Migration, Identity and Extremism in Germany

Muirhead Tower 715
Social Sciences
Friday 15th March 2019 (11:00-18:00)
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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.


Keynote Speech -  Escape into Authoritarianism? Tradition and present of authoritarian dynamics in Germany
Dr Oliver Decker (Leipzig University, Germany)

Dr Oliver Decker is the Director of the Centre of Excellence for Research into Right-wing Extremism and Democracy at the University of Leipzig. One of his two research areas comprises societal transformation processes with the focus on resentments, inner and inter-group processes and authoritarian dynamics. The purpose of his research is not only to document the spread of prejudices, but also the societal context of authoritarianism. Social conflicts are captured based on subjective reactions to currents issues, which also reveal historically overlapping trends and developments. The Leipzig Studies on authoritarian and right-wing extremist attitudes in Germany have been published since 2002 with the most recent one titled "Escape into Authoritarianism? Right-wing extremist dynamics in mainstream society". Right-wing extremist attitudes are measured along six dimensions including support for a right-wing authoritarian dictatorship, chauvinism, xenophobia, antisemitism, social Darwinism, and the relativisation of National Socialism.

Panel I – Extremism: Context and Determinants for the Support of Far-Right Movements and Parties

  • Sabrina Paillé (York University, CA) - Right-wing populism and anti-immigrant mobilization in Germany: the case of Pegida
  • Julian Göpffarth (LSE) - From GDR-resistance to New Right bohemia. Activating the socialist past in local elite responses to migrants and refugees in Dresden
  • Sophie Schmalenberger (University of Aarhus/Leicester) - Populism beyond “Never again!”: The AfD as memory Alternative for Germany

Panel II – Identity: Narrating/Constructing Identity in the Interface of Migration and Right-Wing Extremism

  • Dr Josie Graef (Hertie School) - Immigration, Violence and National Identity in Contemporary Germany: A New Dynamic?
  • Anja Benedikt (IGS) - Negotiating German national identity between an open, tolerant ‘Self’ and a xenophobic, extremist ‘Self’
  • Narku Laing (LMU München) - Racialized belonging in Germany
  • Irmtraud Eckart (Specialist Unit for the Prevention of religiously based Radicalization)  - Standing on their own or mutually influencing each other? Investigating the reciprocal correlation of extremist ideologies by shedding light on gender-related aspects

Panel III – Migrant/Refugee Integration: Impact of and Responses to Xenophobia and Exclusion

  • Katerina Glyniadaki (LSE) - Migrant Integration and Gender: Dealing with Divergent Perspectives at the Front-Lines
  • Bircan Ciytak (UoB) - Transnationalism: Diaspora Institutions and their impact on Migrants' belonging and identity
  • Aleksandra Koluvija (IGS) - Rethinking refugee integration in Germany- The use of a human rights-based approach