Tuesday, August 1, 2017

FINAL JOURNAL ENTRY: Additional learning and things still on my mind

Final Journal Entry: What additional learning have you gained through the process of finishing your research project? What aspects of our program are still on your mind two weeks later? 

A lot of the completion of my research project involved doing research regarding policies in Berlin (and in Germany overall) that are intended to help migrants integrate. This process meant that I read through the full text of many policies, press reports, and government documents regarding these policies and their effects on populations. I have done some work similar to this here and there for a few projects in high school and earlier in my college career, but I was very unfamiliar with the legalese and formatting of documents like the EU Directives I have been reading through in the past two weeks. I learned a lot about the history of citizenship policy, integration initiatives and procedures of asylum throughout the EU, but particularly in Germany.
These past few weeks of research have really allowed me to start connecting the dots between policy changes and the impact on individuals, which is exactly what I had wanted to do in the first place! I’m not sure if I discussed this in any previous journals, but I think my interest in creating those direct connections between policy and people was inspired by an article I read in a geography class which creatively traced the journey of a papaya as a commodity. (Here is the link to the article, I really enjoyed it: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8330.2004.00441.x/epdf ) For my final write and presentation of my research I did not choose to explicitly connect individual migrants that I met to specific policies and instances of community action like I had planned to originally, because then I think I would have either had a too narrow lens, or I would have written a twenty-page paper (like Ian Cook did in his papaya paper). But, at least in my mind and in this journal, I’ve been able to connect preliminary readings from spring quarter and policies that I have recently been reading to a conversation I had with Ali, an asylum-seeker from Iran who does administrative work at the garden. Ali and Sophia and I talked for a long time about asylum procedures in the EU compared to seeking asylum in the US, as well as the history of German and US politics, and I’m now seeing where all of his arguments were coming from. The research I’ve been doing since the last week of the four week program in Berlin have helped fill the gaps I noticed in my conversations with folks at the Coop Campus and around the city, and I really appreciate being able to see all the information come together to create this web of cause and effect and feedback in regards to our program and my project. But I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface, and I would love to continue doing something with this research in the future, even if it connects more to the economic side of things (since that is my major).
Since I’ve been back home in the States, I’ve really been struggling to describe my time in Berlin to my friends and family, and I’m getting the sense that a lot of my friend and family don’t know exactly what to say in response to what I tell them. Just a few days after I got back to my family’s home, we took a trip to visit my extended family. I talked about attending lectures at these Humboldt, sightseeing all over Berlin, Hamburg and Dresden, and excitedly rambled about working at the Coop Campus with refugees from all over the place. My relatives could easily understand why I would go study at a German university or do tourist-y things, but many of them didn’t seem to understand what I was doing working at the Coop Campus, or had very little understanding of the refugee crisis overall, and how it is not an isolated issue. Just a day after I had talked all about my experiences in Berlin, I was watching the news with my uncle when a report about people who had died while attempting to illegally cross into the US from Mexico came on. My uncle made a pretty insensitive comment about the people trying to cross the border, and another relative asked (rhetorically) what it must be like for them to try to travel in the conditions they did, but the conversation immediately shifted to something trivial as the television was switched off.
It was really hard for me to remain calm during conversations like this, because some of my family couldn’t connect my work helping people who were fleeing the terrible conditions of their home country to this news report of people who were also fleeing the terrible conditions of their home country. It felt as if as soon as I stopped talking, after my allotted two hours of time to talk about the refugee crisis in Europe had expired, the problem was erased from their minds. I understand that, for many people, it is emotionally exhausting to always be thinking about large-scale issues that individual people can do very little to help with, but I absolutely do not see that as an excuse to not continue a dialogue about them, especially when there are people who are so willing to discuss them. Of course, the handful of people I’ve talked to who insensitively dismissed the issue, or ignorantly missed the connections between illegal immigrants in Europe and the US, are not 100% of the people that I have talked to, but I was still a little saddened by the attitudes of a few people I spoke to when I came home.
I’ve been thinking about something Sharon Otoo told our group when she came and spoke to us at Humboldt. I liked it so much that I wrote it down in my journal (which actually ended up being more for notes and drawings than deep reflection, but there’s some moments of reflection here and there). Sharon said that “racism is a mountain…and I’m chipping away at it with a toothbrush…but if everyone works with their toothbrush in the same direction, we can eventually make a dent”. Those words stuck with me through these past two weeks talking about my time in Berlin, driving through insanely affluent white neighborhoods in Texas, going to a wedding in rural Washington, and wandering around Portland, Oregon again. I think a lot of big problems can be tackled in the way Sharon Otoo envisions our fight against racism, so I can’t let a few people who don’t or won’t understand what it is I was doing volunteering in Berlin stop me from doing it.

I feel like I have to keep talking about it, to everyone I meet, so that people will start picking up their toothbrushes to make dents in the racism, classism, discrimination against Muslims, and fear of change that is embedded in this issue of asylum-seekers and illegal immigrants. I hope that our group’s time in Berlin and our publication will, if nothing else, start to make a little dent in these mountains. 

