CFP Who Belongs? Immigrants, Refugees, Migrants

Publication OpportunitiesCall for Papers: Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis (Special Issue): Who Belongs? Immigrants, Refugees, Migrants, and Actions Towards Justice

Over the past year, both in the U.S. and Europe, far-right nationalist and white supremacist organizations have led a massive assault on the human rights of immigrants, refugees, and migrants, resulting in multiple acts of violence against individuals and communities and a general climate of fear. Notably, this assault has been supported by the most mainstream of political actors, ranging from elected officials in the U.S. who advocate for travel bans targeted at people who are Muslim and deportation raids targeted at the Latinx community to the racist and xenophobic political platforms of leading candidates for the highest of political offices in France and Austria. In this issue, we seek to engage this political landscape by asking the question: Who belongs? This question raises significant abstract issues, including: the legitimacy and construction of nationstates; theories of democratic governance and legal systems; notions of citizenship; intersections between racialized, gendered, and classed social identities; and, processes of imperialism and colonization. The question also raises significant issues that are more concrete, including: access to public resources (such as education, housing, and health care); policies and processes of “legal” documentation; activist and community mobilization; sanctuary cities; U.S. and European military intervention; the militarization of law enforcement in the U.S. and abroad; neoliberal economic policies; and, ongoing anti- and post- colonial struggles across the globe. We thus invite scholars and activists from a range of disciplinary and professional positions to submit work (research articles, conceptual essays, book reviews, and poems) that illuminates these and other issues that are central to political struggle for the rights of immigrants, refugees, and migrants.

Submission Timeline Deadline: Friday, September 1, 2017
Anticipated Publication: January 2018

 

Refugees, Germany, Willkommenskultur and Intercultural Communication

Response to Dominic Busch’s guest post by Peter Praxmarer

Executive Director of EMICC (European Masters in Intercultural Communication)
Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) Lugano, Switzerland


Refugees, Germany, Willkommenskultur and Intercultural Communication

I find myself in almost full agreement with what Dominic Busch writes.

In particular, I find his reflections on language in what he calls “internal social discourse,” pertinent and well taken. Also, the fact that “the cultural argument” has been hijacked by the far right and the national populists, in our times, is not surprising. This would, by the way, merit a little more research: attention to the culture of others has more often than not been a child of animosity, enmity, hostility, rejection if not outright war, as the history of exclusion, but also of conquest, colonialism, imperialism, and domination in general, amply testifies. As we (should) know, the very idea of “intercultural communication” as a more or less independent field of study, research and practical application was born during WWII, as part of the “war effort” of the US (viz. Leeds-Hurwitz). From this, also, stems the particular and sometimes incongruent vocabulary of the field, which is utterly US-social-science-lingo dominated, with some inroads from languages which still claim their droit de cité in the global social science supermarket (or, more benignly stated, the Global Republic of Letters), e.g. French and German. The field of study called intercultural communication became less war-related only later (but not everywhere), when  nation- and culture-crossing processes and constellations other than war started to play a more important role in the modern world-system (to follow Immanuel Wallerstein’s still pertinent terminology, preferring it to the shallow term “globalization”) – but it has kept its very peculiar vocabulary, at least in the mainstream.

Aside from that, while reflecting upon the present discourse on refugees in Germany and the “cultural” problems of the more or less autochthon residents (the “Old Germans”, as Busch cites a fellow professor in his piece) with them, it is worthwhile also to reflect on the position of the very term Kultur in Germany. In Germany, and not only during Nazi times, there has long existed an attitude which was described as Am deutschen Wesen mag/soll die Welt genesen, meaning that German culture is the remedy for all other (cultural) ills, all over the world. The Allied Propaganda posters, both in WWI as in WWII, took up this cultural theme. Thus, e.g., US War Propaganda during WWI showed a Mad German Brute holding a club with written Kultur on it, or an US Sleeping Beauty by the name of Civilization, calling every man, woman and child to war  – these and similar illustrations were meant to convey that deutsche Kultur is not so peaceful as other civilizations. In historical perspective, one has to agree. Looking into what was done in the name of German Kultur and how Kultur was used during WWII and before, would just confirm the very xenophobic and worse essence of it, inhumanely and most horrendously. (Caveat: Allied war propaganda is not presented here as an authoritative source, but only to provide a stark illustration of the use of the cultural argument; and many other than German “cultures” and “civilizations” certainly also have their share in war, conquest and violence-in-the-name-of-culture, epitomized, e.g., by “The White Man’s Burden” or the “mission civilisatrice”.)

Therefore, and also in view of the fact that the populist right wing and nationalistic parties have been able to hijack the term “culture” for their purposes, it is so good to see how civil society in Germany has constructed a new culture which is not national or völkisch, nor aggressive or expansionist, but welcoming: Willkommenskultur. In addition, even the counterpart to civil society, the German state, not least through its Chancellor, is, to varying degrees and for various reasons, in favor of taking in refugees, as is, again for still other reasons and purposes, the economy and a great part of the media. A beautiful page in the otherwise not always so beautiful book of contemporary Europe. And also a great example of (co-)constructed (inter-)culture, as well as of the fact that  “culture” never stands alone and cannot be meaningfully explained without taking into account history, society, economy, the polity, as well as, in our day and age, the many influences and experiences of mediated virtual reality in all its forms.

