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Figures and Negotiations of Migration in Saxony since 1989/90

Researcher: Nick Wetschel

By the end of September 1991, the German weekly news magazine “Der Spiegel” issued an article headlined by a quote of asylum seekers who “prefer dying instead of going to Saxony”. In a 1993 brochure the state government invited foreign nationals (especially former contract workers) into a “new Heimat”. For the early 1990’s, these two topoi allow for a simplified understanding of the way ‘Saxony’ was interpreted as a place of (in-)voluntary destination for differently motivated migrations. In the way they represent radically different ideas about the place of migrants in society, they also frame the discursive field of research: How was the communicative process of self-conception as an immigration society negotiated in local arenas? Which actors brought what kinds of (narrative) figures into play or challenged them?

The project aims at establishing a broader understanding of (East-)Germany’s history of migration in times of post-socialist transformation. It investigates into continued and new ways to conceptualize and live migration, individually and socially. Migrants and migrant’s organizations, (local) politics and administration alongside other discursive actors are considered as taking part in this at times conflictive or cooperative, at times ignorant or coexistent process of constructing meaning about migration.

The project is linked with the Dresden University Center for Integration Studies Citizen Science project “Ostdeutsche Migrationsgesellschaft selbst erzählen: Bürgerschaftliche Geschichtswerkstätten als Produktionsorte für Stadtgeschichten (MigOst)”.