FINAL WRITE UP: Steps Towards Integration: Comparing Policy and Community Action in Berlin

Steps Towards Integration: Comparing Policy and Community Action in Berlin
Rebecca Duncan
When I first discovered that I had the opportunity to spend a month in Berlin learning about identity and migration, while simultaneously working with an organization that helps migrants in various ways, I knew straight away that I wanted to investigate the policy surrounding migrant integration. I am currently studying Economics, but a common concern I have heard about the field of Economics (one which I share) is the depersonalization that occurs when conducting analyses of people. In light of this, I wanted my research in Berlin to include a qualitative angle showing how policy impacts people on the individual level; I wanted to know more about the stories of people, and all the different ways one person may be impacted by seemingly unrelated policies.
As our study abroad group learned more about the different nonprofit organizations that students would be working with, I realized how many of these organizations stemmed from community action. In fact, we would have many opportunities to speak with people who participated in activism, or other forms of community action, relating to migrants and migration issues. So then, I realized I wanted to compare the effectiveness policy changes and community action in helping migrants.
Because of Germany’s long history of being home to migrant communities, in particular the Turkish community, many policy changes and events have occurred throughout history that have impacted migrant populations in Germany. Naturally, writing a concise paper regarding all of these policies and community action events would be quite difficult, so this paper will focus on events subsequent to the change of German citizenship law in 1998. This scope will, therefore, include impacts to migrant populations already in Germany, but will primarily emphasize the impact on asylum-seekers coming to Germany in the 2010’s. In addition, the paper will have some information about Germany as a whole, but will focus primarily on the city of Berlin.
My investigative question is the following: How effective is policy change versus community action in integrating recent migrant populations in Berlin, Germany?
A Brief Summary of Policy and its Effects on Migrants and Asylum-Seekers
One important part of integration into society is being able to become a citizen of the country in which a migrant resides. German citizenship laws have an interesting history that has significant implications for migrant communities. Before 1998, the only way a person could become a citizen of Germany was to be descended from another German citizen; the citizenship law was based on the principle jus sanguinis. In 1998, however, the German government altered the citizenship law so that it was now possible for non-citizens to become German citizens. This pathway has several key requirements, including prolonged residency, extensive knowledge of Germany and the German language. According to a summary of the reform of the 1999 citizenship law, “the red-green federal government coalition reformed the citizenship law by adding the principle of birth in Germany (jus soli) to the traditional principle of ethnic descent (jus sanguinis). The reform also eased the process of acquiring citizenship, provided that certain conditions – like knowledge of the language – were met.”[1] These conditions included (but were not limited to) being a legal resident in Germany for eight years, commitment to the law, no criminal activity, ability to support oneself and one’s dependents without welfare or unemployment benefits, and adequate command of the German language.[2]
This new policy certainly opened doors for parts of the migrant community in Germany; the Official 2015 Migrant Report created by the German Federal Ministry of the interior reported that, between 1995 and 2004, 1,278,424 people (or 1.5% of the German population) obtained German citizenship by naturalization.[3] While this is an impressive statistic, there were many migrants who had been living in Germany for many years but, because of maintaining their place in their communities, had not learned enough German to gain citizenship. As of 2015, Germany is still home to over 9 million resident foreign nationals (non-naturalized permanent residents). This group does not include foreign nationals without permanent resident status (i.e. asylum-seekers, or those with temporary status).[4] The National Integration Plan reports that “some 15 million people with a migrant background” live in Germany (as of 2008), and of course many more have arrived in Germany seeking asylum since then.[5] Therefore, while German citizenship theoretically became more accessible to migrants, it was not as accessible in practice.
Immigration policy also evolved near the turn of the century. The Immigration Act of July 30, 2004 was a reform that “made it easier for well-qualified migrants to immigrate, permitted the entry of certain others on humanitarian grounds, and allowed the children of migrants to join their families in Germany.” In addition, reforms “encouraged integration and made it easier for criminals to be deported”.[6] The report specifies that the federal government, as of this report, was obligated to take on many costs of efforts for integration, including costs of integration courses, and the federal states were to bear the costs of child care and social outreach in the context of integration. In 2007, the German government passed a reform to its immigration laws and developed the National Integration Plan. These actions demonstrated another way to help Germany “come one step closer to developing an integration policy within the European framework.”[7] So, throughout the 2000’s, it seemed as if great strides were being taken in terms of integration policy.
The other side of the coin, however, is that other existing policies in place make integration challenging. One such factor is that German is the official national language of Germany. Because of this, all business conducted at governmental offices, including those such as the German Labor Office, must be conducted in German. This creates a real challenge for migrants without fluency in German who are trying to find employment quickly. In addition, the Dublin Regulations became effective across the European Union in 2013. According to the actual text of the regulation, “the main objective of [the Dublin Regulation] is to further develop the standards for procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing international protection with a view to establishing a common asylum procedure in the Union”. The main principle of the regulation is that an “asylum request by a third country national is to be presented in the first European country the person arrives in…where he or she was identified by local authorities”.[8] This means that people arriving into Europe as asylum-seekers by boat or on foot, as many people have in the past few years, have very little choice regarding where they can reside legally within the EU. Many asylum-seekers arrive in Italy by boat, and when they arrive, they find a slow-moving economy with little to no job opportunities. When that happens, migrants move to where there are job opportunities, such as Germany, but then lose the benefits of an asylum seeker including support to learn a new language or obtain employment. Therefore, attaining citizenship in Germany for these asylum-seekers is nearly impossible.  The Dublin Regulation is an impressive step in creating standards across the EU for asylum procedures, but because of where migration is occurring, this regulation is hindering integration, not helping it.
Throughout Germany, policy framework for integration of migrants, including asylum-seekers at times conflicts with preexisting regulations, resulting in further challenges for migrants. These challenges are likely unintended, but many people are struggling with them in Germany today. With this in mind, I would like to explore how seemingly small-scale changes may have impacted migrants in communities.
Community Action in Berlin
As our group found out when we arrived in Berlin, there are many community groups throughout Berlin providing services to migrants. The fifteen members of our study abroad group volunteered at six different nonprofit community organizations that help migrant and asylum-seeker populations. Beyond our personal experiences working with these community partners, several news stories and professional opinions helped to demonstrate that there is a significant community support system in Berlin, and that there is a history of community action and activism that works to support migrants. In fact, Dr. Viola Georgi, Professor of Diversity Education at the University of Hildesheim and founding director of the Center for Educational Integration gave our group a lecture in which she recalled the peak of the influx of refugees into Germany in 2015. She remarked on what a positive, proactive response the people of Germany took at the community level to support asylum-seekers.
Much of the evidence of community action that connects to migrant populations in Berlin, specifically, are also managing the negative ramifications of gentrification; gentrification in once-affordable areas of Berlin is now forcing out migrant families that have lived there for many years. Because many of these families are migrants, and do not have German citizenship, there are fewer pathways regarding policy or voting that are available to respond to gentrification and rising home prices. So, community action has accordingly been taken in many places in Berlin. For instance, the district of Neukölln has been experiencing gentrification for almost a decade, as is described in the Spiegel article “Neukölln Nasties: Foreigners Feel Accused in Berlin Gentrification Row”. According to the article, community members of Neukölln responded to the issue of gentrification in a slightly unconventional way: putting up posters that discuss the gentrification occurring in Neukölln and ask the audience, which is intended to be “students, artists and travelers”, to “be creative and active against gentrification”.[9] The article also highlights a bar in Neukölln, “Freies Neukölln”, whose owner made an anti-gentrification video that went viral and sparked much controversy.[10] As the article acknowledges, gentrification is a complex issue with multiple valid perspectives, but for the purposes of this paper I would like to emphasize how the community in Neukölln took action regarding gentrification when other avenues may not have been available. Despite this community engagement, gentrification continues to affect Neukölln, and the rest of Berlin.
