Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Institut für Europäische Ethnologie

Labor Migration

Der Titel "Labor Migration" trifft in zweifacher Hinsicht zu: Wir wollen sowohl Migration selbst als ein Labor gesellschaftlicher, kultureller Entwicklungen zur Diskussion stellen, als auch die Migrationsforschung im Labor einer kritischen Prüfung und reflexiven Neuausrichtung unterziehen. Seit 2010 engagiert sich das Labor als Berliner Plattform in aktuellen Debatten einer kritischen Migrationsforschung, in enger Verbindung zu anderen Initiativen und Instituten, die ähnliche Fragestellungen verfolgen.

Das Labor Migration ist ein Hierarchien übergreifender, selbst gestalteter Diskussionsraum, der Forscher*innen (Studierende, Promovierende, Mitarbeitende und Lehrende) am Institut und interessierte 'Externe' entlang von inhaltlichem Engagement und Expertise verbindet.

Anregungen und neu hinzukommende Interessent*innen sind herzlich willkommen!


Um auf dem neuesten Stand zu bleiben, setzen Sie sich auf den E-Mail-Verteiler.



Reframing post- and decolonial knowledge production over the epistemic East / West divide CONTINUED - Europanization processes in academia and activism

The event was conceptualized and organized by Lucia Sunder-Plassmann, Victoria Kravtsova and Ronda Ramm


07.05.2021 10:00 - 13:00  on Zoom


In this session we focus on knowledge hierarchies between the Global East and West in the anthropological discipline, as well as within activist and academic circles engaged with queer feminism. To this end, there will be two short presentations on the current state of the Romanian ethnology & anthropology and of feminist activist-scholars in Central Asia within Europeanization dynamics. We will then enter into a joint discussion with scholars and activists from Romania, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.


We are going to discuss which theoretical frameworks can conceptualize the global entanglements of activist and academic work within the Global East. 

We will raise questions such as: Can critical Europeanization studies be a productive lens in order to engage in a decolonial knowledge production in those cases? How can Western scholars be engaged in the processes of decolonization? Is there still a Western ignorance of anthropological traditions in the Global East or are there already more spaces for reciprocity in interest? What structural changes are needed to counter inequality in knowledge production?


You can access the session via Zoom:


Altynay Kambekova will present her essay “Stuck between the past and the present: coloniality of queer activism in Central Asia” and reflect on the attachment of the discourses on queer feminism to both the USSR and the West and the subsequent challenges encountered by the Central Asian activists-scholars working in this field.


Altynay Kambekova  researches the topics of decoloniality, feminist movements in Central Asia and the interweaving of nationalism and gender issues in the region. You can contact Altynay by mail:


Lucia Sunder-Plassmann will present her master thesis on Europeanization processes within the Romanian ethnology and anthropology. As a snapshot of the Romanian disciplines, her research focuses on current strategies of negotiation and self-positioning of local scholars within Europeanized realities, as well as resulting dynamics among them that become visible.

You can read an abstract of the thesis here.

Lucia Sunder-Plassmann studied Social/Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology at the University of Leipzig and HU Berlin and is currently working on her PhD application. Her research interests include the question of how a dialogue or constructive collaboration at eye level between Western and Eastern ethnologies/anthropologies can come about, and what is necessary for a future (European) anthropological knowledge production in this sense.


Reframing post- and decolonial knowledge production over the epistemic East / West divide CONTINUED- Temporality, Decoloniality and Liminality

Labor Migration / Labor Kritische Europäisierungsforschung 

The event was conceptualized and organized by Magda Buchczyk, Katrin Kremmler, Soph Petzelberger and Ronda Ramm.

05.02.2021, 10:00 - 13:00 on Zoom 

In our last session, we began to explore the boundaries between the ‘East’ and ‘West’ in the geopolitics of labour and knowledge production, highlighting their hierarchical entanglements. We were interested in how Eastern European/Global East/post-socialist places emerge as epistemic spaces, discussing how the divisions come to matter and how they inflect decolonial practice. The last session pointed out that knowledge-making in the Global East is frequently imagined as “lagging behind” and “in a dire need to catch up” with the epistemic centre. This session explores how different actors, through mobility and creativity, work to negotiate and translate this positionality into artistic, scholarly and activist work. 

