal and policy framework: sustainability and interaction.” It aims to gather background information about the socio-economic, political, legal and institutional context of migration governance in Austria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iraq, Italy, Lebanon, Poland, Sweden, Turkey and the UK, as well as at the level of the European Union. To fulfil the main objectives, the tasks are organised in terms of three principal streams of activities: (1) gathering and critically analysing information on the political, legal and institutional context of migration governance, and illustrating national cases through country reports; (2) comparing the national case-studies and discussing the outcome in a comparative report; and (3) retrieving and systematizing a number of indicators available in the most relevant databases in order to create an ad hoc dataset on socio-economic, cultural, political and legal indicators on migration governance covering all RESPOND countries. The “Collection of Country Reports”- Deliverable D1.2 was submitted to the European Commission in mid-June and will be made public on the RESPOND website and on each RESPOND partners’ webpage in early August. Continue reading

RESPONDING to Research Challenges

By Susan Beth Rottmann (Özyeğin University)

The research challenges that RESPOND faces are enormous.  It is an ambitious project involving research in 11 countries with migrants from the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe who speak more than 15 different languages!  It also involves research with stakeholders who work in many different areas of migration management from border control to protection to housing and labor market integration.  The goal of the project is to sift through this diversity—to make sense of it—in order to understand where policies are failing and succeeding and, ultimately, to make policy recommendations.  Given this scope, how can we ensure that the information gathered through interviews with diverse migrants and stakeholders will be comparable and useful?  RESPOND researchers are political scientists, legal scholars, sociologists and anthropologists, each with their own methodological knowledge.  How can their expertise be integrated to ensure that that research is conducted with cultural, gender and psychological sensitivity?  What best practices for conducting research with victims of trauma will the project implement?  These are just some of the questions that RESPOND researchers debated at a meeting on May 25 and 26th at Glasgow Caledonian University.

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