Exclusion practises in the context of immigration in the City of Halle-Saale, Germany

Been defined by a number of anthropologists – (e.g. Eidson et al., 2017) – as “the ways in which actors engage with the categories on which collective identities are based” (p. 4), one way to deal with the question of exclusion and inclusion practices, in the social arena, is through associating it to the issue of group identification (e.g. Schrover and Schinkel, 2013; Schlee and Horstmann, 2017). Taking this as a starting point, this project also links exclusion practices to group identification and examines it in the context of immigration in the city of Halle-Neustadt in Germany. It endeavours to examine the nature of exclusion practises among the different “immigrant” groups1, particularly Syrians living in that part of the city. The project problematizes the general view that depicts refugees and immigrants as only marginalized or excluded “groups” and consider them as important actors in this range of local dynamics. It scrutinizes exclusion practices via a number of interconnected categories of analysis that comprise acts, actors, reaction, areas, moments, and representation2 of exclusion. Nonetheless, more focus will be placed upon the socio/cultural values upon which “acts of exclusion” are performed. This indicates that the major focus of this project is on the question of representation of exclusion. Here, it will investigate how exclusion is represented among the different groups living in the study area through standardized emblems and symbols3. Given that “symbols tend to be multivocal and represent the same or different thing or things in the mind of different persons” (Schlee, 2008, p. 70) the study will mostly focus on a more practical and down to earth forms of “representations” of exclusions.

With reference to the other dimensions of exclusion, apart from normative acts of exclusion, the study will also deal with other cases of exclusion the causes behind which are not necessarily the standard or regular – e.g. directly instigated by the act of identification with a particular collective identity.

The main areas or arenas of exclusion that I will focus on in this study includes all places in which people meet and interact (e.g. markets, shops, banks, schools, cafes, and work place) in Halle-Neustadt. However, the study will reflect on some narratives and cases of exclusion from Halle Saale as well. With regard to moments of exclusion, the recent massive immigrations from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe to Germany are considered as ideal moments of exclusion. This is due to the fact that it is a moment in which people of different national, economic, racial/ethnic, social, religious backgrounds have met and shared one social setting in which they are supposed to live together despite their differences.


As regards the methodology of my study, I will collect both primary and secondary data. The sources of my secondary data include books, papers, documents, reports, internet websites, newspapers, administrative reports, maps, plans, and diagrams. Here, I will try to cover the most important and, of course, relevant contemporary works regarding sociabilities, exclusion practices, migration and integration in Germany, Europe, and internationally.

Concerning the primary data, I will use the techniques of classical ethnographic research. I will carry out a fieldwork for one year in Halle-Neustadt and use different techniques that include observing activities of interest in the area, recording field-notes and observations, participating in activities during observations, and carrying out various forms of informal and semi-structured ethnographic interviewing. This will be accompanied by conducting a questionnaire in different locations that are characterized by population diversity in Halle-Neustadt.

As for participant observation, I will use it throughout the fieldwork period. Here, I will look at the everyday activities of the individuals and groups, Syrian immigrants in particular, who in Halle-Neustadt in particular and Halle Saale in general. My observations will cover the places in which people meet and interact (e.g. markets, shops, hospitals, work places and etc.). That is to say, interactions of individuals and “groups” inside these arenas will be at the heart of my observations. I will make special note of the labels, classifications, and categories that the people use to describe or identify themselves and others, particularly in relation to immigrants and refugees.

With reference to informal interviews, I will conduct them in both Halle-Neustadt and Halle Saale. I will interview individuals from different groups, particularly Syrians, and listen to their stories on their experiences of integration and exclusion, if they happened to encounter it. I will try to make my interviews representative for all the people live in the study area. Narratives will also be collected from people of immigrant backgrounds who encountered exclusion practices in work place.

Similarly, I will conduct semi-structured interviews with different figures from official governmental institutions, local administrations, community leaders, school teachers, together with members of associations of sociocultural centres of migrant groups.


Eidson, J. R. et al. (2017) ‘From Identification to Framing and Alignment: A New Approach to the Comparative Analysis of Collective Identities’, Current Anthropology, 58(3), pp. 340–359. doi: 10.1086/691970.
Schlee, G. (2004) ‘Taking Sides and Constructing Identities: Reflections on Conflict Theory’, The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 10(1), pp. 135–156. doi: 10.2307/3804101.
Schlee, G. (2008) How Enemies are Made: Towards a Theory of Ethnic and Religious Conflicts. Berghahn Books.
Schlee, G. and Horstmann, A. (eds) (2017) Difference and Sameness as Modes of Integration: Anthropological Perspectives on Ethnicity and Religion. New York/ Oxford: Berghahn Books.
Schrover, M. and Schinkel, W. (2013) ‘Introduction: the language of inclusion and exclusion in the context of immigration and integration’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 36(7), pp. 1123–1141. doi: 10.1080/01419870.2013.783711.


1 According to data collected by office of statistics in Halle Saale, the main groups living in Halle-Neustadt comprise the Germans; immigrant groups from Eastern Europe (e.g. Romanian, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Bulgarian); immigrant groups from central Asia (e.g. Afghan and Turk); and immigrant groups from the Horn of Africa and Western Africa. 

2 The term Representation is defined in social science as a standard of values, concepts, symbols, beliefs, and practices that are shared among the members of the same group.

3 The term 'emblem' has sometimes been used as a synonym for 'symbol', sometimes for something simpler than a symbol, or, if in the hierarchy of concepts 'symbol' has been used for a more inclusive category, for a simpler type of symbol.

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