Periodicals are continuing to chronicle the multiple dimensions of the pushback to gentrification throughout Berlin. More recently, the New York Times article “In Berlin, a Grass-Roots Fight Against Gentrification as Rents Soar” outlined how grass roots movements to halt gentrification have pressured local authorities to “put into effect a slate of measures, including rent caps…development-free zones and increased social housing subsidies” to address the housing market and “conserve the diverse social and cultural makeup of city center”.[11] Residents are now creating an initiative to have milieuschutz in their area. The article describes milieuschutz as “social environment protection”, so that “real estate is shielded against owners’ attempts to renovate and modernise it to the extent that existing residents could be forced out.[12] In the same article, a local city councilor explains about the measures he has been taking to increase awareness of what residents “have to tolerate and what they don’t” in regards to rent and living spaces. Both this article and the 2011 Spiegel piece are key examples of how residents are creatively confronting gentrification through community action, and many of these residents represent or are themselves migrants or asylum-seekers.
Pushback against gentrification is by no means the only context in which we see instances of community action supporting the migrant population in Berlin. For example, in 2015, an article in the Guardian described how “some of the city’s refugee population share their experiences with tourists” with a new tour around the Kreuzberg district of Berlin.[13] The goal of the tour was partially political: to preserve and acknowledge the birth of the refugee community in Berlin. This tour is extremely connected to and supported by the community in Kreuzberg; without the support of the district, the tour would not be possible.
Communities in Berlin have also sought to help migrants integrate with different models of education. The Neighborhood Mothers Program, for instance, is a program that began in Berlin in 2004 as a grassroots outreach project. The project trains immigrant women as mentors and agents of integration to help new immigrant families in local communities”.[14] The mothers are the educators, and have the opportunity to be in conversation with other educators in the community. In addition, some schools have sprung up that accommodate the challenging language barrier by offering some classes in Turkish or Arabic, such as the restructured Campus Rutli.[15] The Rutli school, which educates many students with “migratory backgrounds”, used to be one of Berlin’s worst schools, now has a “joint school” program, putting students aged six through eighteen in a comprehensive, more integrated track. The graduation rates of the school have skyrocketed since its restructuring in 2012. School administrators believe that a key part of student success, is the measures taken to integrate the large population of migrant students attending Rutli.
So, we know that communities across Berlin are taking action to support the integration and acceptance of migrants, including very recent migrants, and that some of these measures seem to be effective. Now, I want to briefly examine two cases of policy versus community action in more detail, with a more personal connection to individuals, who are impacted by the intersection of policy and community action.
The Coop Campus[16]
The Coop Campus, a project supported by the nonprofit Schlesische 27, is a unique combination of a community garden, a school, and a gathering space. The campus first began two years ago as a project called “Die Gärtnerei”, when members of the Schlesische 27 organization and a group of refugees were able to access and use part of a cemetery in Neukölln to build and maintain a large community garden. Since then, the Coop Campus has grown to be a place where anyone, including migrants and refugees, can relax and chat with friends. In addition, the Coop Campus offers classes in German, workshops to build skills for occupations like carpentry, handicrafts, construction, or art, and is a place for “anyone who is willing to try out their ideas”, according to Fetewei, one of the founders of the garden and campus.
I had the opportunity to talk with many people at the Coop Campus about this intersection between policy and community action, and each person had very different perspectives on the efficacy of both techniques. Esther, the project coordinator of the Coop Campus, told me about the impressive growth of the project she has seen in the few months previous, but also told me of the local zoning policies and other regulations that make it impossible to guarantee how much longer the Coop Campus can remain at its current location. Sven, another one of the project leaders, recalled how many unique projects and programs he has seen take shape at the Coop Campus in the past two years, including workshops for local students to create art in the garden, dance workshops he facilitates as another way to experience the space of the garden, and many more. Fetewei talked to me about the work he, Basti, and many others are currently doing in the garden to build a large greenhouse that will also be used as a workshop, office space and possibly a performance space. While he is excited about the progress being made on the greenhouse, or the “Living Workshop”, Fetewei believes that the real problems facing migrants in Berlin are more systemic due to the dominant neoliberal trends in policy overall, but specifically in education, housing, and immigration policy.
Finally, Todosch and Federica, a sculptor and architect respectively, are working together to run creative carpentry workshops for many refugees. Based on the happiness and pride in the eyes of the folks they were working with to complete carpentry projects in the garden, they feel that they are doing something good. But, they wish more could be done regarding the roadblocks to gaining German citizenship. Todosch told me a story of a person he knew who came to Germany as a refugee, learned to speak German fluently after two years, became a skilled mechanic and jack-of-all-trades, and tried in vain to get a decent job for three more years after officially achieving fluency. After a total of five years in Germany, this man’s legal status had not changed, and he decided to go back to his home country and try to use his new skills to get a job there.
The story Todosch told me, about community support being effective up to a certain point, seemed to be a common theme among the people at the Coop Campus. Everyone agreed that the work being done to support migrants and asylum seekers was helpful; people are learning German, attaining new skills, finding safe places to stay and being welcomed by the community, which is wonderful. However, processes like applying for asylum, or getting a job, or attaining citizenship, are different struggles all together, because of the regulations in place.
Kotti & Co[17]
In another part of Berlin near Kottbusser Tor, an organization called Kotti & Co formed as a response to the intolerable rise in social housing rents in the past decade. In May 2012, the residents’ initiative turned “a summer street fair into a permanent protest camp” by occupying a street corner and building a “permanent protest house”. The original demands of the group were to stop the increase in rent, to organize a conference on social housing, and to invite experts. I got the chance to speak with Sandy Kaltenborn, one of the co-founders of Kotti & Co, to learn more about the community-based group.
In our brief group discussion, Sandy said the rising rents made it impossible for many of his neighbors to have a decent quality of life, given their wages. As a result, this issue brought a community of very different people together to find a solution. “Kottbusser Tor is home to many different kinds of people; ethnic Germans, migrants, conservative people, liberal people. But we all met and had a meeting over there” he said, pointing to a LGBTQ-friendly restaurant across the street, “and talked about what to do.” As a member of the community but also as one of the founders of the organization, Sandy had the unique perspective of seeing what was happening on the ground in Kottbusser Tor, but also being involved in discussions of policy change regarding social housing. He talked about brief demonstrations the residents of the neighborhood would do to raise awareness and grab the attention of the media. Then, in 2012, the increased media attention due to community action led to the demand for a social housing conference being granted. Finally, in 2015, Kotti and Co. created a referendum that led to new housing policies in the area. “In 2016, they stopped the rising rent of social housing. Now”, Sandy exclaimed, “the next step may be to change the whole system!”
My conversation with Sandy presented another perspective in which community action and policy can intersect constructively to effect change. While Kotti & Co. does not deal exclusively with integration of migrants and asylum-seekers, creating accessible housing is an extremely important step in helping minorities integrate into a community. In addition, many of the people who participated in the demonstrations, and whose rents stopped rising in 2016, are recent migrants. So, for the folks at Kotti & Co., policy and community action were able to, eventually, work together constructively to enact change.
In conclusion
            By combining my research, interviews, and experiences in Berlin, I have found that policy is instrumental in creating opportunities for migrants to integrate in several key ways: finding work, establishing residence, and becoming a citizen. Some recent policy changes have attempted to help even more migrants integrate in these ways, but there are still preexisting policies that hinder integration. This conflict that is sometimes created between new and old policies is often addressed by community action. However, it is not clear whether community action overall will be successful in facilitating further integration of migrants; it seems to depend on each situation. Nevertheless, after this opportunity to work with migrants in Berlin, I am hopeful that more stories of the struggle to integrate will have happier endings, and that this ending will result from the cooperative efforts of community action and policy change.


