Renegotiating the city: Surveillance and refugee integration in German urban communities

Authors: Miao-ling Hasenkamp*,
Topics: Immigration/Transnationalism, Urban Geography, Human Rights
Keywords: moral urbanism; refugee resettlement and integration in Germany and the United States; antiterror surveillance measures; spatiality and sociality of the city
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: 8226, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper investigates the politics of refugee transition and integration at state and local levels in Germany following the migration influx in summer 2015. How do cities negotiate and redefine themselves while tackling these new situations? How do local populations and newcomers approach those realities, in which different subjectivities elaborate their claims with justification? What are the differences and similarities found in the politics of asylum in the city between the United States and Germany? This paper aims to find first responses and to identify appropriate tools while examining the interactions between political events and policy decisions at macro-level and refugee positionality and urban development at micro-level. Supported by critical geography, securitization, ethnographic approaches, the paper detects the changing character of spaces of the city and presents three accounts centered on: unequal burden and multiple tasks faced by local authorities to address both humanitarian and security concerns; urban community responses and strategies; the city both as a site of sanctuary and contestation. Its finding detects the failure of German asylum politics which has been overburdened with the pitfalls of violating the rule of law and suspicion of corruption due to the lack of clearly-defined guidelines In arguing for striking a proper balance between moral urbanism and the logic of control, this paper underlines the importance of new self-help strategies and initiatives (e.g. refugees as benefactors (Stifter)) introduced by urban communities which might well rewrite the public imaginary of the city.

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