Democracy and Forced Migration

Refugees are affected by international law and national legislation in many ways, without being able to democratically influence these laws. Unlike the citizens of a democratic state, they are not considered part of the self-governing ‘people’. This problem of political exclusion and the resulting struggles for inclusion have long been the subject of theoretical reflection in general and democratic theory in particular.

The working group “Democracy and Refugees” has set itself the task of identifying theoretical concepts which, through their focus on questions of inclusion and exclusion, provide starting points for transfer to the refugee issue. Even if the respective approaches from political theory and philosophy often do not directly deal with the issue of forced migration, the argumentations developed in them can nevertheless contribute to articulating the problematic situations associated with forced migration and exclusion more clearly, to gaining new perspectives on them, and thereby also to broadening the possibilities of an argumentative exchange on the topic. In doing so, we assume that concepts such as representation theory, democratic theory, but also hegemony theory, postcolonial or communitarian concepts can not only be profitably ‘applied’ to the topic, but that these approaches can also profit from such application in reverse, insofar as they can thereby be ‘tested’ and, if necessary, also modified and further developed.

Concrete issues that arise in this context range from the question of the integration capacity of modern societies and transcultural communication procedures to the chances and problems of political representation and the question of the status and limits of the demos: How is the relationship between universalistically based refugee protection and the democratic self-legislation of particular political communities to be understood? Do the two contradict each other, or can refugee protection itself be strengthened and advanced by democratic means? What understanding of democracy would have to be developed for this purpose? And what role do the already established structures of self-organizations of refugees and their protests of the last years and decades play in this?

The members of the working group meet several times a year, for example in the form of informal workshops on individual authors, theories or specific questions on the topic, or to present their own academic work to each other and discuss it critically together. The working group is open to all interested parties – we welcome new members.

Members of the working group (in alphabetical order):

  • Maria Becker
  • Dirk Bornschein
  • Mareike Gebhardt
  • Daniel Kersting
  • Lena Laube
  • Moritz Riemann
  • Beatrice Schlee
  • Maria Ullrich
  • Christin Younso
  • Natascha Zaun

Coordinators: Mareike Gebhardt

Dr. Daniel Kersting