“A Summary of the Immigration Act of July 30, 2004 (Press Report, 2004) .” GHDI - Documents, GHDI, 2017, germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/sub_document.cfm?document_id=3695.
Bevölkerung Und Erwerbstätigkeit. Statistisches Bundesamt, 29 Mar. 2015, www.destatis.de/DE/Publikationen/Thematisch/Bevoelkerung/MigrationIntegration/AuslaendBevoelkerung2010200157004.pdf?__blob=publicationFile.
Coldwell, Will. "Refugees Tell a Different Berlin Story." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 28 Nov. 2015. Web. 10 May 2017.
“Gemeinschaftsschule Auf Dem Campus Rütli.” Campus Rütli, 2017, campusruetli.de/gemeinschaftsschule/.
Hermanns, Anna. “Neighbourhood Mothers Leading the Way in Neukölln | .” Cities of Migration, 17 Apr. 2013, citiesofmigration.ca/good_idea/neighbourhood-mothers-leading-the-way-in-neukolln/.
“Kotti & Co.” Kotti & Co, 2017, kottiundco.net/.
Leise, Eric. “Germany Strives to Integrate Immigrants with New Policies.” Migrationpolicy.org, Migration Policy Institute, 2 Mar. 2017, www.migrationpolicy.org/article/germany-strives-integrate-immigrants-new-policies/.
Mendoza, Moises. “Neukölln Nasties: Foreigners Feel Accused in Berlin Gentrification Row - SPIEGEL ONLINE - International.” SPIEGEL ONLINE, SPIEGEL ONLINE, 11 Mar. 2011, www.spiegel.de/international/germany/neukoelln-nasties-foreigners-feel-accused-in-berlin-gentrification-row-a-750297.html.
“Migrationsbericht 2015.” Bundesministerium Des Innern, 12 Apr. 2015, www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/Pressemitteilungen/DE/2016/12/migrationsbericht-2015.html.
 “The National Integration Plan.” Die Bundesregierung, 2007, www.bundesregierung.de/Content/EN/StatischeSeiten/Schwerpunkte/Integration/kasten1-der-nationale-integrationsplan.html.
Otto Schily, Federal Minister of the Interior, foreword to the brochure “Citizenship Law,” published by the Federal Commissioner for Foreigner Affairs, the Federal Ministry of the Interior, and the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government, August 1999  
“Schlesische 27: Jugend Kunst Kultur.” Schlesische 27, 2017, www.schlesische27.de/s27/.
Wilder, Charly. "In Berlin, a Grass-Roots Fight Against Gentrification as Rents Soar." The New York Times. The New York Times, 18 Mar. 2017. Web. 10 May 2017.
 “What Is the Dublin Regulation .” Open Migration, 18 Feb. 2016, openmigration.org/en/analyses/what-is-the-dublin-regulation/.

