Based on key concepts of memory studies, this article investigates how immigration is remembered in two different societies: the United Kingdom and Germany. Starting from the assumption that social remembering has the potential to encourage the integration of migrants, we analyze in several case studies how civil society organizations and government actors remember historical immigration processes and how the immigrant past is reflected in popular culture. Our analysis shows that both countries have several factors in common with regard to the role of immigration in collective memory. A common feature is the marginal status accorded to migration and, when it is remembered, the highly restricted role offered to immigrants. However, our studies also reveal that memory can become an important mode for the integration of migrants if it is used as a form of political activism and if organizations proactively use the past to make demands for the incorporation of immigrants.
Barbara Laubenthal is a daad Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. She previously served as a Lecturer and Interim Professor of Public Administration in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Konstanz and as a Visiting Professor of Migration and Integration at the University of Tübingen. Her main research fields are immigration in Germany and Europe, social memory, and reparation politics.
Kevin Myers joined the University of Birmingham in 2000. He is the Director of Education in the School of Education and teaches social history and education in the BA (Hons) Education program. His research fields include the history of education, the history and sociology of childhood, and history and heritage.