Table Topics: Fighting Complex Structures with New Concepts: How “Superdiversity” Can Help Us Understand Contemporary Migration Flows

Laurence Lessard-Phillips (photo: private)

Since Steven Vertovec coined the notion of „super-diversity“ in 2007, it has gained in popularity in academic and policy circles. Talking about super-diversity is meant to provide a better understanding of changes ongoing in Western societies, especially among their populations, who are evolving quickly under the effect of new migration dynamics. Urban populations, in particular, are becoming more heterogenous and the social relationships more unstable.

In the research community, the notion raises hopes but also critiques, and is still facing several challenges, both in terms of theory building and implementation of methods.
Outside academia, super-diversity attracted some politicians and public institutions, but has also been defined and interpreted in different ways.

Alexandre Tandé (photo: private)

Alexandre Tandé (photo: private)

At the table, Laurence Lessard-Phillips and Alexandre Tandé will explore topics closely related to super-diversity and are particularly interested in discussing the following (and related) issues:

  • Definition of the notion of „super-diversity“ and core ideas of Vertovec’s seminal article.
  • How is super-diversity approached in academic research?
  • What is new in this approach, in comparison to older ones?
  • What kind of questions and challenges are raised by the notion, for both researchers and policy-makers?


Table Topics: Facing Various Axes of Oppression – Individual, Political and Legal Approaches to „Intersectionality“ (Guilaine Kinouani)

Intersectionality: A Bridge between the Social and the Psychological?

Intersection (photo: private)

Intersection (photo: private)

There is a long history of social scientists rendering invisible social forces such as oppression, discrimination and marginalisation on the psychological functioning of people who are located at the bottom of social hierarchies. Similarly, it remains largely unclear how social mechanisms may shape psychological structures and relational processes. Clear relationships nevertheless exist between social devaluation, stigma, exclusion and poor psychological health. It is therefore not coincidental that ‚low rank‘ groups such as poor people, people of colour, those who identify as LGBT, people with disabilities or people considered ‚fat‘, for example, tend to experience more challenges to their psychological well-being in ‚the west‘.  Any genuinely liberatory approach to addressing these inequalities must strive to make visible the impact of these multiple and complex oppressions and of their bi-directional influence on wider social structures. Intersectionality offers us a starting point to illuminate the same. Using primarily personal testimonies, it will be argued that intersectionality when combined with psychological knowledge and theories may create innovative opportunities for the formulation of lived experience and for emancipatory action. Weiterlesen

Wanted: Science Reporter!

startup-593336For our next WeberWorldCafé „Diversity – Limits and Opportunities“, we are again looking for science reporters! If you want to participate as a Science Reporter, we invite you to document the event taking place on November 24th, 2016, from 3 – 6pm at Alte Mensa, Georg-August-University Göttingen – on your personal blog or ours, Twitter, Facebook or any other place on the web. The Max Weber Stiftung will cover your travel expenses and stay in Göttingen. You will also have the chance to get to know our experts better at a dinner following the event.

Are you interested? Send us a short application until November 10th, 2016 to

Table Topics: Can Cool Little Boys Wear Skirts? Gender, Parenthood and Sexuality (Ronald Saladin)

Ronald Saladin (photo: private)

Fashion can be regarded as an extension of the body. The clothes we wear can convey information about our job, our hobbies, our religion etc. Fashion tells a story about ourselves and about our lifestyle as a whole. But what does it mean if, for example, fashion magazines for men start to boom in a society where fashion interest for the longest time was understood as something genuinely female? Does it mean that ideas of masculinity change? If they do, does masculinity become more effeminate? If fashion is part of a particular lifestyle, how do different lifestyles vary in terms of fundamental gender ideals? Can men who are interested in fashion be interpreted as a sign of changes of the fundamental gender order? Also, what role does the media play in generating new gender ideals? What aspects influence the production of media that addresses apparently different ideas about femininity and masculinity? These are some of the questions I want to address when diving into the world of Japanese fashion magazines trying to figure out how fashion, lifestyle, gender, the media and social developments in contemporary Japan are linked with each other.  Weiterlesen

„Diversity – Limits and Opportunities“- Introducing Our Table Hosts

„Diversity“ seems to be all around us, but what does it really mean? What do people imagine when they are asking for a more diverse society? How can we approach aspects of diversity like gender, intersectionality, migration, or gentrification? What can we learn from communities worldwide?

