Papers are invited for a one-day interdisciplinary symposium for postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers on migration, identity and extremism in Germany. The event will be held at the Institute for German Studies (IGS), University of Birmingham on Friday 15th March 2019.

The symposium is designed as a forum for ECR researchers from various disciplines to present their work relating to the struggles and renegotiation of identity in the German host society including the revival of right-wing movements and extremism in the context of increased migration as well as the struggles that newcomers face in experiencing violence, rejection and exclusion.

Recent political developments such as the right-wing extremist demonstrations and violence in the city of Chemnitz as well as the fourth anniversary of PEGIDA show the continuous presence of right-wing social movements and extremism in Germany following increased levels of immigration in recent years. With the demonstrators’ chanting of ‘We are the people’ and other claims of resisting ‘the elite’, research has approached this phenomenon of right-wing movements and extremism from the angle of populism, people’s understanding of democracy, and the political science of protest and radical parties. Arguably neglected in academic discussions on right-wing social movements and extremism is the interplay with migration and the angle of identity politics and nationalism. This is particularly relevant given the increased number of attacks on migrants and asylum seeker accommodation centres. How are newcomers perceived and how does this influence constructions of national identity? What is the role of national identity in the ideology of right-wing movements as well as in wider society in this regard? How are such perceptions and identities explored and disseminated in the public sphere? How do they interact with other socio-economic issues? What measures are being taken (and/or could be taken in the future) to improve integration and social cohesion and how can these help to counter right-wing extremism?

The purpose of this event is to offer an opportunity to reflect on the interface of migration and extremism through the lens of national identity in Germany, as well as to explore avenues for improved social cohesion and the countering of right-wing extremism.

Topics that might be considered include, but are not limited to:

 Representations, constructions and contestations of ‘Germanness’/ ’Europeanness’ and ‘Others’

  • Racism, xenophobia and exclusion
  • Discourse and boundary drawing in right-wing movements and extremist groups in Germany
  • Representations and contestations of gender and religion in identity construction
  • Narratives, representations and negotiations of national identity in the media and on social media
  • The role of language and ‘taboo-breaking’
  • Experiences and resilience of ethnic minority groups and migrants
  • Theoretical concepts of nationalism
  • Explorations of migration, identity and extremism in literature, film, and art
  • Historical examples and/or change and continuity in representations of migration, identity and extremism over time
  • (Mis-)understandings of the past in contemporary extremism
  • Concepts and initiatives for improved integration and social cohesion

We invite proposals for papers of no more than 15 minutes. Researchers may choose to present an overview of their project as a whole or an aspect of it on which they would like feedback.

We hope to publish a report on the event, including a summary of the individual presentations, on the IGS website and H-Net.

The colloquium will start at 11:00 on Friday 15th March 2019 (registration from 10:30) and end by 18:00. A symposium dinner is planned for that evening.

One night’s accommodation, travel costs of up to £100, and dinner for paper-givers will be funded by the IGS.

Places for participants will be allocated on a competitive basis.

Abstracts of no more than 200 words and any queries should be submitted to the organisers –– by 14th January 2019.

Dr Charlotte Galpin
Deputy Director of the Institute for German Studies
University of Birmingham


Anja Benedikt
Doctoral Researcher
Institute for German Studies
University of Birmingham