Migration: Dynamics and Controversies in Europe and Berlin

Freie Universität Berlin

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Migration: Dynamics and Controversies in Europe and Berlin

  • Host University

    Freie Universität Berlin

  • Location

    Berlin, Germany

  • Area of Study

    Ethics, European Studies, German Culture, Human Rights, International Affairs, Sociology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    The European Union consists of pluralist and secular nation-states. This is official policy up to the highest levels of the EU-bureaucracy, in which “any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, color, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age, or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.” Although this is the norm, in the factual political as well as every-day power-relations between migrants and citizens, diverse forms of discrimination are steadily reproduced.

    In this course, we will encounter some of these differences between the normative and the factual as we pursue a series of analytical and learning objectives. We will focus on the often problematic and conflictual triangle of migration, ethnicity, and religion and ground our exploration of relevant theory in a discussion of empirical case-studies on the wider European as well as on the local Berlin levels. We will especially examine more closely the often highly emotionalized and mostly too simplistic public debates, which take place mostly around the categories of ethnicity and religion. Thereby we will also look at diverse forms of multimedia-based representations of the highly complex and multidimensional dynamics involved in migration processes, inasmuch as people do not come only as ethicized or religionized subjects. They come also as gendered and gendering persons. They come with their professions, their political viewpoints, their personal tastes, ethics and aesthetics, subcultures and complex worldviews – in other words, they come as individual persons, like anybody else. As a result, they actively contribute to the spatial, cultural, and social dynamics of migration, as well as to the controversies arising around them.

    Based on constructivist approaches drawn from cultural and social anthropology, we will establish the basics of transnational migration theory, focusing especially on the fields of critical migration and mobility research, postcolonial studies, globalization theory, the anthropology of the state, of religion and of multimedia representation. We will question different forms of mobility, while being aware of their historical contexts in the rise of the (European) nation-state, and will think about the consequences of the contemporary politics of fear and identity, played out along the lines of the production and reproduction of fixed cultural boundaries, which thereby foster xenophobic worldviews. In the case of populist discourse, we thus encounter political manifestations that directly threaten the ideals of the European Union. A final objective of the course will be to explore ways to think beyond the conventional framings of identity.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations