The Presence of Collective Violence, or: How Do Syrian Refugees Re-Construct Their Biographies within the Figurations of Illegalized Migration from a (civil) War?

Monday, 16 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Arne WORM, University of Goettingen, Germany, University of Goettingen, Center of Methods in Social Sciences, Germany
In this paper I will present empirical findings from my PhD project on changing constructions of belonging and processes of (re-)grouping within the biographies of Syrian refugees, which forms part of the bigger DFG-funded research project “The Social Construction of Border Zones”. In the field of sociology of violence/violent conflicts, and in migration research, changes in the social order and in relations between groupings, as well as transformations of images of the self, group belonging and perspectives on other groupings on different levels (e.g. gender, religion, ethnicity, class) have long been important topics. Yet, these two perspectives have rarely been combined.

Based on biographical case reconstructions from our fieldwork in the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa, and drawing on considerations of the sociology of violence and figurational sociology, I will present different courses of illegalized migration against the background of an ongoing (civil) war. I will highlight that specific experiences of (collective and individual) violence in the past and the present play a crucial role in the processes of biographical re-orientation of my interviewees and thereby the dynamics of (forced) migration. To understand these courses, I will argue that we have to pay attention to the complex interrelation between life courses and the collective and family histories of refugees, as well as their figurations with other groupings before, during and after their migration projects from a (civil) war.