Between Prefigurative Politics and Collaborative Governance

Vernacular Humanitarianism in the Migration Movements of 2015

in Ethnologia Europaea
Ove Sutter University of Bonn

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The article discusses the civic engagement of humanitarian assistance to refugees during the migration movements of 2015. Drawing on an ethnographic case study of an event of voluntary aid for refugees, I examine how the activities can be understood as a civil society intervention in the political event of “the long summer of migration.” I argue that the voluntary refugee relief of 2015 should be conceived as “vernacular humanitarianism.” As such, the participants carried out activities of self-organized prefigurative politics, in which they experimented with the materialization and realization of their ideas about social relationships, community and the treatment of refugees, while they were simultaneously entangled in arrangements of collaborative governance, where they contributed to the local authorities’ migration management.

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