Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Beverly M. Weber

Second Advisor

Deepti Misri

Third Advisor

Benjamin Teitelbaum

Fourth Advisor

Celeste Montoya

Fifth Advisor

Arne Höcker


In this dissertation, I analyze contemporary activist projects as they are or have been undertaken by refugees in Germany. In so doing, I have begun to build an archive of examples of a particular kind of activism that I conceptualize as refugee activism. I argue that as precariously-situated individuals in German society, refugees have entered a discursive space in which they are viewed as the newest iteration of racialized, non-German “others,” who live at the periphery of German society, and who are constructed as threats to the future of Germany and of Europe. As a result, refugee activists have used a variety of strategies to address the exclusionary means by which they and other “others” have been excluded from fully participating in German and European society in the 21st century. Through an analysis of refugee activist projects, including social media campaigns, public demonstrations, concerts, a tent action, a die-in, and more, I show how refugees expose the ways in which contemporary discourses, practices, and policies around race, immigration, and difference in Germany reify exclusionary understandings of who belongs and who does not, who is worthy of living, and even who can be considered human. Simultaneously, I argue, that through their activist projects, refugees in Germany have been able to build coalitions, declare new solidarities, and create communities, through which new ways of conceptualizing race, immigration, and difference in Germany and Europe have begun to take shape.