Producing deservingness, managing vulnerability – refugee representations of Hungarian migrants working in the German reception system
The talk focuses on Hungarians working or volunteering in German refugee reception organizations, and asks how refugee representations are interconnected with personal migration experience. The analysis is built upon 15 interviews carried out in 2017 with Hungarian teachers, social workers and community organizers active in the reception of refugees and asylum-seekers in Berlin and Munich.
The talk will show that the image of refugees that dominates the interviews is that of the economically deserving refugee who is hardworking and keen to acquire a proper education, employment and regularization in Germany. Discourses of vulnerability and of cultural difference appear to be subordinated to maintaining such representations of deservingness and performance. Identification with refugees and asylum seekers based on the perceived similarity of the struggle to achieve (economic, legal, and institutional) performance as migrants in German society becomes entangled with professional expectations in terms of the need to produce successfully compliant subjects.
Ildikó Zakariás (Zakarias.Ildiko@tk.mta.hu ) studied statistics and sociology at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary and at Université Paris 8, Paris, France. She obtained her PhD in sociology, Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary. She is currently research fellow at the Institute for Minority Studies, HAS Centre for Social Sciences. She recently took part in projects focusing on solidarity towards migrants and refugees in Hungary and among Hungarian migrants in Germany. Her main research areas are migration, ethnicity and nationalism, civil society and volunteering. Her dissertation has recently been published (in Hungarian) with the title Philanthropic Nation – Solidarity and Power in Helping Ethnic Hungarian Minorities (Budapest, Kalligram).