[1] Otto Schily, Federal Minister of the Interior, foreword to the brochure “Citizenship Law,” published by the Federal Commissioner for Foreigner Affairs, the Federal Ministry of the Interior, and the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government, August 1999
[2]  Otto Schily, Federal Minister of the Interior, foreword to the brochure “Citizenship Law,” published by the Federal Commissioner for Foreigner Affairs, the Federal Ministry of the Interior, and the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government, August 1999
[3] “Migrationsbericht 2015.” Bundesministerium Des Innern, 12 Apr. 2015, www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/Pressemitteilungen/DE/2016/12/migrationsbericht-2015.html.
[4]Bevölkerung Und Erwerbstätigkeit. Statistisches Bundesamt, 29 Mar. 2015, www.destatis.de/DE/Publikationen/Thematisch/Bevoelkerung/MigrationIntegration/AuslaendBevoelkerung2010200157004.pdf?__blob=publicationFile.
[5] “The National Integration Plan.” Die Bundesregierung, 2007, www.bundesregierung.de/Content/EN/StatischeSeiten/Schwerpunkte/Integration/kasten1-der-nationale-integrationsplan.html.
[6] “A Summary of the Immigration Act of July 30, 2004 (Press Report, 2004) .” GHDI - Documents, GHDI, 2017, germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/sub_document.cfm?document_id=3695.
[7] Leise, Eric. “Germany Strives to Integrate Immigrants with New Policies.” Migrationpolicy.org, Migration Policy Institute, 2 Mar. 2017, www.migrationpolicy.org/article/germany-strives-integrate-immigrants-new-policies/.

[8]“What Is the Dublin Regulation .” Open Migration, 18 Feb. 2016, openmigration.org/en/analyses/what-is-the-dublin-regulation/.
[9] Mendoza, Moises. “Neukölln Nasties: Foreigners Feel Accused in Berlin Gentrification Row - SPIEGEL ONLINE - International.” SPIEGEL ONLINE, SPIEGEL ONLINE, 11 Mar. 2011, www.spiegel.de/international/germany/neukoelln-nasties-foreigners-feel-accused-in-berlin-gentrification-row-a-750297.html.
[10] The following is the url leading to the afore-mentioned viral video: https://vimeo.com/16116523
[11] Wilder, Charly. "In Berlin, a Grass-Roots Fight Against Gentrification as Rents Soar." The New York Times. The New York Times, 18 Mar. 2017. Web. 10 May 2017.
[12] Wilder, Charly. "In Berlin, a Grass-Roots Fight Against Gentrification as Rents Soar." The New York Times. The New York Times, 18 Mar. 2017. Web. 10 May 2017.
[13] Coldwell, Will. "Refugees Tell a Different Berlin Story." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 28 Nov. 2015. Web. 10 May 2017.
[14] Hermanns, Anna. “Neighbourhood Mothers Leading the Way in Neukölln | .” Cities of Migration, 17 Apr. 2013, citiesofmigration.ca/good_idea/neighbourhood-mothers-leading-the-way-in-neukolln/.

[15] “Gemeinschaftsschule Auf Dem Campus Rütli.” Campus Rütli, 2017, campusruetli.de/gemeinschaftsschule/.
[16] “Schlesische 27: Jugend Kunst Kultur.” Schlesische 27, 2017, www.schlesische27.de/s27/.
[17] “Kotti & Co.” Kotti & Co, 2017, kottiundco.net/. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Arrival Cities and The Figure of the Migrant Discussion Points

Arrival City
  • The author claims that “arrival cities” are “places where the next great economic and cultural boom will be born, or where the next great explosion of violence will occur”. (3) These two potential situations are very different from each other, conflict versus cultural and economic advancement, but I want to know this author’s perspective on whether or not this difference between these hypothetical situations is one small event, or if it differs by a series of key events.
  • Loïc Wacquant argues that neighborhoods of relegation are “anti-ghettos” because they are so multicultural, which is problematic. Wacquant says the “advanced marginality” of these neighborhoods prevents the people there from forming a community. By extension, it seems to me, they may not be able to form a community identity. My question in this context is the following: how many points of connection between people are needed to form a community? Is it a questions of quantity, or is it something different? Can we artificially induce community formation in these places of “advanced marginality”?
  • The discussion of the Turkish community in Kreuzberg being a “grotesque caricature of their home country’s life” is fascinating and unsettling. Is the fact that Turks are essentially forming “urban villages” in Berlin and that “Turks in Germany [are] 20 years behind those in Istanbul” an over-correction for the erasure of community and culture that may happen in a very multicultural area? 

The Future of the Migrant

  • Nail points out that not all migrants are affected the same by their movement; he says every migrant lands somewhere on the spectrum between “inconvenienced” and “incapacitation”. I really appreciate this acknowledgement that the migration experience differs greatly from person to person, and that difference arises from various factors like class, race, gender, profession, etc. I’d like to think and investigate more about what combinations of factors lead to which position on the spectrum of migration effects, and what can be done with policy to shift people away from being “incapacitated” by migration. 
  • One point that I found interesting is Nail’s claim that, because we define all other individuals’ existences with words of stasis, whereas migrants are characterized by movement, migrants are (in the public sphere and by academics) seen as “failed citizens”. I would agree that this is an accurate assessment of the implication of the word “migrant”, but that is just based on my personal observations and opinion. So, does this implication hold up to other theories of migration? And, if everyone is becoming a migrant in one way or another, as Nail says at the start of the introduction, should we not redefine the word “citizen” to account for increased migration of everyone?
  • One part of Dr. Georgi’s lecture last week that I found fascinating was the comparison between recent increased nationalism and a new movement that suggests we can move past nations, to a post-national form of world organization in the wake of globalization. This connects, in my opinion, to the second problem Nail highlights: that migrants have been primarily understood from the perspectives of states, when migrant history is often overshadowed by the state, or the state selects the history it wishes to remember. It seems that the nation state system itself creates challenges for the success of migrants and migrating communities in today’s world. So, hypothetically, what would the consequences of a post-national world be for migration? Would migration as we understand it today even be relevant, or would migrating between what used to be separate countries be as easy as moving to a new neighborhood in the same city?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Community Mapping Interviews and Research


