The Challenges of Migration, Integration and Exclusion (WiMi) is a 3-year research initiative (2017-2020) financed by the Max Planck Society and led by Prof. Dr Marie-Claire Foblets (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle/Saale) and Prof. Dr Steven Vertovec (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen). Prof Dr Ayelet Shachar (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen) is a founding co-chair of the initiative. The project is coordinated by Dr Zeynep Yanasmayan, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (Halle).

Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law
Prof. Dr Armin von Bogdandy, Catharina Ziebritzki

Decisions on exclusion and inclusion in the EU and beyond. 

How does the EU react to deficiencies in national asylum administrations, in particular systemic deficiencies and ‘hotspots’ at the EU external border? How can these responses of the EU, in particular operational support by EASO, be legally evaluated from the perspective of the individual (i.e., the affected asylum seeker) and from the perspective of the administration (i.e., Member States and the EU)? From the perspective of the individual: Are the EU responses new mechanisms of exclusion, or do they have an including effect? Which trends can be identified in the evolution of the European Administration in the CEAS?

Usually, exclusion in the context of migration is understood as ‘exclusion through law’, i.e., through a legal decision as outcome of an administrative procedure. This project instead focuses on an earlier stage: ‘exclusion from law’, i.e., no possibility of access to a legal procedure due to systemic deficiencies in the administration (sometimes described as ‘legal limbo’). The aim is (i) to identify the problem (systemic deficiencies, ‘hotspots’); (ii) to analyse the responses of the EU to that problem using the categories of convincing, forcing, supporting, or substituting a deficient administration (asymmetric Europeanization of administrative power); (iii) to evaluate the responses of the EU from the perspective of the individual and the European Administration; and (iv) to propose alternative responses.

Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research/Population Europe
Dr Silvia Loi,Dr Anna Oksuzyan,Dr Daniela Vono de Vilhena

Vanishing health advantage of migrants over time and across generations

This project aims to study three interrelated phenomena: the health conditions of migrants, changes in these conditions over time, and health differentials across generations of migrants, with a particular focus on the role played by social exclusion in these processes.

Good health is an essential prerequisite for full participation in society. For migrants, being healthy in the host country facilitates access to education, language, vocational training, and the labor market, and it is crucial for taking part in society more broadly. Furthermore, poor health is directly and indirectly connected to social exclusion. As such, health and social inclusion are two mutually reinforcing phenomena.

Using high quality register and survey data, this project focuses on migrant–native health and mortality differentials in the European context and the impact of various dimensions of social exclusion – access to higher levels of the social hierarchy, the labour market, and legal status and/or permanent residence, etc. – on health conditions. We further examine the extent to which social exclusion is caused by or causes poor health.

Gender differences in health and mortality by ethnic background – a register-based study

Research indicates that migrants have a survival advantage relative to native populations, although they may also report poorer health, more chronic diseases, and more mental health problems. One important step towards understanding both the health challenges and benefits encountered by migrants in European countries is to consider the contextual factors surrounding migration. Persons who migrate to follow family members or as refugees may encounter problems in the host country that differ from those faced by people who migrate for work or study. The health of migrants may also depend on whether individuals arrive on their own, after other family members who have already migrated, or with family, as well as whether they are married to other migrants or to native-born persons. Gender is another important contextual factor that structures migration experiences but is often overlooked in studies assessing migrant health and survival. Using high-quality register and survey data, the present project examines the role of these contextual characteristics in explaining variations in health and survival among migrants to Europe, with a specific focus on whether and how these patterns vary by gender.

Undocumented migrants and irregular workers in Germany: policy challenges and approaches 1950–2019

This project is focused on irregular migration in Germany. According to the International Organization for Migration, irregular migrants are individuals who enter, stay, or work in a country without the necessary authorization or documents required under immigration regulations. In practice, an irregular status is one of the most important factors in enforcing the social exclusion of immigrants within receiving countries, as defining an individual as irregular is, per se, an act of exclusion. Despite holding no rights within the countries of migration and being ‘officially’ excluded as citizens, individuals categorized as ‘irregular’ nevertheless still participate in social life by working, consuming goods, and establishing personal relationships, just like any other citizen. Due to the non-registered nature of this phenomenon, however, an accurate assessment of its dimensions is extremely difficult. In order to contribute to the research on irregular migration in Germany, this project is structured around four main objectives: (1) to elaborate a state-of-the-art report on the literature covering irregular migrants in Germany; (2) to collect immigration laws and analyse how irregular migration has been regulated at the national level since 1950; (3) to compile and evaluate the scope of the empirical data available on the topic; and (4) to identify the main constraints of the current system and scenarios for future initiatives in order to promote better knowledge and governance.

