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Lecturers of the University of Cologne, partner universities worldwide and external experts contributed to the academic program.The topics of our Cologne Summer School on Migration 2023 covered a broad range of disciplines from Law, Economics, Politics, Social Sciences, the Humanities, and Arts and Culture.

Scroll through the page to find authentic lecturers' testimonials as well as the abstracts of all topics that the summer school covered.

The academic program of the summer school was organized according to 4 research fields:

Field 1: Methodological & Ethical Aspects in Migration Research
Field 2: Discipline-specific Theoretical & Historical/Decolonial Aspects in Migration Research
Field 3: Patterns and Forms of Migration Research: Case Studies on Migration Directions
Field 4: Practical Approaches & Insights into Migration Work

The emphasis on the practical approaches took place predominantly in the second week during site visits and talks with experts about best practices. 

Prof. Dr. Michaela Pelican

University of Cologne, Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology


South-South / South-North Migration: Changing Trajectories and Migration Regimes

Shocking news headlines, such as the recent loss of hundreds of lives in the Mediterranean or the UK-Rwanda asylum seekers’ deal, shape public perception of migration as a problem and a formidable humanitarian and political challenge. While public imaginaries in Europe and North America generally foreground South-North migration, this trajectory only accounts for a small part of global mobility. That is, the majority of migration takes place within the Global South, both within and across continents. Similarly, much of migration theory is grounded in research conducted in the Global North, while limited attention is paid to alternative concepts and dynamics in the Global South. In this presentation, I will use examples from my own research on migration from Cameroon to the Gulf States and China to illustrate African migrants’ changing trajectories and imaginaries. I will also draw attention to different migration regimes and the ways they have transformed in recent years; thus, offering or closing off new opportunities for mobility in a highly unequal world.

Recommended readings:
Glick Schiller, N. and N. B. Salazar. (2013). Regimes of Mobility across the Globe. Journal of Ethnic and Migration. Studies 39(2):183-200.
Pelican, Michaela and Mahir Şaul (eds.). 2014. African Global Entrepreneurs, Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development (UAS) 43: 1,2,3.


Researching South-South Migration: Qualitative Methods and Ethical Challenges

In this workshop, we will jointly reflect on qualitative methods of researching migration and the practical and ethical challenges they may involve. Based on my research on South-South migration conducted since 2007, I will provide examples of multi-sited ethnography that follows the people, the thing, the metaphor or the story (Marcus 1995). We will also discuss artistic and collaborative methods and debate their advantages and shortcomings. Possible examples include the photo exhibition “Baohan Street: An African community in Guangzhou” co-curated with the Chinese photographer Li Dong; or the collaborative research project “Communication during and after Covid-19: (re)producing social inequalities and/or opportunities among African migrants in the United Arab Emirates and China” which involved members of the community under study in all stages of the research process. Finally, the workshop also aims to inspire critical reflections on the goals and formats of sharing migration-related research findings.

Sample materials:
Pelican, Michaela (ed.). 2014. BAOHAN Street: An African Community in Guangzhou. Documentary photographs by Li Dong. Kölner Arbeitspapiere zur Ethnologie 4. Institut für Ethnologie, Universität zu Köln. https://kups.ub.uni-koeln.de/5782/
Special project “Communication during and after Covid-19: (re)producing social inequalities and/or opportunities among African migrants in the United Arab Emirates and China” https://socialinequalities.uni-koeln.de/projects/special-project-communication-during-and-after-covid-19

Recommended reading:
Marcus, George. 1995. Ethnography in/of the World System: The Emergence of Multi-Sited Ethnography. Annual Review of Anthropology 24:95-117.


Prof. Dr. Clemens Kroneberg

University of Cologne, Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences

Institute of Sociology and Social Psychology (ISS)

Ethnic diversity and social cohesion

Due to immigration and globalization, many societies around the world are characterized by high levels of ethnic diversity. In sociology, several approaches have been developed to describe the realities of ethnically diverse societies. In our seminar, we will discuss concepts such as assimilation, multiculturalism, racism, or colorblindness, as well as their implications for political processes of recognition and redistribution. We will also ask how to promote social cohesion in multiethnic societies and confront our own experiences and ideas with evidence from the social sciences.