Todosch and Federica
Todosch is a sculptor and Federica is an architect. They are both working with refugees at the garden on a 7 month program that teaches them German and basic carpentry and building skills. Todosch is also a resident of the neighborhood (he lives in a house right behind the garden). Todosch has lived in the neighborhood for about 10 years, and Federica moved to Germany four years ago. They have been teaching in skill building programs like the one they are currently doing for a few years, but they have only been doing this specific program at the garden for the past year. Before that, they worked with Schlesische 27 at another sight doing similar projects. Todosch said last year he also did work at an elementary school in the community with a diverse population, including migrants, relating to theater and art projects. Both Todosch and Federica agree that their favorite things about the community are 1) the welcoming atmosphere at Die Gärtnerei, 2) Templehof Airfield (which is very near to the Coop Campus), and 3) the diversity and relaxed vibe of the community at large. Todosch, from his experience working in schools, thinks the community does support the idea of education for all, but may struggle to implement it. Todosch and Federica think they are doing good things here in the community. Based on the happiness and pride in the eyes of the folks they were working with to complete the Archive, a carpentry project in the garden, it seems to me that they are doing good. But, as many people have said, they wish more could be done in spite of the roadblocks to gaining German citizenship. Todosch told me a story of a person he knew who came to Germany as a refugee, learned to speak German fluently after 2 years, became a skilled mechanic and jack-of-all-trades, and tried in vain to get a decent job for three more years after officially achieving fluency. After a total of five years in Germany, this man’s legal status had not changed, and he decided to go back to his home country and try to use his new skills to get a job there. So, Todosch says, the programs he participated in and all the hard work he did weren’t all for nothing, but it’s realistically very difficult to help every person who comes to Germany as a refugee find a happy ending.  

Fetewei has lived in Neukölln since 2014, and he works at schools with young children and helps do building work at the garden; currently, he is one of the people leading the building of the new greenhouse. Fetewei loves the neighborhood, but is noticing the gentrification happening over the years he has been here, in the rising rents and the decreasing diversity of the neighborhood. His three favorite places are the kitchen at the Coop Campus, Tempelhof Airfield, and any of the great bars along Hermannstraβe where he can relax and have a cold drink with his friends. Fetewei thinks the local schools are doing a lot of great things to support the community at large despite gentrification, and he thinks what he does working with schools and helping out at the garden also positively impacts the community, but he believes that the real problem is more systemic. We chatted with Fetewei for a long time about how the dominant neoliberal thoughts in policy overall, but specifically in education, housing, and immigration policy are negatively impacting the community and the world at large.

Nina is a university student from Germany studying social work. She is interning at the garden as part of her final studies at her university regarding social work with refugee communities. She has been working with the coop campus since March, and moved into the neighborhood a few months before that (she also lives just behind the garden). In Nina’s opinion, the three best assets of the community are 1) the community garden and park, 2) the mix of people in the area (not just Germans), 3) the Korean restaurant down the street. From what she knows, Nina thinks that the schools in the area do support everyone, and this is especially evident by the fact that school is completely free for everyone, no matter their legal status. In addition, schools are doing their best to accommodate for the drastic language barriers presented by students entering schools knowing various different languages, including Turkish, Arabic, Italian and Persian. Nina really likes her internship so far because she does feel like she is making a positive impact here at the coop campus, and she helps connect refugees to potential opportunities in the community.

Falafel Shop owner and customer
We stopped to try to chat with the owner of the falafel shop that is right outside of the garden gates. He said his shop has been here for five years, since before the coop campus was on the cemetery grounds. He said he really likes the community, and often spends time at the coop campus. We struggled to get past the language barrier, but happened to strike up a conversation with one of the customers in front of the stand. The customer said she has lived in Neukölln for sixteen years, and she has seen the neighborhood change a lot. We chatted a bit about the schools in the area, and she said she sees a big diversity in the schoolchildren walking around, but doesn’t know a ton about the actual programs going on. The customer works out of the neighborhood, but she thinks her participation in supporting small businesses like the falafel cart we were at is how she positively impacts the community. We chatted a bit about the gentrification occurring in the neighborhood, and how that is changing the night life scene from relaxing bars to high-energy clubs, which this resident does not really like. She said lots of college students are moving in, and that is changing the atmosphere around Neukölln a lot, but overall she still likes the neighborhood.

Research Inquiry: Housing in Neukölln
As of 2015, 328,062 people live in the borough of Neukölln. Regarding demographics, the population is composed of (in descending order of percentages) Germans, Arabs, Turks, Kurds, Russians, Africans and Poles. According to the district office of Neukölln, 164,823 people are female and 141,406 are “foreigners”. (Einwohnerregisterstatistik) As for housing, based on my own personal observations, all of the housing in Neukolln are apartment buildings or apartments located above businesses. After walking around for several hours, I did not notice any new development of residential buildings. Most apartment buildings appear to be at least 20 years old, but some could be a century old. (This is because much of Berlin, including Neukölln, was spared from destruction during WWII, so many old pieces of architecture still exist in Neukölln, including churches and cemeteries.)
In the northern areas of Neukölln, housing appears to be nicer, with manicured greenery and fresh paint, and I see more people who are in their 20’s and 30’s walking around the streets. This area seems to be more gentrified. In the south, closer to the coop campus, housing is a bit more run down externally, but walking past windows there are the sounds of lively homes, and there are lots of children. This appears to be the more diverse part of the neighborhood, with a historically more Turkish community.
During my research, I discovered there has been a surge in student housing popping up in Neukölln, because of the affordability of the neighborhood, easy access to other areas of the city, and growing night life. One housing sight called “Easy Living Berlin”, which caters towards buyers looking for single-person apartments (i.e. students and young people) called Neukölln “a cultural melting pot” and “the most exciting part of Berlin” because “the vibe is intercultural and cheerful”.("Temporary Accommodations...") Gentrification is definitely occurring and the community is aware of it: as far back at 2011, residents put up posters blaming “students, artists and travelers” for the rising rents in the neighborhood, and calling for people to “be creative and active against gentrification”. (Mendoza) Despite awareness and activism in the community, and newcomers to the community being aware of the gentrification occurring, it has continued to happen since 2011 and residents are still struggling to pay their rents.

