Perspectives on Refugee Participation

Conference (audio recording available, in German and English)

Given the discourse on flight, migration and refugees in Europe and Germany, the conference is dedicated to discussing what opportunities people have to participate in a plural society. Against what historical and political backdrop are the current debates on flight and migration taking place? How are borders of belonging negotiated and how are these reflected not only in the opportunities but also in the limitations of refugees’ participation? What strategies are required in order to facilitate social, political and cultural participation? And, last but not least, what expectations do refugees themselves place on participation?

recording available

Map with all buildings that belong to the Jewish Museum Berlin. The Old Building is marked in green


Old Building, level 2, Great Hall
Lindenstraße 9–14, 10969 Berlin

The event is the opening of the conference Im/Possibilities. Perspectives on Refugee Participation, a cooperation of the W. Michael Blumenthal Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Forum Berlin.

Letters “Un/Möglichkeiten” (Im/Possibilities)

CC BY-NC 2.0, Victor Jolyot (modified from the original print)

Letters “Un/Möglichkeiten” (Im/Possibilities)

Audio recording of the keynote and panel discussion on 29 March 2017, in German and English; Jewish Museum Berlin 2017

Opening Event: Keynote and Panel Discussion

Abstract Keynote

"The Current Crisis of Europe: Refugees, Colonialism, and the Limits of Cosmopolitanism" by Gurminder K Bhambra

“Cosmopolitan Europe,” that normative commitment that undergirds the project of union, is under threat as never before. This is manifest perhaps most prominently in Europe’s collective failure to respond to the crisis for refugees. As people flee war and destruction, we, in Europe, debate whether now is not the time to give up on our human rights commitments. France is under a state of emergency and the UK in the process of withdrawing from the Union and its associated institutions (including the European Convention on Human Rights). Voices have been raised against the burdens, financial and social, placed upon us by those we see as Other, with the Pope a seemingly lone public voice calling for Europe to remember its traditions of hospitality. In this talk, I discuss the growing distance between the claims and practice of European cosmopolitanism, its roots in our shared colonial past, and the implications for the future.

Gurminder K Bhambra

Gurminder K Bhambra is Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick, UK, and also Guest Professor of Sociology and History at Concurrences Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies at Linnaeus University, Sweden. She is author of Rethinking Modernity (Palgrave) and Connected Sociologies (Bloomsbury). She writes on historical sociology, citizenship, and the continuing legacies of colonial modernity.

Conference Program

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Where: Jewish Museum Berlin, Lindenstr. 9 – 14,10969 Berlin, Old Building, level 2, Great Hall
7 pm

Words of welcome

Serpil Polat, Academy Programs, Jewish Museum Berlin

7.15 pm

Keynote speech
The Current Crisis of Europe: Refugees, Colonialism, and the Limits of Cosmopolitanism

Prof. Dr. Gurminder K Bhambra, University of Warwick, UK

The keynote speech will be held in English (simultaneous German interpretation provided).

7.45 pm

Panel discussion
Europe for all – an im/possible vision?

Prof. Dr. Gurminder K Bhambra, University of Warwick, UK

Petra Köpping, Member of the Regional Parliament of Saxony, State Minister for Gender Equality and Integration

Prof. Dr. Manuela Bojadžijev, Leuphana University Lüneburg/Berlin Institute for Empirical Research on Integration and Migration (BIM), HU Berlin

Rex Osa, Refugees4Refugees

Andrea Dernbach, Der Tagesspiegel

The panel discussion will be held in English and German with simultaneous interpretation provided.

9 pm

Conclusion of day with reception

Conference Program

Im/Possibilities. Perspectives on Refugee Participation

Download (PDF / 200.41 KB / in English)

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Where: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Hiroshimastraße 17, Haus 1, 10785 Berlin
10.30 am

Words of welcome

Felix Eikenberg, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Forum Berlin

10.45 am

Round table
Refugees in Germany – Take part, be part!

For most refugees, the first stage of arrival has now been concluded. The question to be asked today is how political, cultural and social participation can be achieved. What best practice examples exist and what are the obstacles? What should policymakers do to ensure that refugees do not become mere objects but a natural and active part of society?

State Minister Aydan Özoğuz, Member of the Bundestag, Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration

Prof. Dr. Carmen Mörsch, Zurich University of the Arts

Eben Chu, Refugees Emancipation e. V.

Dr. Dietmar Molthagen, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Forum Berlin

This plenary session will take place with English/German/Arabic interpretation.

11.30 am

Small group talks and discussion in the plenary session

12.15 pm

Lunch break

1.15 pm

Parallel forums

Forum 1
Representation in the media

How are refugees depicted in the German (and European) media? What positive and negative stereotypes exist? Do refugees themselves have a say and, if so, in what capacity?

Dr. Chadi Bahouth, Neue Deutsche Medienmacher (New German Media Professionals)

This forum will be held in German.

Forum 2
Aid between solidarity and paternalism

By assisting millions of refugees, voluntary helpers are conveying an impressive image of personal commitment and dedication. But do good intentions always translate into good deeds? What expectations do those assisting and those being assisted have of each other? Do refugees receive the assistance that they need most and where do the paternalist dangers lurk?

Felix Eikenberg, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Forum Berlin


Thomas M. Ochieng, refugee coordinator and media producer

Bernd Schüler, Project Manager "Ankommenspatenschaften“ (Arrive Sponsorships), Federal Association of Volunteer Services (bagfa)

This forum will take place with English/German/Arabic interpretation.

Forum 3
Political participation at local level

This forum will investigate the relationship between civil society and local government. How are political spaces created where responses can be jointly formulated to the needs and concerns of newcomers and long-established communities alike in our rapidly changing demographics? What are the main ingredients for effective strategies for political participation? How can civil society organisations and local city administrations gain trust and respect for each other?

Klaus Dik Nielsen, Advocate on Inclusion


Dr. Abdulkadir Osman Farah, AarhuSomali, Denmark

Lena Haddenhorst, Fachstelle Inklusion der Stadt Oldenburg

This forum will be held in English.

3.15 pm

Coffee break

3.45 pm

What exactly is integration?

Firas Alshater, comedian and author

4 pm

Closing fishbowl
Prospects, limits, ambivalences: What means of participation do refugees have?

Comments on the conference from different observers, followed by a discussion

Khalid Alaboud, journalist, Amal, Berlin!

Eben Chu, Refugees Emancipation e. V.

Sharmila Hashimi, journalist, Amal, Berlin!

Dr. Chadi Bahouth, Neue Deutsche Medienmacher (New German Media Professionals)

This plenary session will take place with English/German/Arabic interpretation.

5 pm


Where, when, what?

  • When29 + 30 Mar 2017
  • Where Old Building, level 2, Great Hall
    Lindenstraße 9–14, 10969 Berlin
    See location on map

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