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wessels

University of Cologne, Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences

Jean Monnet Chair for European Politics, Director of the Centre for Turkey and European Union Studies CETEUS) at the University of Cologne

The Migration Policies of the European Union - a Key though Controversial Contribution

To understand  how the  European countries try to face the challenges of several and different forms of migration, we need to analyse the respective policies of the European Union (EU). A special focus will be on the way how the Heads of State or Government  of the EU member state (i.e. the national leaders) deal with the considerable migration problems on the agenda via their institution, the European Council. Such a view will help us to understand the need for and the constraints of EU wide measures for the sake of the member states.  

Dr. Bhanubhatra Kaan Jittiang

Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, Faculty of Political Science, Department of International Relations & Director of the M.A. and Ph.D. Program in International Development Studies (MAIDS-GRID)

Urban Space and Refugee Asylum: Looking from Non-Signatory Countries

The lack of legal status is the primary challenge for more than thousands of refugees and asylum seekers seeking refuge in many places around the globe. In some countries, a refugee is not a legal category since those states are non-signatory states of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. Although UNHCR may have screened and granted refugee status, several governments have never recognized such legal recognition. They are concerned that granting refugee status will become a pull factor attracting new waves of the forcibly displaced. Therefore, refugees and asylum seekers in those countries have constantly feared arrest, detention, and deportation. The illegality of their existence also prevents them from working legally and having access to social services. Despite encountering multiple challenges, refugees and asylum seekers continue to be present and alive in a non-signatory state—for both transit and long-term asylum.
This lecture explores the nexus between city and refugee asylum. It explains how the city’s three forms of power, including material, discursive, and environmental power, helped make refugee asylum possible by providing them with three essential capacities for city navigation. First, material capacity refers to the capability to afford tangible material benefits for themselves and their family through employment and access to services and support. The second is discursive capacity, which is the capacity to discursively construct a different identity other than being a refugee and to reclassify oneself to fit different social contexts for survival purposes. Lastly, environmental capacity is the capacity to leverage the crowdedness and the anonymity of people in the city to live in the shadow providing an additional shield for their survival in a non-signatory state.

Prof. Dr. Naruemon Thabchumpon

Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, Faculty of Political Science

Deputy Director for Research Affairs at the Institute of Asian Studies & Director of the Center of Excellence of the Asian Research Center for Migration

Cross-border Migration, Refugee People and Geo-Politics in Ethnic Controlled Areas

The study will look at the relationship between Cross-border Migration, Geo-politics and the redistribution of resources in ethnic controlled areas. It aims to undertake transdisciplinary implementation involving refugees and migrant workers originally from ethnic areas in Thailand’s neighboring countries in the Mekong region. The research site will be undertaken along the border locations between Thailand and Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. The study analyzes contested processes of conflict transformation across the whole of the countries in the Mekong region. It will examine the economic and political refugee migrants in Thailand and their difficulty to stay as diaspora group while trying to continue their democratic struggles for their home country.

Throughout the study, this research aims to understand how different actors, especially migrant people perceive, practice and perform their roles in democracy and development from afar and the consequences of this for state and non-state actors of Thailand.  Throughout the research, the paper tries to apply transdisciplinary research to conduct field study and reconfigure the relationship among different actors over the contestation of knowledge and development discourse that represent both new opportunities and challenges for this region.

Keywords: Democratization, Politics of Migration and Geo-politics in Mekong countries and Thailand

Karim Zafer M.A.

University of Cologne, Director of Cairo Office

University of Cologne, Department for Social and Cultural Anthropology

Native Migrant Divide and Migrants Categorization

Categorizing people in a given society or group of people is inevitable for bureaucratic practices and procedures in modern nation-states. For instance, creating different categories of migrants is important for all actors including state and non-state actors as well as for migrants themselves. Yet, it is crucial to examine the impacts of such bureaucratic categorization on the lives and identities of those falling under a certain category. If bureaucratic categories are not neutral, that is politicized, they would negatively affect individuals and migrant groups. Negative impacts could occur through stigmatization, discrimination, racism and by denying them their basic human rights. Categorizing and accusing migrants for being illegal, smuggled, and or bogus undeserving refugees are amongst many other fabricated allegations widely used in the public and political discourses against people on the move. Hence, false dichotomies, which do not reflect the lived experiences of people on the move, are created. Categories are then transformed into labels loaded with stereotypes and stigmatization. Critical migration scholars warn therefore from falling into the trap of uncritically using and reproducing such legal and politicized categories and labels, and are in favor of developing analytical categories even if they do not fit into the legal ones. This will be the aim of this session. We will critically discuss the different categorization of migrants from early 19th century until our day. To do so, our critical discussion will start by shedding light on the role of imperialism and colonialism in creating the Native-Migrant-Divide. A divide or more precisely a definition that helped the imperial states to rule over their subjects and which still helps many modern nation-states and groups denying migrants a better life and future.

