Our department enquires into the common notions as well as the social ties of actors in a society constituted through migration. As such, we not only emphasise traditional modes of belonging – of the ethnic or national sort – but, moreover, the changing affiliations of people and groups, in relation to living environments and to cultural lifestyles. Society is conceived as both a heterogeneous and a procedural formation, where ‘migrant’ and ‘allochtoon’ identities are constantly (re-)negotiated in urban as well as rural ‘contact zones’.
The department pursues three perspectives in particular.
(1) The reconceptualisation of migration studies in the context of global mobility. Migration is not played out in supposedly remote, ‘parallel’ social spaces, but is constitutive of society as a whole. There are few areas of our work or social life unaffected by migration and mobility.
(2) In Germany, the term ‘migration’ is subject to a particular semantic reduction: to, on the one hand, a phenomenon motivated by questions of economics and of poverty, and on the other, as intrinsically caught up with problems of culture and the ‘foreign’. Existing stereotypes require interrogation and dismantling in order to analyse real cultural forms and practices.
(3) Our research into the values and practices of civil society is directed towards policy proposals, discourses and institutions, in which different actors negotiate their positions in relation to nevertheless common social concerns. Here, processes of integration and segregation become particularly clear, often becoming problematised by actors. In collaborative projects with civil society actors, processes of mixture and collaboration, will be explored along with tensions and conflicts.