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Patti Tamara Lenard and Laura Madokoro

Abstract

This introductory article lays out the objectives for this special issue of Migration and Society. In focusing on the stakes of sanctuary, both this introduction and the special issue concentrate on the ways sanctuary is inspired by, connected to, and symbolic of larger political and social processes. To see what is at stake, we outline some of the myriad possible meanings of sanctuary and examine the justifications given by the actors who offer and take sanctuary including notions of justice, solidarity, charity, and resistance. In highlighting what is at stake in specific acts and practices of sanctuary, we explore the benefits of pursuing a multidisciplinary examination of sanctuary, such as the one offered by the articles collected in this special issue.

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Sabina Barone and Mehdi Alioua

Abstract

In this interview with Sabina Barone, Mehdi Alioua—Sociology Professor at the Université Internationale de Rabat (International University of Rabat), Morocco—reflects on the transformations that Sub-Saharan African migration has brought to Moroccan society over the last two decades, in particular with reference to identity and the denominations of the foreign others, the internal and regional dynamics of (im)mobility, and the challenges to social coexistence and national migration policies. He proposes conceptual categories such as “transmigrant,” “migration by stages,” and “migratory crossroads” to capture the complexity of the mobile experiences unfolding in Morocco. Based on his trajectory of engaged scholarship in favor of migrants and refugees, he calls for a renewed South-South and North-South academic collaboration and cross-fertilization through small scale, bottom-up research made possible by friendship among scholars.

Open access

Michael Blake

Abstract

The increasing political salience of the sanctuary city has not yet been met with adequate philosophical examination of that concept. This article argues that there are at least two models of how the sanctuary city ought to be understood. The first model, the wholesale model, understands the sanctuary city as a standing check against federal overreach; the city ought to refuse to participate in deportation, even when the federal government is morally correct in how and when it deports. The second model, the piecemeal model, understands the sanctuary city instead as one particular site of resistance to particular forms of federal wrongdoing. This article does not seek to vindicate one model over the other, but argues that both models raise significant philosophical worries. More philosophical attention will help us understand both what the sanctuary city is and what might be said in its defense.

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Working against and with the State

From Sanctuary to Resettlement

Audrey Macklin

Abstract

A handful of Canadian church congregations provide sanctuary to failed asylum seekers. Many also participate in resettling refugees through a government program called private sponsorship. Both sanctuary and sponsorship arise as specific modes of hospitality in response to practices of exclusion and inclusion under national migration regimes. Sanctuary engages oppositional politics, whereby providers confront and challenge state authority to exclude. Refugee sponsorship embodies a form of collaborative politics, in which sponsorship groups partner with government in settlement and integration. I demonstrate how the state's perspective on asylum versus resettlement structures the relationship between citizen and state and between citizen and refugee. I also reveal that there is more collaboration in sanctuary and resistance in sponsorship than might be supposed.

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Brand of Brothers?

The Humboldt Forum and the Myths of Innocence

Jonathan Bach

Abstract

This article explores two modes of innocence at work in the making of the Humboldt Forum, Germany's biggest cultural project. It examines the legacy of the historical castle's “cabinet of curiosities” and the elevation of the Humboldt brothers, especially Alexander von Humboldt, to patron saints. Through these cases, the article identifies an exculpatory mode of innocence focused on the past and an anticipatory mode focused on the future. These modes, it argues, exemplify a tension between the imagination of history as a timeless realm that eschews redemption and as fungible materials that can be recombined to start anew and redeem the past.