Anna Börger

Immigration Lawyer, Alumna of University of Cologne, Academy for European Human Rights Protection

Seeking Asylum in Europe – A human rights perspective

Migrants are entitled to human rights when they seek asylum in Europe. This seminar sheds light on these rights by following a migrant on his way from his home state to his destination state. We will look at human rights applicable before and after the migrant has reached the external borders of the European Union (EU). Certain rights then apply in the so-called Dublin-III regulation proceedings, in the process of which the EU member state responsible for the migrant’s asylum claim is identified. Once the migrant has reached his destination state, his asylum claim will be processed. When can someone get refugee status and what other status do exist? What about family reunification? What happens to unsuccessful applicants for international protection? Migrants face various legal hurdles in European states every day. The seminar will take a critical perspective on current state practices and draw special attention to the basic rights of migrants seeking asylum in Europe.

Prof. Dr. Marianne Bechhaus-Gerst

University of Cologne, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Institute for African Studies

Be(com)ing German. Colonial Migrants in Germany between Resistance and Assimilation

Following the “acquisition” of four colonies in Africa by the German Empire in the 1880s migration of primarily young men to Germany intensified. Although migration of “colonial subjects” was expressly not wanted or encouraged, a small African diaspora developed especially in Hamburg and Berlin. Multiple factors brought these Africans to Germany, but whether they stayed permanently – married and started families – or only temporarily: The questions how to survive in a racist – colonial – society, how to maintain agency, whether to resist or assimilate and, finally, what it takes to be(come) German affected all of them.

Elizaveta Khan & Team

Executive Director of Integrationshaus e.V. 

We will visit the In-Haus, a non-profit NGO situated in the lively neighbourhood of Kalk, and talk to Elizaveta Khan and her team about their social and political work with migrants and cultural initiatives in Cologne.

Chris Melzer

Senior External Relations Officer of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) based in Berlin, Germany

The Humanitarian Disaster of our Time: Why is the Number of Refugees Growing?

How many refugees are there on our earth? From where are they fleeing? And from what? From war and human rights violations? Or from hunger, drought and the consequences of climate change? And what exactly is that, “a refugee”? We want to discuss these and other questions with Chris Melzer, German press spokesperson of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR.

Fulden Eskidelvan
Project Manager at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

Alumna of the University of Cologne, Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences

When policy meets practice: shaping human-centered migration

Migration is a global phenomenon as old as human history and remains one of the most contested policy areas today. As humans move in search of better life, they impact societies and economies and make migration a topic of not only national but worldwide relevance. Hence, it does not come as a surprise that institutions engaged in international cooperation approach migration in its transnational and multifaceted complexity.

To that end, the workshop “When policy meets practice: shaping human-centered migration” will provide a space to reflect on how German international cooperation is operating in this realm. Further, the session will draw upon international agreements on migration and discuss how these “big international ideas” are translated into operative measures that meet both country-specific necessities and see humans at the core.

Serge Palasie

University of Cologne Alumnus, One World (NGO), Speaker for Development Policy Making with Focus on the African continent

(Forced) Migration as Colonial Heritage?

If we take a look on the public discourse concerning push factors for migration including forced migration in countries of the so called Global South, a huge number of politicians, representants of the media and in consequence of the population in the Global North itself frequently ignore that one cannot really understand this phenomen without adequadly taking into account the role of colonial history. No matter if we talk about people who fled persecution in the sense of the Geneva Refugee Convention, about (civil) wars, governance issues or about the so called economic or climate driven migration – all of these reasons are more or less linked to a global political and economic system that has been created by force. If we talk about fighting reasons of forced migration without realizing that this also means fighting global inequalities (SDG 10), it won´t be probable that migration from the Global South to the North will come to an end soon. What need to be done if we really want to resolve this problem?

