From October 3 to 8, the international and interdisciplinary Summer School of the Diaspora Studies Research Network took place.
The title of the Summer School was Life in Diaspora: Finding Home away from Home? The focus of the Summer School and its lectures and workshops was on how diaspora communities redefine and negotiate the concept of home and how scholarly questions can be answered through systematic and empirical approaches. The program was met with broad international interest and in advance we received 40 applications from scholars from 15 different countries indicating their interest in the program.
On Monday, October 3, the Summer School started after a welcome by Prof. Dr. Michael Wermke, an introduction to the background of the Summer School by Stefan van der Hoek and with a thematic warm-up by Franziska Sandkühler and Rawan Thaboub. This was followed by the workshop by Prof. Dr. Karen Lauterbach from the University of Copenhagen on the role of religion in the context of migration and displacement. Lauterbach presented her research material from her fieldwork in Rwanda and discussed the data with the participants.
In the late afternoon, Stefan van der Hoek moderated the panel discussion in which Prof. Dr. Xenia Zeiler (University of Helsinki), Nancy Alhachem (Max Weber Kolleg in Erfurt) and Jonas Pabst (YMCA University in Kassel) discussed the concept of diaspora in the different academic perspectives.
On Tuesday, the welcoming address by Prof. Dr. Joachim von Puttkamer (Profillinie Liberty) was followed by a workshop by Prof. Dr. David C. Lewis (Visiting Professor at Yunan University, China) on research methods on ethnic minorities. Drawing on his many years of experience as a field researcher in Central Asia, China, and Japan, Prof. Lewis was able to share his extensive experience of over 40 years of research with participants and discuss approaches.
This was followed on Wednesday by presentations of academic papers by Prof. Dr. Ayat J. Nashwan and Dr. Lina T. Alzouabi, in which Nashwan and Alzouabi presented research from refugee shelters in Jordan. Participants had the opportunity to discuss the findings with the authors and ask further questions.
This was followed on Thursday by the workshop of Hakob Matevosyan (Leibniz Institute) on his research on the Armenian diaspora in Hungary and Romania. The workshop allowed participants to learn about and discuss the concept of diaspora from different perspectives through interactive approaches.
Afterwards, Stefan van der Hoek discussed research approaches from their own empirical projects together with Zahra Naghshband (CERES, in Bochum) and Rawan Thaboub (Research Network Diaspora Studies).
This was followed on Friday by the Keynote Lecture by Prof. Dr. Zeynep Sezgin, in which she presented research on Muslim welfare organizations in Germany and during which the participants had the opportunity to ask questions about the research subject and approaches to the field.
Afterwards, the participants visited the exhibition on autonomous art in the late GDR together. Here, the Jenaer Hofvernissagen were considered as a possibility of artistic expression within a repressive regime and discussed with the exhibition staff. The exhibition impressively showed how border demarcations can simultaneously represent and be used as possibilities for shaping space. This became particularly clear through the works of the artist Gerd Wanderer.
The Friday afternoon was organized by Dr. Elif Sandal-Önal and Dr. Ekrem Düzen with a workshop on the topic 'You all belong here'. In the workshop, the identity of diaspora communities was discussed and debated using the example of the 'Turkish Diaspora'. Historical developments and discontinuities in the foreign policy of the Turkish state as well as the domestic policy of the Federal Republic of Germany were described, in which the members of the migrant:ing from Turkey position themselves.
On Saturday, a hike was held as a common conclusion, in which the members had the opportunity to hike over the Kernberge to the Fürstenbrunnen and to discuss the topics of the Summer School together and to get to know each other better personally.
The Summer School was a great benefit for the participants, and the Summer School program represented a well-rounded set of topics and research approaches that can be used to address the question Home away from home? from a variety of perspectives.
A publication of the workshop papers and research projects represented at the Summer School is currently being planned. We will be happy to keep you informed about further developments via the website of the research network.