Free access

Introduction

Innocence and the Politics of Memory

Jonathan Bach and Benjamin Nienass

Innocence is central to German memory politics; indeed, one can say that the German memory landscape is saturated with claims of innocence. The Great War is commonly portrayed as a loss of innocence, while the Nazis sought, in their way, to reclaim that innocence by proclaiming Germany as the innocent victim. After World War II, denazification and courts established administrative and legal boundaries within which claims of innocence could be formulated and adjudicated, while the “zero hour” and “economic miracle” established a basis for a different form of reclaiming innocence, one roundly critiqued by Theodor W. Adorno in his essay “What Does Coming to Terms with the Past Mean?” In the 1980s, Chancellor Helmut Kohl's famous pronouncement of the “grace [Gnade] of a late birth” (also translatable as “mercy,” “pardon,” or “blessing”) became the touchstone for a resurgence of war children's (Kriegskinder) memory. In the 1990s, the myth of the Wehrmacht as largely innocent of atrocities was publicly challenged. Today, right-wing critiques that cast Holocaust remembrance as a politics of shame draw upon tropes of innocence, of German air war victims and post-war generations, while right-wing images of migrants are cast in classic forms of threats to the purity of the “national body” (Volkskörper). The quickening pace of contemporary debates over Germany's colonial past pointedly questions the innocence of today's beneficiaries of colonialism, drawing attention to the borders and contours of implication.

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Florian Helfer

Abstract

This article examines the evolution of textbook representations of colonialism in two North Rhine-Westphalian textbook series for the Sekundarstufe II since 1989. On the one hand, the article shows that the developing post-colonial discourse in the German public debate had a particularly strong impact on schoolbooks in the mid-2000s. Textbooks reacted quickly to changes in the public debate and have increasingly attempted to deconstruct colonial narratives. However, implicit mental conceptions of African “backwardness” continue to exert some influence even on today's textbook generation. On the other hand, the article identifies the distortions that appear when colonialism as a global phenomenon is discussed within a curricular framework that focuses on national and European history. Because of the close curricular link between High Imperialism and World War I, textbooks strongly focus on the global rivalry of the European powers, whereas other aspects of colonialism come up short.

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Symbol of Reconciliation and Far-Right Stronghold?

PEGIDA, AfD, and Memory Culture in Dresden

Susanne Vees-Gulani

Abstract

In the eastern German city of Dresden, populist and nativist far-right groups, such as the homegrown pegida and the AfD, enjoy particularly robust support among the population, even though Dresden is presented as a symbol of peace and reconciliation. Many residents base their personal and social identity on Dresden's long-established narrative as an iconic baroque city that suffered an unparalleled loss and victimization in the 1945 Allied bombings, prior to its post-reunification revival. However, this narrative includes a blind spot about the Nazi context of the destruction, opening it up to various political appropriations from the gdr era to today. I suggest that the strength of the far right in Dresden is caused by a seamless linking of Dresden's perception as a victim due to cultural losses and the far right's fear of losing a unique German identity and homeland. As examples, I analyze discourse patterns of remembrance during the bombing anniversaries in 2015 and 2020.

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Tailoring Truth

Memory Construction and Whitewashing the Nazi Past from Below

Mikkel Dack

Abstract

As part of the post-war denazification campaign, as many as 20 million Germans were screened for employment by Allied armies. Applicants were ordered to fill out political questionnaires (Fragebögen) and allowed to justify their membership in Nazi organizations in appended statements. This mandatory act of self-reflection has led to the accumulation of a massive archival repository, likely the largest collection of autobiographical writings about the Third Reich. This article interprets individual and family stories recorded in denazification documents and provides insight into how Germans chose to remember and internalize the National Socialist years. The Fragebogen allowed and even encouraged millions of respondents to rewrite their personal histories and to construct whitewashed identities and accompanying narratives to secure employment. Germans embraced the unique opportunity to cast themselves as resisters and victims of the Nazi regime. These identities remained with them after the dissolution of the denazification project and were carried forward into the post-occupation period.

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Susanne Baackmann

Abstract

This article examines Gisela Elsner's 1989 novel Fliegeralarm in light of Helmut Kohl's politics of “normalization” and the Kriegskinder victimology that has recently gained traction. Fliegeralarm presents children as Hitler's willing executioners and categorically refutes the notion of “liberation” (from fascism) as justification for normalizing German national identity. The text questions the entire edifice upon which West and now united Germany's official memory culture is built. I argue that Elsner not only contests the concept of “historical innocence” but fundamentally refutes the possibility of an innocent historical subject position. Fliegeralarm provocatively casts remembering and childhood innocence as calculated performances that mirror the generational complicity of those born into a legacy of perpetration. It offers a prescient intervention in post-Wende discourses and rethinks childhood innocence along the lines of historical implication, that is, in dialectical tension with knowledge and denial, marked by the traffic between knowing and not knowing.