Stawrula Panagiotaki, Dramaturg at Schauspiel Köln (Cologne Theater)

Since the 2016/17 season, Stawrula Panagiotaki is engaged as a dramaturg at Schauspiel Köln. We will have the opportunity to talk with her about and gain insights into the production EXILE, directed by Nuran David Calis.


How biographical stories about flight become a play for the theater

"What is he doing here in Germany, why isn't he fighting in his country?" 

How do you tell about war on the theater stage? What personal stories do people bring with them? What does it mean to live in exile? 
The play developed by Nuran David Calis and the Cologne Schauspiel-Ensemble tells in a sensitive way what it means for people to have to leave their country. 
The lecture will focus on how political content finds its way onto the theater stage, how (autobiographical) stage texts are created, and what aesthetic forms can be found for the theater. 

Documentation Centre and Museum of Migration in Germany - DOMiD

DOMiD is home to Germany's largest collection of objects and testimonies about the diverse history of migration in Germany. The ongoing collection grew out of civil society. It currently comprises more than 150,000 social, cultural and everyday historical testimonies.

DOMiD’s goal since its foundation was to build a museum where migration is conveyed as a normal case. This plan is now about to come to life. In 2019 the federal government and the state of NRW included funds for the "House of Immigration Society" in their budgets. The museum is expected to open in 2027.

We will visit the archive of DOMiD situated in the lively neighbourhood of Ehrenfeld.

Sibel Schmidt, Ariane Elshof from International Affairs of University of Cologne & Lukas Granrath from Refugee Law Clinic Cologne

Dealing with Forced Migration on an Institutional Level

This session was conducted in the format of a world cafe/workshop with our colleagues from Division International Affairs Sibel Schmidt and Ariane Elshof who manage projects related to refugee student and scholar support. They provided insights into their practical work and frameworks in which forced migration is addressed on a university level. Joined by Lukas Granrath - a representative of the Refugee Law Clinic - a charitable organization, founded by law students from Cologne to support immigrants, especially refugees and asylum seekers, the participants had the chance to discuss about best practices and concepts about proactively engaging with forced migration through pro bono project work.

Networking Event with Arina Deriugina

Cologne Summer School Alumna from 2022 (onsite) and 2021 (online), Bielefeld University, Faculty of Sociology, Department of Social Structure and Social Inequality

Topic 1: How to Survive as a Student in Germany: "No Scholarship" Edition.

Topic 2: Challenges that Migrants face in Germany: Insights on Governmental Social Work.

I am a sociology master student in Bielefeld University, coming from Saint-Petersburg, Russia. It has been more than 3 years since I moved to Europe for studies and during this time I faced many challenges on my path. Currently I receive a DAAD full-funded scholarship but things were not that smooth all the time and I would like to share with you all ups and downs so you can do better!

During the first part of the session we will discuss challenges and prejudices about life as a student in German University, is it really possible to have a happy life without a scholarship? Are there any good Universities except Berlin? Can I manage without wealthy parents, sponsoring my life in Germany? (spoiler: yes, yes and yes). I will share lifehacks on how to finance yourself during Master, PhD studies, how to ease the visa challenges and make the most of your studies here. I have been participating in exchange semesters in Germany since 2019-2020, studying in Germany as a Master student for over a year and have full financial support with DAAD for my degree. Additionally, I have worked for over a year with an international company focusing on assisting students from all over the world ( I was primarily helping students from India, Africa, Ukraine, Russia) to prepare themselves for a degree abroad, choose right programs and financial support, find student-friednly work and increase their chances to get accepted, improve profile, prepare the documents, pass tests.

During the second part of our session we will dive deeper into the processes that migrants, particularly refugees from Ukraine, face in Germany. I have been working with Ukrainian refugees for over a year now, and have seen the development of policies in NRW (North-Rhine Westfalia) and Germany in general since the first day of war in 2022. I have worked with schools, orphan houses, social workers, Jugendamt (Youth Welfare Office), translated in shelters for Ukrainians and Romas there, and other structures in Rathaus. Moreover, I am currently working at the position in the International office in Bielefeld university and it has been almost a year since we offer special integration and language courses for prospective ukrainian students that will continue their studies in Bielefeld University.

Project Team

Dr. Sabine Päsler-Ehlen (pronouns she/her)
Project Coordinator Cologne Summer Schools


Project Staff Cologne Summer Schools

Telefon +49-221-470 1394
E-Mail CologneSummerSchools[at]verw.uni-koeln.de