Research Projects

Volunteering for Refugees in Europe:
Civil Society, Solidarity, and Forced Migration along the Balkan Route amid the failure of the Common European Asylum System
Principle Co-Investigator with Dr. Serhat Karakayali
Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies, University of Osnabrück, Germany
Funded by Gerda-Henkel Stiftung, July 2016 – June 2017.
Amid rising numbers of asylum seekers arriving in the EU and migrating along the Balkan route in 2015, state, EU and traditional NGO institutions failed to adequately receive, register and care for the new arrivals. Instead, volunteers stepped in to provide humanitarian assistance. They are locals as well as citizens from other European countries who engage with the crisis for a variety of reasons, in a range of contexts and with varying consequences. This research project will examine personal motives, social structures and political conditions of volunteering for refugees in countries along the so-called Balkan route: in Greece, in Slovenia, and in former Yugoslav countries. Based on political process tracing, sociological-ethnographic observations and semi-structured interviews with volunteers, officials, locals and refugees we will devise country reports that will create the basis for a comparative study. Thus, we will interrogate whether we can witness in this refugee policies ‚from below‘ the creation of a particular, pro-immigration and human rights based European civil society or social movement.

Ehrenamtliche Flüchtlingsarbeit (EFA) – Motive und Strukturen
Voluntary Work with Refugees – Motives and Structures

Principle Co-Investigator with Dr. Serhat Karakayali
Berliner Institut für empirische Integrations- und Migrationsforschung (BIM), Humboldt Universität
Institutional structures for the reception of asylum seekers and refugees in Germany have reached their limits due to constantly growing numbers of applicants. Thousands of volunteers have since taken on central duties in regard to reception, support and integration. They work with asylum seekers and refugees by offering counselling or teaching, providing administrative or practical help or establishing networks.
This study inquires why people in Germany volunteer for refugees and asylum seekers and why they invest time and efforts to support them. What are their motives and what are the contexts in which volunteers help refugees with arrival, integration and the engagement with the receiving society? The study asks what the solidarity with refugees is based on and how it is translated into active support. Which role do social, political and historical frameworks play?
As part of the study, data is collected with the help of internet-based surveys from volunteers working with refugees as well as from organisations that work with these volunteers. So far, two surveys have been conducted, in the autumns of 2014 and 2015. The findings  contribute to understanding how volunteers perceive their own role and how they relate to refugees. Beyond volunteering, this study will also contribute to examining factors that more generally lead to empathy with refugees.
More Information:

Refuge and Belonging: 
Transformations of Refugee Protection in the Federal Republic of Germany
Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, UK
Funded by German Research Foundation (DFG), January 2014 – December 2015.
Germany is one of the main countries of asylum and host to the largest population of refugees in the industrial world. While little discussed even in current immigration debates, the Federal Republic has always welcomed forced migrants on various grounds. It has been refuge to displaced ethnic-Germans, to political asylum seekers, to resettled refugees from around the globe and to forced migrants who escaped war or other situations of despair. However, access to protection has always been highly selective. Rationales upon which refuge in the Federal Republic of Germany has been granted have been politically contested and altered from civic-political to cultural-national models and back. This research project examines the history of refuge in the Federal Republic of Germany and the transformation of political debates about refugees. It is pioneering in its topic and its applied concepts, drawing on theories of political belonging and memory, shedding new light not only on the history and theory of refuge but on the receiving country’s political culture.
New ‚Recipe‘ in Refugee Protection?
Developments and the Current State of Germany’s Resettlement Program
Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies, University of Osnabrück, Germany
Funded by Fritz-Thyssen Foundation, April-Dezember 2013.
In this research project I examine the ways and motives behind the implementation of a regular resettlement program by which the federal government of Germany pledged to resettle 900 refugees between 2012 and 2014. In addition to the historical development towards this policy the actual practice of resettlement will be analysed under the criteria of refugee protection. The project is set within the lager context of the Common European Asylum System and the relationship between Global Refugee Policies and national politics of migration.
Rationales of Resettlement:
The Australian Government’s Motives in the Orderly Departure Program
October-November 2012
Project funded by Swinburne Institute for Social Research, Melbourne.
In this project, I investigate in archival research Australian political discussions about the resettlement of Vietnamese refugees between 1979 and 1982.
Publications: Journal article forthcoming.
Incorporating Pasts:
Political Memories and Migration in Australia
Doctoral Dissertation
Partially funded by Friedrich-Ebert Foundation and the Australian government’s Endeavour Programme.
I examined how the remembrance of Australia’s migration past correlates with migration policies. In particular, I analysed how Australia Day has been utilised in the politics of migration and for the incorporation of immigrants, how the South Australian Migration Museum altered its representation of multiculturalism, and what role memories played in and after the Tampa debate about boat people. The project led me to develop a concept of ‚political memory‘ and allowed me to set migration politics in a larger framework of politics of belonging.
Publications: Several articles and book chapters; monograph forthcoming.