The Politics of Helping Refugees Emerging Meanings of Political Action around the German ‘Summer of Welcome’

Journal title MONDI MIGRANTI
Author/s Larissa Fleischmann
Publishing Year 2018 Issue 2017/3
Language English Pages 21 P. 53-73 File size 243 KB
DOI 10.3280/MM2017-003003
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In this paper, I search for new meanings of political action that have emerged around the so-called ‘Summer of Welcome’ in Germany in 2015, when more citizens than ever before were willing to volunteer for refugees by providing ostensibly ‘apolitical’ humanitarian help. In order to shed light on the volunteers’ potentials to induce transformations towards a more egalitarian social and political order, I draw on several intriguing moments of my ethnographic field research in Southern Germany between 2014 and 2016. By doing so, I highlight how the volunteers - despite their ostensible self-understanding as ‘apolitical’ helpers - figure as Covert Activists, Change Agents or Political Dissidents. This will point at the dialectic relationship between ‘the political’ and ‘the apolitical’ and demonstrate how the humanitarian provides new avenues for political interventions, resistance and activism in future struggles around migration.

Keywords: Volunteering, Refugee Crisis, Humanitarianism, Germany, Political Activism, Civil Society, Migration Regime.

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Larissa Fleischmann, The Politics of Helping Refugees Emerging Meanings of Political Action around the German ‘Summer of Welcome’ in "MONDI MIGRANTI" 3/2017, pp 53-73, DOI: 10.3280/MM2017-003003