Second Reading Responses 7/5

Arrival City

1. One point that stood out to me was that “Muslim” behavior as Europeans see it are created by “Western-manufactured Islamic conservatism” (231). The occurrences of Europeans calling Muslims (as a very large, diverse group) as some foreign group highlight the depth of the “otherness” that is often cast on them. Many Europeans do not recognize the full effect that their own government policies have on the populations living here, and give full responsibility of the others’ conditions on the others themselves. When cities accept their role as an arrival city, then this is an indicator that some responsibility has been taken by the European nations. As we have learned, Germany began to accept more responsibility in 2015 with the refugee crisis, but received enough pushback to slow or reverse the change.

2. I wonder if the arrival city situation can realistically center around citizenship and physical possibilities within the city. At some points, the author Doug Saunders presents those two pieces as what was missing and what came together in Parla, Spain. All in all, he includes other points, but I do wonder if there are other major components of successful arrival cities that could have been included or at least mentioned. As I discussed with Manuela, there sometimes isn’t a conclusion, and it seems that he gets close to having a conclusion that is set in stone of what needs to happen for success in an arrival city. The use of individual stories and cities contribute to a nuanced approach to the subject because the author can focus on clarifying specific situations and strategically choose when to bring the specifics into a more general frame of mind. The approach allows us to learn from previous experiences while avoiding most of the reduction of these situations into generalities.

3. I appreciate the idea of learning from previous situations as they did in Parla, Spain and thus creating a better experience for immigration to the area. Half of my question is what is making it difficult to improve the situation in other countries once the less-than-ideal policies and infrastructure is put in place. The other half is if there is something else different about Spain compared to Germany and France as countries or societies that facilitated this thoughtful arrival-city recognition that could be brought to other countries.

The Figure of the Migrant

1. In contrast to our selection from Arrival Cities, our selection from The Figure of the Migrant does not go into details about particular case studies. This makes sense as the introductions and conclusions of a philosophical book, but much is left to the interpretation of the reader looking at this section in isolation. There are relatively few examples and even within those examples, the author does not reach specific details. This is part of building a framework for future work to be built off of. However, for as interesting as philosophy is, it is very informative to have real-life details of situations. That is why each of our talks during this program, especially the one with Mohammed, was so engaging and insightful for me. I was hearing about experiences of the speaker through which we could discuss larger issues such as the role of democracy. I wonder where philosophy plays a role in dealing with the current refugee crisis.

2. I am wondering why the “expulsion” theory was presented alongside the alternative, grassroots theories in this book. If it is to promote a compromise and a broader level of discourse, I think it is an interesting idea. It welcomes both academics and activists to the table to discuss this topic and presents a range of ideas side-by-side to make clear comparisons possible. Throughout our time with guest speakers, interviews and experiences in the community, and learning at community partners, each person has a great and unique perspective, but as often happens most are slightly disconnected from all the rest because of each person’s different information and priorities. Perhaps this strategy, in a publication or at a physical event like our presentations, is an effective way to bring different priorities together to create well-rounded discourse. For example, it could bring together the educational priorities of the school social workers and the priorities of non-white academic discourse in Germany of Dr. El-Tayib. The individual stories and memories of each person represented in the publication or event would stand together to hopefully form a more accepting narrative as well.

3. This idea of looking at movement instead of stasis is a new concept for me. I think this connects to the popular saying that it’s not about the destination but about the journey because in the case of a contemporary migrant the destination has not been reached yet. Thus, the focus on the journey provides more insight into their lives and allows for a focus on their goals instead of what they are lacking.