Max Planck Institute for Human Development

Prof. Dr Margrit Pernau, Dr Benno Gammerl, Dr Deepra Dandekar, Dr Soňa Mikulová

Migration and exclusion: refugees to India after 1947

The independence of India and Pakistan from Britain in 1947 was accompanied by the two-way migration of more than 10 million Hindus and Muslims across the newly formed political boundaries. While the partition between the two countries was generally viewed as a product of the nationalist struggle that was then complicated by mass participation in the ensuing violence during the population exchange, the newly formed states of India and Pakistan were instrumental in sharpening the lines of demarcation between emotional communities based on religious differences between Hindus and Muslims. This project focuses on exclusion and explores the various perspectives on the meaning of home and nation that defined emotional communities based on religious identities in India. Working with archival records and documentary evidence, the researchers will analyse the formation of multiple contested identities and emotional communities among refugees after the partition, as they fled from their former homes and hoped to build new ones. The project will study the ways in which refugees engaged with transitory emotional communities in camps while they, as migrants, struggled to construct an imagined ideal community, home, and nation. The idea of a home, however, was not always uniform among refugees, as women and men, divided according to castes, professions, regions, religions, and languages, had differing perceptions of their status and the places where they found themselves. Their participation in constructing new and plural emotional groups remained intensely debated and ultimately came to exert an impact on postcolonial conflicts in India.

Integration of Sudeten Germans into Germany after 1945: inclusion, exclusion, and emotional communities

In 1945 about 12 million Germans based in Central and Eastern European countries lost their homes. Those who in the last months of the war fled to save their lives were, in the first post-war years, joined by those who were expelled, often violently, from German-occupied countries. Although legally ‘equal’ and belonging to the same nation, these newcomers faced ignorance, contempt, racism, and hostility from the local population. At the beginning, they were neither welcomed nor included in the emotional community of the receiving society. The parallel existence of other emotional communities in which the expellees gathered was strengthened by the fact that many of them considered their stay in Germany to be temporary and were waiting for the right moment to return to their former homes. For many decades, this self-exclusion led some of the expellees to act as a political group in West Germany. They did this to protect their material claims and the identities they connected to their old homelands. Drawing on archival documents, newspapers, literature, biographies, and interviews, this project will explore the impact of the influx of Sudeten German expellees from Czechoslovakia on established emotional communities and the interaction between the local population and the newcomers.

Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Dr Luc Leboeuf, Dr Tabea Scharrer, Zahir Musa Abdal-Kareem

The exclusion of migrants in a fragmented international legal environment

This project investigates how international law impacts the selection process in Europe that determines which migrants are granted the right to remain and which are not. It focuses on the use actors make of international law – in the case of states, to organize the selection of migrants; in the case of migrants, to fight against being excluded.

The project takes as its starting point two indisputable facts about international law and migration law. First, it is inherent in the very nature of migration law to organize a process of selection among migrants – there is no such thing as free border crossing. Second, most international instruments governing migration are ad hoc instruments that were adopted in a specific political and historical context. Each pursues its own logic and sometimes has its own monitoring body. Building on these two facts, the researchers intend to document how international law constrains the development of European migration policies. They will therefore focus on the concrete use of international law by European states and by migrants. The project ultimately aims to reflect on how international law may develop to allow for coherent and fair selection mechanisms based on an equilibrium between the effectiveness of migration policies and respect for certain core values.

Belonging nowhere or everywhere? Somalian return migrants in East Africa

This project focuses on how experiences of migration shape people’s decisions to stay in the country of migration or to remigrate, and what specific possibilities and logics these patterns of exclusion and inclusion enable and disable. Concentrating on Somalian return migrants in Kenya, the project will examine how new forms of solidarity and identification can emerge in the migration process. At the same time it will refine contemporary categorizations, such as the meaning of 'arrival' and 'return'.

When the Somalian exodus started at the beginning of the 1990s, most refugees fled to the neighbouring countries, including Kenya. Later on many Somalians (i.e., people from Somalia) moved to Europe or North America, but also to Arab countries. There is, however, a growing group of Somalian migrants who, after having lived in Europe, North America, or Arab countries for a number of years, are now 'returning' to East Africa. That means in many cases, however, that they settle in Kenya, as Somalia is still regarded as too dangerous and Somaliland is often seen as economically not promising enough. In Kenya they find a strong Somali community, made up of ethnic Somalis who are Kenyan citizens, as well as refugees from Somalia who live in Kenya.

