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Engaging inequalities: How interactions between recent ‘refugees’ and established Iranians reflect social changes in Germany

Applicant Moghaddari Sonja
Number 171743
Funding scheme Early Postdoc.Mobility
Research institution Abteilung für Ethik, Recht und Politik Max-Planck-Institut zur Erforschung multi- religiöser & multiethnischer Gesellschaften
Institution of higher education Institution abroad - IACH
Main discipline Ethnology
Start/End 01.02.2017 - 31.07.2018
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Ethnology
Sociology

Keywords (8)

Transnational migration; Diversity studies; Social differentiation; Civil society engagement; Humanitarianism; Postcolonialism; Refugee crisis; Germany

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Seit 2015, im Rahmen der sogenannten Flüchtlingskrise, wurden Fragen der Immigrationsregulierung und der Integration erneut zu einem der Hauptthemen der gesellschaftlichen Debatte in Deutschland. Dabei wirft der verhältnismäßig große Anteil Menschen ausländischer Herkunft, vor allem von Iranern, am sozialen Engagement für neuankommende Geflüchtete viele Fragen auf.
Lay summary

Ob es um die Einführung von Geflüchteten in die Normen der deutschen Gesellschaft geht oder um deren kritische Hinterfragung: In der neuen öffentlichen Debatte zur Einwanderung wurden Journalisten und Schriftsteller – auch – mit iranischen Identitäten zu Wortführern. Gleichzeitig leisten zahlreiche iranische Freiwillige humanitäre Hilfe entlang der Balkanroute. Dieses Engagement ist historisch erstmalig, zumindest in seiner medialen Präsenz. Die Verbreitung des Phänomens steht jedoch in Kontrast zu bisherigen Ergebnissen der Migrationsforschung, denen zufolge bereits ansässige Migranten dazu neigen, sich von Neuankömmlingen abzugrenzen. Das Forschungsprojekt geht der Frage auf den Grund, wie soziale Grenzen in journalistischen Diskursen und im Zusammentreffen iranischer Freiwilliger mit Geflüchteten verschiedenster Herkunft verhandelt werden. Da gesellschaftliches Engagement verschiedenste Funktionen von der Infragestellung bis zur Bestätigung bestehender Machtverhältnisse haben kann, erlaubt die Erforschung dieser Prozesse Rückschlüsse darauf, wie sich die deutsche Gesellschaft durch die neuen Migrationsprozesse verändert.

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext

Das Forschungsprojekt stützt sich qualitative Datenerhebungsmethoden, wie Beobachtung, verschiedene Formen von Interviews und Medienanalyse. Es leistet dabei einen Beitrag zur zeitgenössischen Migrationsforschung und zielt allgemein auf ein tieferes Verständnis des sozialen Zusammenhalts pluralistischer europäischer Gesellschaften ab.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 13.12.2016

