Focus "Urban regimes of (post-)migration"

The research projects within this focal point of our laboratory grasp the ambivalences of belonging and differential inclusion, the negotiations in institutions and networks of urban politics as well as the struggles of migration under these circumstances. We analyze techniques and strategies of urban governance and day-to-day practices in different (urban) political fields from the perspective of (post-)migration. This does not only mean, that we focus on the ambivalences of integration discourses and of migration related politics within cities. We also discuss the current fights of urban politics in general (for example the "right to the city"-movement) from the point of racism theory, in terms of social theory and from the perspective of migration. We understand urban politics and the practices of its different areas and fields to be a result of negotiations between different perspectives, practices and institutions of governance and of autonomous movements of migration. The notion of a regime conceptually summarizes these negotiations that consist of discourses, practices, norms and materialities in time and space and allows for all their disruptions, coincidences and synergies.

The access to rights, resources and spaces is not only negotiated at borders but also within territorial borders – in parliaments and at courts, in schools and job centers, in the media and in public debates, in the housing and the labour market. Huge parts of these social regulation systems unfold their effects in cities. For example where (post-)migrants belong is significantly negotiated on the level of towns and communes. It was there that in the post-war Germany of the 1960s the first fights of migration for work and inclusion took place, it was there that the end of the political mantra of Germany as a "non-immigration country" was slowly but successfully established, it was there that the end of exclusions and the rise of the integration paradigm could be observed since the 1990s. The latter comes along with new national-economic impositions and is recently transformed by the model of a "city of diversity". The urban space thus has become a central element of the integration discourse by being a problem indicator as well as a central part of solution strategies. According to a slogan often quoted "integration takes place locally" – a phrase that often indicates, that in problematic urban areas the problems of migrants especially unfold. The strategy of "demanding and encouraging" ("fordern und fördern"), which is coining the newest boost of the integration paradigm, for example is combining the formation of migrant (or "ethnic") economies with spatial control techniques as well as community-oriented responsibilization in urban districts with "specific development needs". They thus often enough lead to the precarity of the so called migrant economies. Other programmes prep students, parents and other so constructed "deficient" subjects in urban districts for their precarious future in the workfare-state.

Within these confusing processes, supposedly clear-cut, national categories of belonging (and exclusion) are more and more differentiated. That is, they are pluralized, localized and fragmented and these new, multi-layered categories can overlap – which brings along new forms of belonging, new and old forms of exclusion or something inbetween, that is able to keep the pressure to adapt or integrate up. The base of these politics and practices is often enough an economistic understanding of urban society and politics. As an effect differences are (in opposition to earlier epoques of the German migration regime) less often essentialized and problematized. But this is only true as long as they can be used positively for the city and urban development. Furthermore within these new developments, (racist) exclusions can be justified for the cause of new urban risk containment. According to that logic, for example, the supposedly infectious language deficiencies of children from migrant area, the supposedly radicalization of muslims in parallel societies or the risk to public order due to so called "poverty migration" of new EU-citizens have to be contained. Exclusions like these remobilize logics of non-belonging to categorize a racialized or culturalized population. Or they function as a credible threat of force and thus mobilize and responsibilize in an environment in which economization (of self, family or community) is the only possibility to integrate.

Research projects within this focus:

Jun Chu
Urban Citizenship in Transformation: Neoliberal Governmentalities and Contested Spaces of Migrant Workers in Hangzhou (China)
In her dissertation Jun Chu investigates how new social spaces of urban citizenship are emerging during the process of rural-urban-migration in contemporary China. Based on her case study of a migrant organisation in Hangzhou, she examines how neoliberal technologies of governing are exercised during the processes in which migrant workers are integrated into the new urban citizen differentially. Furthermore, she explores in what way this framework of inclusion and exclusion is constituted and negotiated through intertwined practices of neoliberal self-governing and evolved "socialist governing at distance" (Ong and Zhang 2008). She also analyzes how a "politics of scale" is exercised, while social spaces of urban citizenship are constantly being redefined by contesting and negotiating the scales of resources, repositioning the actors in the network of urban governance and transnational knowledge reproduction.