In the session, we focus on how the East /West divide and it’s boundaries are mediated and reworked through time and space. The session will include two case studies about Queer post-Soviet diaspora in Germany, and artistic work engaging with Kazakh memory discourses. Through these cases, we examine how temporality gets entangled with decoloniality “on the ground” both within the Global East and through mobilities. Our aim is to understand how this may help us reframe post/decolonial knowledge production by locating it betwixt and between the perceived epistemic divides. 

For the Zoom access send a mail to:


Queer post-Soviet migration in Germany – Geotemporal dance between (un)visibility and (self)exotisation

In 2010, Borchard argued that lesbian Russophone migrants in Germany were consolidating and building communities in very subtle ways. In comparison to other queer migrant communities, Russophone lesbians seemed to avoid political identities and gathered around club culture. Positive self-identifications and empowerment were possible almost only through non-verbal practices, ephemeral communities and practices of belonging. Ten years later we can speak not only about the evolving post-Soviet LGBTIQ+ migrant movement, but also about internal differences, hierarchies and multiple political self-identifications. These phenomena are still overlooked in queer diaspora and post-soviet migration research. How do post-Soviet queers perceive time and locality in diaspora? Which self-determined counter-discourses of queer post-Soviet diaspora exist outside of the dichotomy of invisibility and (self-)exotisation? What can we understand about German "Dominanzkultur" and post-Soviet queerness through the diasporic perspective? This talk reflects on the issue of spatiality and temporality of queer post-Soviet diaspora in Germany.

Masha Beketova has studied Slavic Languages, Cultures and Literatures and Gender studies at the HU Berlin and RSUH Moscow with focus on intersectionality, queer studies and contemporary Russian and Ukrainian literatures. Currently Masha is working on a PhD thesis “Enough is not enough! Queer post-soviet Migration in Germany between (Un)visibility and (Self)exotisation” in Slavic cultural studies and holds a Rosa-Luxemburg Scholarship. 


The Kazakh Famine of the 1930s in Contemporary and Public Art of Kazakhstan

In the early 2010s discussions around the topic of the Kazakh famine arose and intensified, with one side conceiving it as a simple tragedy and miscalculation and the other as a genocidal crime perpetrated by the Soviet state against the Kazakh nation. The government renewed famine monument production in the biggest cities of Kazakhstan with a goal to create a narrative that was meant to convey a certain way of remembrance that fit into the current political and cultural ideology of the ruling party. At the same time, another kind of art production has recently emerged in Kazakhstan that deals with memory production of the Kazakh famine. (Semi)independent contemporary artists, curators and galleries started to create deeper and more nuanced representations of this hard and complex traumatic episode in history. In my presentation I will shortly talk about those two kinds of memory production and will focus on the differences between the two. How do artistic, aesthetic and rhetorical approaches of the two discourses on the famine differ? Why do they use different kinds of visual language and how does different language produce different kinds of historiography?

Saltanat Shoshanova studied Art History in Saint-Petersburg and Vienna. She recently finished her master’s degree in Art History at the Free University Berlin. Her research interests focus on queer feminism and decolonilatity in the Post-Soviet countries.

* presentations of the session on the 22.01.2021 are accessible here*

Introduction presented by Magdalena Buchczyk.

Presentation of Victoria Kravtsova.

Presentation of Eszter Kováts.   

Reframing post- and decolonial knowledge production over the epistemic East / West divide - Critical perspectives from the Global East

The event was conceptualized and organized by Magda Buchczyk, Katrin Kremmler, Soph Petzelberger and Ronda Ramm.

Labor Migration / Labor Kritische Europäisierungsforschung 

22.01.2021, 10:00 - 13:00 on Zoom

In the current pandemic condition, we witness rapid reconfigurations as well as enduring and deepening inequalities with regard to the interrelations of human bodies, migration and marginalization. A glaring example of this came to the fore in German media discussions of exempting Eastern European workers from Corona travel restrictions in order to ensure cheap seasonal labor in the agricultural sector. Here as elsewhere, it became obvious that divisions between East and West still matter and continue to figure in various ways throughout Europe. 

In this session, we will explore an emerging field of critical inquiry into these East-West divisions through a focus on decolonial perspectives on knowledge production from areas that are differently called post-socialist, post-soviet or the Global East. Bringing together contributions of three scholars and activists whose academic work unfolds from within those areas, we hope to approach the inequalities between the West and the East in our academic settings and beyond. We are interested in how Eastern Europe emerges as an epistemic space entangled in structural inequalities and aim to follow the relational knots of power and knowledge at work in various instantiations of East-West divisions.