Yet, I also want to mention a point of potential disagreement with what Busch writes, regarding the role of Intercultural Communication Studies and Research. It is certainly true that the term “culture” has been critically evaluated, and the field is rapidly moving away from an essentialist and relatively static position to a more constructivist interactional and dynamic view of culture, in very simple terms privileging “communication” and “inter” over “culture”. However, by and large the main concern of intercultural communication research has been predominantly either relatively elite or middle-class or strictly utilitarian, covering, e.g. management or other professional groups, hospitals, schools, the military, police, development cooperation, etc. Relatively rarely concerned with, e.g., social integration per se (if not in special trainings for social workers, etc.), or with social integration from below (viz. the reference to Conflict Discourse Ethnocentrism in Busch’s text). In other words, the field has been center- and middle-class- or elite-focused, and not periphery- and non-elite, and where non-elite, then mostly only in terms of social management of deviations from norms or dangers from (culturally defined) others. This has also impacted our methodology: we have not always tried to understand, but we have been “overstanding”, as Raimon Panikkar so masterly phrased it already a quarter of a century ago. This is exacerbated when interculturalists (have to) jump on data-driven “fast science” jets instead of cultivating philosophy-fertilized “slow science” gardens, since this leaves no time to reflect either on the cui bono question or on participative methods or more sophisticated research questions than the ones required and funded by the global social science marketplaces – and it most certainly does not give a voice to those directly researched upon and with. Also for these reasons (conceptual, exemplified by “culture”, as well as methodologically), I would argue, we have so little to say when it comes to refugee crises, or to horrorism/terrorism, or to many other social “problems”. One reason why “the cultural argument” has been so successfully hijacked by the right and the nationalists, could therefore probably be that the interculturalists have far too long worked – even if engaging in what Busch calls a “sophisticated” debate – with a de-historisized, de-socialized, de-materialized, de-economized, de-politicized and overly value-oriented and psychologized concept of culture (and communication, for that matter). In other words, if one wants to understand (parts of) social reality in terms of culture and communication (and “inter” dynamics and processes), one has to look at it as what Busch calls, following Michel Foucault a “Dispositiv” (“dispositif” or “apparatus” in Foucault’s terminology). Likewise, it is necessary to overcome the “Unbearable Lightness of Communication Research”, as The International Communication Gazette tellingly titles its forthcoming 2016 Special Issue.

This critical look at the field is of course not meant to belittle the many initiatives of academic interculturalists in Germany, of which “Helfern helfen” of the intercultural campus of the Interkultureller Hochschulverband is but one. Or the numerous other initiatives undertaken by people who have studied intercultural communication and want to put their knowledge to good use; not to forget all those who practice sustainable – and sustained — intercultural communication in their daily dealings with the Stranger, the Migrant, the Refugee, the Other. It is simply a call for more “social” intercultural communication studies – more social in more than one sense.

Comics for Equality wins Intercultural Innovation Award

This video presents the Comics for Equality project, which won the Intercultural Innovation Award 2014, a partnership between United Nations Alliance of Civilisations and BMW Group. The project was selected from more than 600 projects worldwide and will be part of one-year capacity-building program.

✔ Take a look at the website: http://www.comix4equality.eu
✔ Join them on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Comix4equality

The project ComiX4= is led by Africa e Mediterraneo (Italy), in partnership with NGO Mondo (Estonia), Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation (Bulgaria), ARCA (Romania), Grafiskie stasti (Latvia), Hamelin Associazione Culturale (associate partner-Italy) and Multi Kulti Collective Association (associate partner – Bulgaria).

The project aims to foster intercultural dialogue to combat racism, xenophobia and discrimination in Europe, with a particular focus on Italy, Bulgaria, Estonia, Romania and Latvia. In order to achieve this aim, the project seeks to involve migrants and second-generation immigrants – often the subjects of discrimination – in the creation of an artistic resource – comics – to be used to combat racism and xenophobia.

The main activities are the ComiX4= Comics for Equality Award – a competition for the best unpublished comic strip authors with migrant backgrounds, an interactive website, a “Comics Handbook” for creative workshops in informal education, an itinerant exhibition and comics’ workshops across Europe.

With financial support from the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme of the European Union – 2012/

Euro-Med Dialogue Award 2013

The Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for Dialogue between Cultures (ALF) and Fondazione Mediterraneo (FM) are launching the Eighth edition of the Euro-Mediterranean Award for Dialogue between Cultures, an annual prize which recognizes the achievements of individuals and organisation working for the promotion of intercultural dialogue. This year’s theme is ”Migrants as Ambassadors for Mutual Understanding”.

The Anna Lindh Foundation invites all its network members in the 42 countries across the Euro-Med Region to nominate the best candidates for this year’s award which will bestow organisation(s) or individual enhancing dialogue involving migrants as main target group and actors for mutual understanding, taking into account the multiple facets and the interactions existing between development, democracy, diversity and dialogue. The deadline for nomination is 10 September 2013.

The selection of the winner of the Euro-Med Award is a participatory process which involves the Heads of the Networks and the members alike. The Anna Lindh Foundation for Inter-Cultural Dialogue promotes knowledge, mutual respect and inter-cultural dialogue between the people of the Euro-Mediterranean region, working through a network of more than 3,000 civil society organisations in 43 countries. Its budget is co-funded by the EU (7 million euros) and the EU member states (6 million euro).

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