Isabel Dean
Good ʻeducation for everyoneʼ? Multiple discrimination in the transition to primary schools in Berlin
Isabel Dean analyses in her PhD-project negotiation processes and dynamics of discrimination in the transition to primary schools in Berlin. Kindergarten and primary schools are – in opposition to polynominal secondary schools – generally said to be educational stages, where all children learn together, that is to say independently of their diverse social and national, ethnical or cultural backgrounds. Nevertheless, there also occur racist and multiple discrimatory routines. Isabel Dean works in her analysis with the concept of the biopolitical assemblage (vgl. Pieper/Panagiotidis/Tsianos 2011). This approach allows her to capture and outline the linked forms of discrimation on different levels. She examines institutional and juridical arrangements and specifications, discursive demands for assimilation, market mechanisms in schooling in the sense of New Public Management, as well as gendered and racialized logics of help and dynamic processes of subjectivation between hegemonial adressing and the desire for different conditions.


  • Dean, Isabel (i. Ersch.): Effekte der (Nicht-)Thematisierung von Diskriminierung in nach ,Herkunft‘ getrennten Klassen. In: Susanne Bücken/Rayma P. Cadeau/Paul Mecheril/Bettina Schmidt/Noelia P. Streicher/Astride Velho: Migrationsgesellschaftliche Diskriminierungsverhältnisse als Gegenstand und strukturierende Größe in Bildungssettings.
  • Dean, Isabel (2018): Herstellung von Differenz und Diskriminierung in schulischen Zuordnungspraktiken zur Kategorie nichtdeutsche Herkunftssprache. In: Hanna H. Mai, Thorsten Merl, Maryam Mohseni (Hrsg.): Differenzverhältnisse in der Pädagogik: Machtkritische Perspektiven erziehungswissenschaftlicher Forschung und pädagogischer Praxis. Springer VS, S. 37–53.
  • Dean, Isabel (2017): Zugehörigkeitsdimensionen im racial neoliberalism. ,Gruppenanmeldungen‘ an innerstädtischen Grundschulen in Berlin. In: Johanna Rolshoven/Ingo Schneider (Hrsg.): Dimensionen des Politischen. Ansprüche und Herausforderungen der Empirischen Kulturwissenschaft. Neofelis-Verlag, S. 331–348.
  • Krüger, Jens Oliver/Roch, Anna/Dean, Isabel (2016): Mehrsprachigkeit als Argument? Die Verhandlung von Sprachbezügen im elterlichen Diskurs zur Grundschulwahl in Berlin. In: Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, Bd. 19, H. 4, S. 689–704, DOI: 10.1007/s11618-016-0713-3.
  • Roch, Anna/Breidenstein, Georg/Dean, Isabel (2016): Between ‘Enrichment’ and ‘Endangerment’: ‘Cultural Diversity’ and the Politics of Belonging in the Berlin School Choice Discourse, Ethnography and Education, DOI: 10.1080/17457823.2017.1283246.

    • Jana Pasch
      Jana Pasch researches in a comparative study of two inner city red light quarters - namely the Frankfurter Bahnhofsviertel and the Hamburger Reeperbahn - how these get revaluated and gentrified through the touristic element of image on the one hand and how on the other hand aspects of safety and cleanliness take influence on municipal responsibilities and public space. Especially Hamburg with the new Business Improvement District Reeperbahn has created a new type of economic access on public space. To do so, she connects materialistic theories of critical geography with ethnographic methods of fieldwork and analyses new forms of government and neoliberal utilisation strategies as well as discourses about "deviant, dangerous spaces". The conflicts, the resistances but also the disputed practices which come out of it, should take a central position.