For the Zoom link, please write a mail to:


Dr Alexandra Urdea is currently working in the Behavioural Science Team for the Dept for Work and Pension of the UK government. Alex has completed a PhD in anthropology at Goldsmiths. This research examined how folk objects are mobilized in national ideologies, transmissions of personal and family memory, museological discourses, and artistic acts. Alex's postdoctoral research at the University of Sussex focused on Romanian migration in London which will be the focus of today's short input on the relations between mobilities, labour and ethnic and racial identities 

Victoria Kravtsova, MA in International Relations: "Between the posts, into the void: making sense of feminism and decolonialization in Bishkek and Almaty", Vica has been co-organizing the Feminist Translocalities / Feminist Utopias platform She holds a permanent position as project manager at Dekrabisten e.V. in Berlin and is currently working on her PhD application. Her main topics of research and activism are feminism and decolonization in the post-Soviet space.

Eszter Kováts, MA: "Symptomatic blind spots - Inequalities between Eastern and Western Europe in German academia". Eszter Kováts holds a BA in Sociology, an MA in French and German Studies and in Political Science. She is a PhD student in Political Science at ELTE University, Budapest. Until recently she was a guest researcher at the Humboldt University in Berlin. She was working in the Hungarian Office of the German political foundation Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) from 2009 till the end of 2019. From 2012 till 2019 she was responsible for the Foundation's gender program for East-Central Europe.

If you are interested to read introductory literature  before our session, you might have a look into the following two readings or the Feminist Utopias online platform. 

Kojanić, Ognjen (2020). Theory from the Peripheries: What Can the Anthropology of Postsocialism Offer to European Anthropology?. Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, 29(2), 49-66. Access here:

Tlostanova, Madina (2015): Can the post-Soviet think? On coloniality of knowledge, external imperial and double colonial difference. In: Intersections 1 (2). Access here:

Feminist Utopias platform: 


Through the Corona lens - Part 2: Racialized bodies

Friday, 18.12.2020, 10:00 - 13:00


Inputs provided by Celma Costa, Milena Bister, Katrin Kremmler

(How) Does the pandemic sharpen our understanding of racialized bodies?

Following up on our last lab meeting, at which we discussed issues of convivality and racism in the face of the Corona pandemic, we will explore this time relations between the pandemic, human bodies and racialization. We will bring theoretical insights on the property functions of whiteness (Cheryl Harris), the race multiple (Amade M'Charek) and European racial triangulation (Anca Parvulescu) in conversation with each other and with our understanding of the effects and implications of the pandemic.

In particular we are looking forward to explore the following questions:

The increasing politicization of COVID-19 masks in predominantly white populations in the global north gives us a chance to rethink race and racialism. Drawing from C.I. Harris' 1993 paper, "Whiteness as Property", we reflect: How has the pandemic triggered the fragilities of racialized identities?

Drawing on the material semiotic approach within science and technology studies makes us question and explore the naturecultures of the pandemic: What are bodies and race made to mean in practices related to the pandemic?

Eastern European seasonal workers, systematically exploited by the German agriculture and meat industries, found themselves in the position of „disposeable subjects" in the pandemic, undeserving of protection (Raluca Bejan). (How) Do today's structural inequalities within the EU relate to continental European imperial and post-imperial legacies and regional patterns of racialization?

please register and get the zoom link from Ronda Ramm:



Online event - Through the Corona lens: (How) Does the pandemia sharpen our view on racism and conviviality?

The current pandemic has caused different consequences at all social, economic and political levels, which has sharpened and brought to the surface different challenges, which critically need theoretical and empirical debate. Of particular interest to this session are the significance and challenges of conviviality and racism. Is the current crisis a shared experience and causes solidarity or does it promote the self-centeredness of privileged people? We frame the discussion from a macro-liminality approach as a space for transformation and change at a global level. For this session we will examine different case studies; disability community, health care system, refugee camps and spirituality.
We also question the role of the anthropologist, ethnographer and artist and how we face this new way of doing research at present. We opened the debate to reflect on new methodological and empirical forms for our field of research; digital ethnography / virtual fieldwork, dealing with social distance, auto-ethnographical research, structural difficulties of the research situation and transdiscipline methods. We intend for the first session of The Corona Lens to start the dialogue from our intimate and ethnographic perspective to open the discussion for everyone.


Join the discussion on 27th of November, 10-13h

In order to get the Zoom invitation for the event, please send a mail to: