Bard College Berlin Presents
Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Real Talk: Couldn't They Be Allies? Political Diasporas and German Foreign/Cultural Policy

Grüner Salon, Volksbühne, Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin

Panel Discussion with Najat Abdulhaq, Sohaib Alzoubi, Alexander Clarkson, Kristin Helberg a.o.
Moderation: Christin Lüttich

It is commonly known that governmental politics and civil society activism work according to differing mechanisms. And yet, in our current moment, when human rights and the rule of law are globally under attack, shouldn’t  liberal-democratic governments like Germany’s ally themselves with democratic activists who have fled dictatorship and authoritarianism? In fact, the relationship between political diasporas and the political institutions of their host countries has always been dependent on a wide range of factors, a mutually stated commitment to human rights and liberty being one of them, but not counting for much at all in the political reality.
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. The historian Alexander Clarkson (Kings’ College London) presents some of these cases, and asks from a historical perspective: Which forms did these collaborations take, and what favored or hindered them? What kind of hostilities were there between diasporic groups and German cultural and foreign policy authorities, when 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 lecture, a panel of experts and activists discuss what may be learned from the historical perspective, and whether political diasporas may be in a better position today to collaborate with German foreign policymakers.

7.00 pm: Welcome
7.15 pm: Alexander Clarkson: Political Diasporas and German Foreign/Cultural Policy from a Historical Perspective
7.35 pm: Panel discussion moderated by Christin Lüttich: Najat Abdulhaq, Sohaib Alzoubi, Alexander Clarkson, Andreas Görgen (tbc), Kristin Helberg

Najat Abdulhaq is a Palestinian scholar based in Berlin. Her book Jewish and Greek Communities in Egypt: Entrepreneurship and Business before Nasser was published in 2016. Besides her academic work, she has worked as a freelance consultant on the Middle East at different media outlets. Since December 2018 she is the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer in the MENA department at the renowned Danish NGO International Media Support.

Sohaib Alzoubi is a second-year student at Bard College Berlin and a civil society activist. He has worked with international NGOs on projects focused on Syria and has contributed to the establishment of a number of Syrian organizations (Olive Branch, Farah) and civil society coalitions (TAMAS, SHAML, Emergency Response Unit). He recently completed a research on governance systems in Syria in cooperation with the London School of Economics.

Alexander Clarkson is professor in the German Department at King’s College in London since 2007 and has a Ukrainian-in-Canada and British-in-Germany diaspora family background. He published a book on the history of political diasporas and German politics with Berghahn Books in 2013: Fragmented Fatherland. Immigration and Cold War Conflict in the Federal Republic of Germany 1945-1980

Kristin Helberg is a German journalist and expert on Syria, and one of the most prominent analysts and commentators on the conflict in Syria these days. Her most recent, widely acclaimed book is Der Syrien-Krieg: Lösung eines Weltkonflikts, 2018. Right now she investigates the new Syrian diaspora in Germany with a fellowship by the Mercator Foundation.

Christin Lüttich (moderator) studied political science and is also an expert on Syria. She works for “Adopt a Revolution”, an independent initiative that supports civil society structures against dictatorship and religious fanatism in Syria.

Date & time: Tuesday, December 10, 2019; from 7:00pm (doors open 6:30pm)
Venue: Grüner Salon, Volksbühne
Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin

Tickets: EUR 5 / 3; link to purchase>>

More information>>

A cooperation between Bard College Berlin, the Volksbühne Berlin and the German Council on Foreign Relations
Supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

Photo: Ludwig Binder: Studentenrevolte 1967/68, West-Berlin (via Wikimedia)

Real Talk is a new series at Grüner Salon that renders visible the political discourse of the young, resistance-oriented, democratic and activist Middle-Eastern diaspora in Berlin and provides space for its debates. This series aims to make evident the transnational realities and struggles between ‘here’ and ‘there’; ‘then’ and ‘now’, differences which Nationalism seeks to deny and erase, and which reveal themselves in the Diasporas. The talks serve as a platform to explore the diaspora’s own thoughts and reactions to these realities. The series in the Grüner Salon aims to create a space where Syrian, Afghan, Yemen, Iraqi and other experts in various discursive and artistic discipline can discuss and perform their work.

The series is a cooperation between Bard College Berlin, the Volksbühne Berlin and the German Council on Foreign Relations. It offers a mix of lectures, short-films, panel discussions and performances discussing themes such as the struggle for survival of the civil society in the Middle East; the re-claiming of political agency; disappeared and missing prisoners; the fate of women in the revolution; the political dimension of the (post-)traumatic; the experience of statelessness; and other topics related to the diaspora.

Past events in this series:

November 11, 2019, Volksbühne
Real Talk: Justice for Syria and Universal Jurisdiction in Germany - What Can be Done?

September 23, 2019, Volksbühne
Real Talk: On Changing Gender Relations in Yemen and Its European Diaspora

May 10, 2019, Volksbühne
Real Talk: On New Beginnings and Berlin’s Arab Exile Body

April 9, 2019, Volksbühne
Real Talk: Accommodating the Devil. The Syrian Civil Society’s Struggle for Survival

Contact information:  communications@berlin.bard.edu

Location: Grüner Salon, Volksbühne, Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin

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