"Einwohnerregisterstatistik." Berlin.de. N.p., 15 July 2016. Web. 03 July 2017.
Mendoza, Moises. "Neukölln Nasties: Foreigners Feel Accused in Berlin Gentrification Row - SPIEGEL ONLINE - International." SPIEGEL ONLINE. SPIEGEL ONLINE, 11 Mar. 2011. Web. 03 July 2017.

"Temporary Accommodations for Students, Berlin-Neukölln." Easy Living. Berlinovo Apartment GmbH, 2017. Web. 04 July 2017.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Journal Reflection 3: Sachsenhausen

On Thursday we traveled for over an hour by local train to get to Sachsenhausen, which was a concentration camp from approximately 1938 to 1945. It was an experience I will never forget (and not just because of the crazy rainstorm we were caught up in). I had learned, I thought, a lot about WWII during my time in school, but actually visiting the former site of one of the camps really opened my eyes a little bit to the realities of concentration camps and the horrors of that war.
What matched my expectations
When we arrived at Sachsenhausen there was a lot about it that surprised me. First of all, this camp was very close to a residential area; the neighborhood has existed since before the war, and stayed after it. Most of my mental images of concentration camps have been those of a compound surrounded by barbed wire in the middle of nowhere, but that was not the case at all. The ground of the former camp ended just a few hundred feet from where the neighborhood streets began. I was really surprised by this, but when our tour guide explained the context of the camp, it made sense. We learned that the predecessor to Sachsenhausen – the Oranienburg camp - was used to house political prisoners as a scare tactic to others, to crush the political opposition. In addition, Sachsenhausen was a place where political allies and guests were invited to view the camp that was billed as a center for “political reeducation”, so the Nazis wouldn’t want it to look like a prison. There are other elements of the camp that connect to this; the triangle design of the camp that is less functionality and more aesthetic, the former fountain and swan pond, the places where flowers would have been planted near the offices of SS officers.
This was one of the most horrifying parts of the camp, to me, because these beautiful things were so close to the horrifying mistreatment and torture occurring just on the other side of a gate that reads “Work Brings Freedom”, which we all know is the opposite of the truth. For some reason, the thought and care that was taken to create propaganda for the Nazi party at every turn was something I didn’t really consider when I was initially learning about WWII. My focus was always on how the war was industrialized, how the Nazi regime took the elements of human efficiency and advancement and used those techniques to exploit, torture and murder other humans. Due to hindsight, I think, we never think about accepted the Nazi why people accepted the Nai regime, or went along with it, or why people were content to sit back, or just assumed the persecution of political prisoners, Jews, Roma and all those considered “less than human” was not as bad as it actually was. I always heard this very simple narrative of “the Nazis were evil, and everyone who let WWII happen was stupid”. But now, with this added layer of propaganda and trickery, even at concentration camps where people were being worked to death, tortured and murdered, I think the story is much more complex. It’s likely that people who would have otherwise gotten involved didn’t think that their intervention was necessary. Or, some people may have used this as a cop-out, going along with the flimsy narrative of reeducation to avoid persecution themselves.
The visit to Sachsenhausen also gets me thinking about the German identity, and of the collective guilt that is connected to the war (if you assume that there is a collective guilt, instead of responsibility). Both of the lecturers at Humboldt and the information at the places we visited emphasized that every German was connected to the war in some way; they themselves fought in the war or they had family in the war, or they opposed the war and were persecuted. In addition, there is the feeling of the collective guilt that the people of Germany allowed the Nazi regime to take over, to create the Holocaust, and the guilt that many participated in the Holocaust. I wonder if this layer of propaganda and advertisement to mask the true horrors of concentration camps adds to that guilt or lessens it. Should the German guilt then be lessened, because there was a distortion of what was occurring in these camps? Or should this add more weight to the guilt, because the people were too complicit with a flimsy story of reeducation? How do the German people wrestle with this layer of the Holocaust? I think this is a topic worth investigating, and I want to learn more about the nuances and complexities of the people involved in the Second World War from Germany. For this reason, this week I will definitely be visiting the Topography of Terror.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Reading Reflection Week 1

To begin this reading reflection, I wanted to start by reacting to two extracts from the Brian Ladd piece. Ladd writes that “memories often cleave to the physical settings of events”, but then he also points out that “not every structure and old site can be preserved; cities are not museums” (Ladd, 2). I feel that this fundamental contradiction, which stems from a conflict that is occurring on a societal level, can be seen in Germany but also in the United States.
It seems to me that, for many people, monuments and large physical structures come together to form a significant representation of one’s national identity. For example, as an American, I identify with depictions of the Statue of Liberty. Whenever I see the Eiffel Tower, I think about not only the tower itself but the people it symbolizes. I am sure there are monuments that the people of Germany also personally identify with as a whole (such as the Brandenburg Gates). However, this connection to a monument that is a symbol can also be more personalized. I connect more specifically to the Space Needle in Seattle because I am a Seattleite, and even more specifically I connect to a large sculpture in my hometown that was built for my middle school, because I feel a large part of my identity connects back to that sculpture. In this way, I believe symbols of national identity can become more specified over time, and then we come away with a collection of monuments and physical constructions that symbolize the identity of a group of people.
With this in mind, what happens if a physical manifestation of one’s identity is put on the table for destruction? This patriotic idea of cultural and nationalist preservation (that I believe many of us receive early on in our educations) directly conflicts with the practical notion that we cannot preserve everything, that time must continue. I wonder how I would react if someone proposed the demolition of the sculpture at my school, or the Space Needle, or the Statue of Liberty. I suspect that most Americans would be outraged if this occurred. However, what if America was simply out of space? Or, what if the Statue of Liberty became a symbol of oppression and a dark history? (I think some may argue that this has already occurred for many people who have discovered the myth of the “American Dream”). We have a fundamental conflict here of Western values: preservation of and pride of national identity, with the desire to be rid of a shameful past, in addition to the continuous capitalist pursuit of profit and efficiency.
This article relates very specifically to my community placement at Die Gärtnerei because it is a coop campus that is built on the grounds of a cemetery. A program that is helping create community for refugees, who are constantly adding to and changing the definition of Germany national identity, is replacing what was once a Jewish cemetery in a German city. Many would argue that the cemetery should be entirely preserved, while others might argue that the city is running out of space for projects like this that give people a second chance, but the big question here harkens back to the Ladd reading: is the Coop Campus destroying an image of national identity, or is it just time to change and make a new symbol of the national identity of Germany.