Find out what diversity is all about and discuss your questions at the sixth WeberWorldCafé „Diversity – Limits and Opportunities“ taking place on November 24th, 2016, from 3 – 6pm at Alte Mensa, Georg-August-University Göttingen. Enjoy controversial debates with our table hosts on the following topics:


Conflicts in Multi-Ethnic Societies – How Do We Get Along, If You Are Not Like Me?
Bouke de Vries (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity)
Banu Karaca (The City University of New York/ EUME)

Fighting Complex Structures with New Concepts: How „Superdiversity“ Can Help Us Understand Contemporary Migration Flows
Alexandre Tandé (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity)
Laurence Lessard-Phillips (University of Birmingham)

Can Cool Little Boys Wear Skirts? Gender, Parenthood and Sexuality
Ronald Saladin (German Institute for Japanese Studies)
Sabine Grenz (University Göttingen)

Facing Various Axes of Oppression – Individual, Political and Legal Approaches to „Intersectionality“
Andrea D. Bührmann (University Göttingen)
Guilaine Kinouani (Clinical Psychologist and Blogger)

Diversity Management – Why Schould We Work Successfully Together If We Differ in Culture, Age, Gender and Even Language?
Astrid Biele Mefebue (University Göttingen)

Learning from the Past? Facts and Fictions from Historical Societies with Greater Diversity
Richard Wittmann (Orient Institut Istanbul)
Lorena Ossio Bustillos (Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy)

Optimizing the Body: From Health Protection to Genetic Embryo Modification
Simon Ledder (University of Tübingen)
Nitzan Rimon-Zarfaty (University Göttingen)

DiverCities. Gentrification, Social Mobility and Public Spaces
Anouk Tersteeg (Researcher in the EU-project DIVERCITIES/Utrecht University)
Qudsiya Contractor (Tata Institute of Social Sciences Mumbai)

Table Topics: „Optimizing the Body: From Health Protection to Genetic Embryo Modification“ (Simon Ledder)

Simon Ledder (photo: private)

Simon Ledder (photo: private)

The current discussions about changing one’s body by technological means are a hot topic in academia as well as in popular culture, argues social scientist Simon Ledder. Genome editing, brain chip implants, advanced prosthetics, or neuropharamaceuticals are prominently discussed in bioethics, portrayed on television (Orphan Black, Bionic Woman) and experienced in digital games (Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Bioshock). Some call them „Human Enhancement Technologies“, others ask what kind of society it takes to let these ideas become popular, usually pointing towards neoliberal requirements in the 21st century. While in related discourses the body, as a general concept, becomes a thing prone to manipulation at will, and certain types of bodies are represented as a horror scenario. „Disability“ becomes the negative contrast foil that justifies any invasive procedures. But as disability activists and theorists have pointed out, „disability“ is not foremost an essential of the body, but is a result of social and cultural factors that privilege only certain bodies. Within these discourses, however, „disability“ is once more reduced to a simple somatic entity, independent of any socio-cultural processes. Weiterlesen

Table Topics: „Optimizing the Body: From Health Protection to Genetic Embryo Modification“ (Nitzan Rimon-Zarfaty)

Nitzan Rimon Zarfaty (photo: private)

Nitzan Rimon Zarfaty (photo: private)

Based on her socio-empirical research, sociologist Dr. Nitzan Rimon-Zarfaty examines professional discourses as well as the lived experiences and moralities of lay people in the context of selective Reproductive Technologies (e.g. prenatal diagnosis (PND) leading to selective abortions and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD)). These technologies are meant to provide parents with reproductive choice and result in most cases of a detected embryonic/fetal anomaly in preventive abortion or in the avoidance of affected embryos transfer and implantation. Therefore, they are highly controversial and have given raise to ongoing ethical, academic, and public debates. The main objections against the implementation of such technologies take issue with the way in which this approach to human life reflects and constructs normative social boundaries and standards of health, determines what life is worth living, and perpetuates the stigma of and the intolerance towards disabilities. Weiterlesen


“We don’t need any more writers as solitary heroes. We need a heroic writer’s movement: assertive, militant, pugnacious.”  ~Toni Morrison

Media Diversified is a non-profit organisation, which aims to promote not only a platform

for writers of colour but also provides contacts and advice to those who want to publish. Since July 2013, Media Diversified delivers original content on challenging issues such as politics, economics, social justice, (gender)equality and popular culture.

