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2.12 Europe, Migration, Refugees

Instructor: Dr. Anika Keinz
Language of instruction:
Course type:
Subject course, B-Track
Contact hours:
72 (6 per day)
Course days
: Tuesday & Friday
ECTS credits
: 6
Course fee:
€ 1,650
Can be combined with all A-Track courses
  • Syllabus (printable PDF incl. day-to-day schedule)

Course Description

Regarding transnational migration, the European Union as a supranational community promotes a political reasoning between processes of consolidation and necessary conflict, between sovereignty and shared responsibility, between the right to define and delimit and the duty to negotiate. In ongoing economic crisis and facing unprecedented movements of people, the timeless normalcy of migration is often framed as crisis per se. Populist claims for cultural homogeneity and for closed borders undercut efforts for a common migration policy.

As the visibility of migration increases in various ways, migrants are often represented and imagined as a homogenous mass of ‘the other’. This leads to a problematic understanding of migration as something similar to a natural disaster that requires to be controlled and governed from a strategic top-down perspective. But the respective processes of negotiation on migration policy, within and across the outer borders of the Union, take place not only between the official institutions of nation-states, but on all scales of European populations. They also take place from a bottom-up perspective in the centres and at the margins of societies alike, where the single person contributes to the respective discourses as well: It is here, where either homogenizing images of threat are reproduced or sensible policies of individuality are practised.

Departing from diverse theories of migration (mainstream as well as critical perspectives), we will gain an overview of EU-level migration polity and recent migration- and border-management policies. We will analyse the conflicts, debates and discourses around the last years of increased immigration in Germany. Step by step we will get aware of the notion of identity politics, which can manifest in peaceful diversity, but is time and again prone to provoke social dynamics of disintegration. After analyzing the simplifying languages of exclusion in populist discourse, we will focus on the “legalization-market” of Almería/Spain, to learn about the imbrications of migration and economic calculations on one of the biggest “illegal labor markets” in the EU.

Scaling down perspective on the local level in the fieldtrips, we will engage with local authorities’ and politicians’ perspectives in Berlin. Diving deeper down we will start to change perspective: How do local activists develop and implement their own policies of welcoming migrants? What are the aims of and how do legal assessment organizations for migrants work? We will see, how refugees themselves perceive EU-migration policies and what they make themselves of their public positioning as a ‘problem’ or as a ‘burden’ to European Societies.

We will encounter migrants’ viewpoints, which reach beyond the usual framings of ‘the poor migrant’ as ‘passive victim’, as a threat or as the ‘(anti-)hero’ of globalization. We will encounter viewpoints on the EU, which will constructively criticize as well as graciously affirm the spirit of the Union. We will encounter viewpoints of hope.

Student Profile

This course is designed for all students having a personal, professional or political personal interest in a deeper and thus more differentiated understanding of transnational migration.


No prior knowledge is required – but the willingness to think beyond the usual framings on migration and identity.

Required Language Skills

The language of instruction is English. Language proficiency on an advanced Intermediate level (Mittelstufe II) is a prerequisite for participation. For orientation purposes, you can assess your language skills here (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

Course Requirements

  • The basic conditions for the course are regular attendance, participation in discussions and a close reading of the literature provided.
  • In one page of continuous text, every course-day’s core discussions and conclusions are to be summarized and questions regarding the texts formulated, in preparation for the next sessions.
  • Each student (together with fellow students) is required one time to prepare an input-presentation of a text in class (max. 10 min. each person).
  • The final examination (90 min.) will consist of answering 2-3 leading questions regarding the contents of the seminar in continuous text.


  • 40% Participation & Day's summaries and questions
  • 30% Text Presentation
  • 30% Final Examination  


A course reader will be provided at the first course meeting

Recommended Course Combinations (Selection)