I connected less directly to the Anderson reading, but one passage I pulled out was the explanation for imagined nationalism. Anderson says nationalism is imagined “because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion.” (Anderson, 49) The first thing I thought of when I read this passage was how, in my conversations with many Americans, their images of who makes up America or what it  means to be “American” can differ so much from person to person. If this national identity is as imagined as Anderson argues, serious problems can arise when we ask questions about commemorating national identities in the first place. Discussing how to best represent national identity without first discussing the definition of that identity is extremely problematic. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Journal Entries for Berlin Week 1

During my brief time in Berlin, I have been walking around and seeing a lot of museums, monuments, and old buildings, and so far I have had an amazing time. I love how Berlin seamlessly mixes things that are ancient, relatively old, modern, historical, and connected to specific cultures. I love being in Europe, but especially Berlin, because everywhere you go, everywhere you step, there is a sense of a deep history. I feel the history of the city around me as a walk through it, whether it is artifacts from ancient Greece in the Altes museum, or stumbling stones that commemorate people who were deported in the Second World War. When I walked into this great, round room in the Altes museum, I was rendered speechless for two reasons: 1) the architecture was astoundingly beautiful, and 2) I wondered how a country with a past filled with such horrors of colonialism, racism and terror could have things that are so beautiful.

When I stopped to think about this juxtaposition, I caught myself being a bit hypocritical, because we do this so often in the United States as well. When I ask myself what is beautiful and renders me speechless in the US, I think of gorgeous nature scenes or the skylines of iconic cities that I have visited, like Manhattan. But then I think about the history that lies underneath, such as the native peoples who used to live on these beautiful expanses of land or the immigrants who pass by Manhattan, looking for a better life but for decades receiving nothing prejudice and poverty. I was talking with some of my classmates earlier in the week after walking around to see some of the monuments near Humboldt University, such as the site of the Nazi book burning, about why Germany deals with shameful history differently. We reminded ourselves that people in America committed atrocities too, such as the genocide of Native American peoples and the extensive history of slavery, as do many other people in many other nations, but no nation has been forced to face its dark past in the same way that Germany has, and the conflict between these two historical narratives in Germany (that of pride and beauty versus shame and terror) has resulted from this.

The artifact that I found on Monday near Humboldt University was a stone commemorating the executions of about 30 protesters that destroyed Nazi propaganda in the Lustgarten square on May 18th, 1942. The memorial was put up in 1981, and was then added to later with glass panes to explain the next part of the story that went untold. The protestors prompted the retaliation action of the government; the main security office arrested 500 Jewish men at the end of May 1942 and killed half of them immediately.  I was really struck by this artifact because it was, compared to the grand buildings and beautiful fountains and gardens around it, the stone block is quite small, but it has such a story behind it! It has such a story and layers of complexity that meant pieces of Plexiglas were added to the memorial so people passing by would know what happened and why. The attention to detail and context, which I think is so important, actually happened here. I’m really glad that this layer was added, but I wander if creating additions in the name of context is appropriate in all situations of commemoration.

The Palace of Tears was a very eye-opening experience for me because, until I walked in to the exhibit, I was completely taking for granted what a key role the train station played during the time of the wall. I was, for some reason, upset that I didn’t originally give enough weight to a place where so many were separated from their families, or were denied entry to the West, or were caught “smuggling” basic necessities across the border. One part of the exhibit that is stuck strongly in my mind is the video that presented the differences in parallel film reels between the West and East; the same events, such as the initial military enforcement of the border between East and West, were portrayed in such utterly different ways by the Western and Eastern media. Such contrasting narratives so close to one another is not only concerning, but frightening. The prospect of a nearby neighbor getting utterly opposite information to what you receive is unsettling, to say the least.

To conclude this weekly journal, I wanted to briefly reflect on my community partner, the Coop Campus (or Die Gärtnerei). I absolutely love everything that this project is about, and I am having a wonderful time working there. To summarize, the garden is composed of a few large plots of land on what is still a cemetery where there is a literal garden, honeybees, a wood shop, an art studio, a kitchen, classrooms, and community space for anyone who wants to be there to spend time and have a place to be at home. In particular, the Coop Campus helps refugees find a community and support system by offering German classes, workshops in both practical skills and creative expression, and hopefully connecting people to job opportunities if everything falls into place. I have met so many wonderful, welcoming people who work and learn there, the community is extremely welcoming, and a lot of that comes from affirmation; no matter who you are, when you walk into the campus everyone says hello! People who didn’t even know me, who can’t even speak the same language as me, greeted our group with an open heart on our first day (Wednesday). Since then, I have worked in the garden raking and pulling weeds, sanded down boards to make signs, washed dishes, picked herbs, made tea, and spent time with people who work at the campus. I’m really excited to get to know more about the community and to see what I can do next to help the people who work there.