Some of these Somalian migrants in Kenya are highly visible – these 'successful' returnees are often young adults or parents with children. The former mostly grew up outside of East Africa and often have no memory of Somalia. There are, however, also those Somalians who were forced to move back to the East African region. These 'deportees' were in many cases either legally or socio-economically excluded in the country of migration. The various factors contributing to their exclusion will be explored, such as age and generation, gender, status, and class, as well as the differing opportunities and conditions in the local contexts.

Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy
Dr Christian Hunkler, Dr Julia Hagn, Dr Romuald Méango, Dr Constantin Hruschka, Tim Rohmann

Lost potentials: the rights and lives of the excluded

The project aims at gaining insights into the legal and political factors that create and solidify mechanisms of exclusion, as well as into the socio-economic consequences of exclusion for migrants.

The recent immigration wave, consisting of predominantly young persons, bears the potential to absorb some of the economic challenges posed by demographic ageing. This relies, however, on the key question of how to achieve a smooth and rapid integration into the labour market and into regular employment. Taking migration to Germany since 2012 as a case study, we seek to answer a complex set of questions for which both legal expertise and insights from political/economic sciences are equally necessary.

The legal part of the project will map out how German law categorizes the different groups of migrants. A systematic analysis of existing legal statuses and corresponding social rights will uncover the normative trajectories of exclusion. In addition, it will provide the basis for comparison of those migrants who have entered the country illegally, who have exhausted the legal possibilities to stay, or who otherwise fall through the cracks. As the relevant legal provisions create a spectrum of possibilities and restrictions for the different types of migrants in Germany, conclusions will be derived with regard to the chances of integration for each group. They will also serve as hypotheses for the empirical part of the study, which will allow comparison of the relevance of these degrees of exclusion for integration.

In order to create an empirical basis for comparison, a quantitative survey of both documented and undocumented migrants will be conducted. The sampling procedure will be based on the method of Respondent-Driven Sampling, which is particularly suited to identifying a ‘hidden population’. Among other insights, the data gained from the survey will show the pathways that result in exclusion. Moreover, particular interest will be put on understanding the migrants’ skills and their investment in integrating, and on how these are affected by their prospects in Germany. Those empirical findings will, in turn, be aligned with the conclusions drawn from the legal analysis. Furthermore, they will be used to elaborate alternative policy approaches intended to prevent the exclusion mechanisms that the research uncovers.

Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity
Dr Miriam Schader, Magdalena Suerbaum

The social implications of legal statuses and determination processes among recent asylum seekers in Germany

This project seeks to analyse from an anthropological perspective how legal processes, conditions, and statuses impact the lives of asylum seekers in Germany. It starts from the premise that determination processes and the legal statuses given to newcomers upon their decision (or refusal) to seek asylum affect their lives in distinct ways, especially as they influence the newcomers’ access to resources, services, information, and advice. Furthermore, the newcomers’ legal status has implications for their earnings, health outcomes, housing, and social network formation. Thus, the project seeks to analyse newcomers’ everyday knowledge of and experiences with the German asylum system, as well as the practices and strategies they apply to cope with and navigate the system. The project follows asylum seekers in Germany and analyses how they pass through the various legal statuses from arrival and registration to asylum application, from waiting for the decision to the procedures following a negative or positive notice. It seeks to represent the variety of newcomers: those who have differing prospects of staying in Germany; those who originate from different countries; those who have diverse socioeconomic backgrounds and marital statuses. Key questions concern how asylum seekers understand legal statuses and their consequences, how they affect their lives, and how they deal with them. This includes questions relating to informal legal knowledge, perceptions of and the meaning people give to the German state, its authorities and required documents, as well as the handling of the German bureaucracy. Data is collected through ongoing, long-term ethnographic research in community and initial reception shelters, in advice centres providing legal support for asylum seekers and refugees, and in selected projects designed for the specific needs of refugees and migrants. Fieldwork is carried out in Berlin.

Local transformations

This project focuses on how local authorities in Germany respond to the recent arrival of larger numbers of asylum seekers. While the legal inclusion or exclusion of refugees as well as their access to social benefits depends to a great deal on EU, national, and regional (Länder) legislation, local authorities (Kommunen) shape the implementation of national and regional legislation such as the new integration law. They are therefore able, within the scope that these rules allow, to create their own rules. At the same time, the arrival of larger numbers of refugees has the potential to change the fabric of local societies and the structures, processes, and institutions concerning different aspects of local life. The project questions how, in a context of uncertainty, municipalities deal with the current influx of asylum seekers and how they thus contribute to the exclusion of forced migrants. It looks at how local authorities position themselves in the federal system with regard to the reception and participation of asylum seekers in local contexts, how they shape and transform the refugees’ situation, and how the most recent refugee influx in turn transforms (or does not transform) local administrations.

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