Junge DGAP Workshop & Discussion

Couldn’t They Be Allies? Political Diasporas and German Foreign/Cultural Policy

Couldn’t They Be Allies? Political Diasporas and German Foreign/Cultural Policy

December 10, 2019 / 7:00–9:00 pm / Grünes Salon, Volksbühne, Linienstraße 227, 10178 Berlin 

It is common knowledge that governmental politics and civil society activism work according to differing mechanisms. Yet in our current moment – when human rights and the rule of law are globally under attack – shouldn’t liberal-democratic governments such as Germany’s ally themselves with democratic activists who have fled dictatorship and authoritarianism?

In general, political diasporas have not had much affect on political realities in their home countries, even if their relationship to political institutions is based upon a mutually stated commitment to human rights and liberty. There are, however, multiple examples in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany, in which exiled political groups worked together with German authorities, parties, and unions, in order to achieve common cultural and foreign policy goals. Historian Alexander Clarkson (King’s College London) will present some of these cases and explore the following questions: Which forms did these collaborations take, and what favored or hindered them? When were there hostilities between diasporic groups and German cultural and foreign policy authorities, and why? And what do these examples imply for the ways in which cooperation is shaped, framed, and enacted? 

At the conclusion of Clarkson’s talk, a panel of experts and diaspora artists and activists will not only discuss what may be learned from a historical perspective, but also whether political diasporas may be in a better position to collaborate with German foreign policymakers today.

Dr. Alexander Clarkson has been a professor in the German department at King’s College London since 2007. His family background has made him part of the Ukrainian-in-Canada and British-in-Germany diasporas. Clarkson’s book on the history of political diasporas and German politics, Fragmented Fatherland: Immigration and Cold War Conflict in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1945–1980, was published by Berghahn Books in 2013. 

Dr. Najat Abdulhaq is a Palestinian scholar based in Berlin. Her book, Jewish and Greek Communities in Egypt: Entrepreneurship and Business before Nasser, was published by I.B. Tauris in 2016. In addition to her academic work, Abdulhaq has worked as a freelance consultant on the Middle East for various media outlets. Since 2018, she is the monitoring and evaluation officer for the Middle East and North Africa at International Media Support, the renowned Danish NGO.

Kristin Helberg is a German journalist and, as an expert on Syria, one of the most in-demand analysts and commentators on the country’s conflict. Her most recent book, the widely-acclaimed Der Syrien-Krieg: Lösung eines Weltkonflikts, was published by Verlag Herder in 2018. 

Christin Lüttich works for Adopt a Revolution, an independent initiative that supports civil society structures against dictatorship and religious fanaticism in Syria. She studied political science and has lived and worked in Syria and Lebanon.

Caroline Assad, managing director of WIR MACHEN DAS, a non-profit organization at the interface of civil society, journalism, literature, media, and migration, is currently completing a research project on African policy issues at the Young German Council on Foreign Relations. After having studied educational sciences, she had previously worked on projects in the fields of culture, education, and international cooperation in various Arab and European cities.

10 December 2019
Event location

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik e.V.
Rauchstraße 17/18
10787 Berlin

Young DGAP Event