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Publications

Publication
The Affective Ambiguity of Solidarity: Resonance Within Anti-Deportation Protest in the German Radical Left
Moghaddari Sonja (2020), The Affective Ambiguity of Solidarity: Resonance Within Anti-Deportation Protest in the German Radical Left, in Critical Sociology, 0896920520-0896920520.
Localizing Iranian diaspora politics: A comparative approach to transnational critique and incorporation
Moghaddari Sonja (2020), Localizing Iranian diaspora politics: A comparative approach to transnational critique and incorporation, in Confluences Méditerranée, N°113(2), 77-77.
Internal Diversity and Transnational Capital - Iranian Others in Hamburg
Moghaddari Sonja, Internal Diversity and Transnational Capital - Iranian Others in Hamburg, Palgrave Macmillan, London, New York.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Steven Vertovec/SCD Department/Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Heike Drotbohm/University of Mainz Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Scott MacLochlainn/Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Donatella della Porta Italy (Europe)
- Publication
Karl Swinehart United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Paolo Boccagni Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Felix Ringel Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- Publication
Heath Cabot/University of Pittsburgh United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Olaf Zenker/Fribourg University Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Sara de Jong/York University Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Elias Steinhilper Germany (Europe)
- Publication
Thomas Feist/Bielefeld University Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Empires of memory/Max Planck Institute research group Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
European Association for Social Anthropologists biennial conference Talk given at a conference ‘When do we stop being refugees?’ A life-course approach to relational dynamics in migrant protest 14.08.2018 Stockholm, Sweden Moghaddari Sonja;
Workshop “Ask the ‘experts’? Positionalities of researchers and public figures of migrant background in European debates about immigration” Talk given at a conference Vibrationshintergrund’: Intersectional perspectives on migranticized public figures’ positionalities in German debates about immigration 28.06.2018 Göttingen, Germany Moghaddari Sonja;
Workshop, Peasant Activism Project and EASA’s “Anthropology and Social Movements” network Talk given at a conference Imagining equality: Negotiating value regimes in feminist migrant-pro-migrant activism 08.12.2017 Perugia, Italy Moghaddari Sonja;
Workshop “Iran: Mobilités, circulations et production de savoir” Talk given at a conference Aux interstices des incertitudes: Les relations entre professionnels du film iraniens en Allemagne 14.11.2017 Tehran, Iran Moghaddari Sonja;
Colloquium, Department of Sociology Individual talk Value regimes in migration: Linking local differentiation and transnational capital 25.10.2017 Bielefeld, Germany Moghaddari Sonja;
German Anthropological Association (GAA) biennial conference Talk given at a conference Diversity in pro-refugee activism: Negotiations at the interstices of value regimes and social cohesion in Germany 04.10.2017 Berlin, Germany Moghaddari Sonja;
Doctoral Seminar “Religions, Refugees and Relocation” Individual talk (Dis)continuities of exclusion and inclusion: Hamburg’s Senate and the local Shia mosque between 1950 and today 13.06.2017 Bielefeld, Germany Moghaddari Sonja;
Team meeting, Department of Socio-Cultural Diversity, MMG-MPG Individual talk Negotiating value regimes in in-group differentiation: Local-global interconnections 04.05.2017 Göttingen, Germany Moghaddari Sonja;
Déjeuners sociologiques Individual talk Relations among ethno-racially othered and the intersection of value regimes 02.03.2017 Geneva, Switzerland Moghaddari Sonja;


Self-organised

Title Date Place

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Meeting of the Förderverein Iranisch-Islamisches Grabfeld Ohlsdorf Talk 21.04.2017 Hamburg, Germany Moghaddari Sonja;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Anthropologies of the Future EASA Network of Ethnographic Theory International 2020
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Dire la colère en Iran : subjectivités entre censure et non-censure Carnets de terrain International 2020
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Fieldnotes on interpretation and the limits of activist-research Blog of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity International 2018
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) On (not) being there: Affective simultaneity across place and time Allegra Lab Blog International 2018

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
180701 Engaging inequalities: Positionalities within migrant-pro-migrant activism in a changing Italian society 01.09.2018 Postdoc.Mobility
191021 Engaging inequalities: Spirituality within pro-refugee protest in the Italian and German radical left 01.09.2020 Return CH Postdoc.Mobility

Abstract

Western societies are, ever increasingly, culturally pluralistic. The so-called ‘refugee-crisis’, i.e. the arrival of people by the thousands traveling across the Mediterranean and the through the Balkans since the summer of 2015, raises the issue of social cohesion in the German society. Within the important movements of solidarity in Germany, the number of established migrants and their children is surprisingly high. People identifying as Iranians’ humanitarian activities and public media advocacy are particularly visible. This observation contradicts existing scholarship that claims established migrants tend to seek distinction from newcomers who might endanger their social position. Between research that sees humanitarian aid as a consolidation of existing power relations and studies that underline its capacity to challenge these structures, where is the Iranians’ engagement to be situated? In this postdoctoral research project, I conceive of Iranians’ humanitarian and advocacy work for recently mobile people as a social site of diversity in the sense that its social dynamics are shaped by the interaction of a multitude of modes of difference. I build on my doctoral studies where I showed that Iranians create or deconstruct social boundaries among themselves as a tool to optimize their chances to generate capital. Their boundary work can therefore be seen as an engagement with relations of inequality deriving from local and transnational hegemonic regimes of value. Thus, studying social differentiation in migrant-pro-migrant activism will allow me to indicate how regimes of value shaping the perception of immigration in general, and of cultural difference in particular, evolve in the post-2015 German society. In a seven-month multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork, I will apply various qualitative methods to study individual trajectories, boundary-work in social encounters, and the reception of categories prominent in the German society. This research thus aims to address the issue of diversity through the lens of pro-migrant activism that takes into account the historical depth and transnational interrelations that shape contemporary social processes.
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