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Culture or Bureaucracy? Challenges in Syrian Refugees’ Initial Settlement in Germany

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In 2015 and 2016, Germany received more than 1.1 million asylum applications, some 425,000 of them from Syrians. Significant optimism accompanied the peak of this refugee inflow, with many Syrians praising Germany as a haven offering freedom and dignity, and many Germans taking pride in their country’s humanitarian stance and welcoming culture. Since then, various sources of anxiety have emerged, particularly those related to locals’ concerns about threats to their country’s national culture and newcomers’ frustrations stemming from their dealings with state bureaucracy. Building on field research in Germany in 2016 and 2017, this article offers a preliminary exploration of these issues, with a focus on refugees’ experience of bureaucracy in the realms as legal status, housing, and work. The article concludes with reflections on how juxtaposition of locals and newcomers’ respective concerns can highlight unexpected spaces for exchange and mutual understanding.

Affiliations: 1: Northwestern University, pearlman@northwestern.edu

10.1163/18763375-00903002
/content/journals/10.1163/18763375-00903002
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/content/journals/10.1163/18763375-00903002
2017-11-11
2018-10-22

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