How Refugees Live in Germany and Australia: Biographical Reconstructions between Insecurity and Trauma

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Michaela KOETTIG, Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, Germany
In view of the fact that in global terms there are over 65 million refugees, the topics of migration and asylum are gaining in importance. Immigration countries – especially in the ‘global West’ – often have a negative attitude to immigration, trying to keep numbers as low as possible by guarding their borders and developing strict asylum procedures.

My current research project is concerned with examining the asylum system and asylum procedures in two of these ‘Western’ host countries: Germany and Australia. The aim of the research is to show the effects of these two systems on refugees. By reconstructing the biographies of asylum seekers, I want to find out how people from different social and national backgrounds and with very diverse lived realities are able to adapt to life in their host country, and what opportunities and restrictions result from the immigration and integration systems of that country. I am interested in why people leave their country of origin, their experiences during their migration, and their settlement process. In Germany, I am recording the biographies of people who have arrived in the country recently, and following up their experiences in Germany in a long-term study (10-12 years). In Australia, by contrast, I record the biographies of people who have already lived in Australia for some years, and who can give me a retrospective account of what they have experienced in their host country.

My paper is focused on this research. On the basis of the experiences of the refugees/asylum seekers, I will briefly discuss the differences between the two immigration systems, and what kind of effects and impacts they have on the lives of people. Specifically, I will show differences in coping with lived-through traumas, and how people talk about these at the time of the interview.