In 2015 the Expert Directory was launched, a searchable database providing a network for those who work in the media. Shortly after, in 2016, Media Diversified launched the Bare Lit Festival and is thus giving authors with diverse ethnic backgrounds a voice and the public attention they deserve. The media campaign #AllWhiteFrontPages urges the media landscape to include minority groups in their articles and hopes to raise awareness to a general public.

While bringing diverse writers to the table, Media Diversified undermines everyday racism and media stereotypes. The unique point of view, offered only through the eyes of those who may have suffered from racism can help to destroy the very foundation this racism is build upon.

#OM10 – ein besetzes Haus für Geflüchtete

Geflüchtete werden auch heute noch in Massenunterkünften untergebracht, es fehlt an bezahlbarem Wohnraum… Dabei stehen in vielen deutschen Städten Immobilien und Wohnungen seit Jahren leer.

An dem weiß-gekachelten Haus mit den sechzehn großen Fenstern hängen Spruchbänder und Transparente. Das Haus selbst scheint etwas in die Jahre gekommen zu sein. Hier bröckelt der Putz, dort zeigt sich Rost, und die Witterung hat deutlich sichtbar ihre Spuren hinterlassen. Dem Betrachtenden wird sofort klar: Dieses Haus ist besetzt. Weiterlesen

„Solange wir Sprachkompetenz zur Voraussetzung machen, verhindern wir Integration“ – Interview mit Matthias Knuth

Bild: Integration (Bild: geralt | CC 0)

Bild: Integration (geralt | CC 0)

In den aktuellen Debatten um Diversität in Deutschland erhitzen sich schnell die Gemüter. Neben der Frage nach der Unterbringung von Geflüchteten ist vor allem ihre Integration in die deutsche Gesellschaft und den Arbeitsmarkt ein viel diskutiertes Thema. Fragen nach Sprachkompetenz und Integrationswillen sind eben so prominent wie die nach der viel zitierten „Willkommenskultur“ und der mögliche Entwicklung von Parallelgesellschaften. Doch was sind wirklich die größten Hürden der Integration und welchen Effekt werden die aktuellen Migrationswellen auf den deutschen Arbeitsmarkt haben? Wir haben bei einem der führenden Arbeitsmarkt-Experten, Matthias Knuth, nachgefragt. Weiterlesen

WeberWorldCafé „Diversity – Limits and Opportunities“

 24st November 2016, 3 – 6pm

Alte Mensa, Georg-August-University Göttingen, Wilhelmsplatz 3
37073 Göttingen

Please register via

In recent years the concept of “diversity” has almost become a civic virtue as society continued to become more diverse due to, among other factors, increased mobility, less strict gender roles, improved living conditions and individualization processes. From NGOs to government agencies and the business world, in public discourse and in policy debates the call for “more diversity” is greater than ever. At the same time, diversity studies emerged as a new research trend in the social sciences, trying to comprehend how the diversity of lifestyles, value systems and experiences has impacted, or might affect forms of social interaction, self-conception and internal integration of societies. While the precise impact of diversity remains vague, researchers disagree on the meaning of their findings, since most studies can only point to correlations between attitudes and facts without determining whether they are causally related.

Diversity: Protagonists and Concepts (photo: Gesche Schifferdecker)

Diversity: Protagonists and Concepts (photo: Gesche Schifferdecker)

For the workplace, some studies show that in multinational corporations as well as in schools and universities, diversity can be a driver of performance and innovation. Other research results suggest that an increase in diversity might also bring tensions, mistrust and misunderstandings depending on the social environment and mediation. Diversity’s effects on communities are equally ambivalent: According to conflict theory, people living in communities where other ethnicities and minorities are present are more likely to feel threatened and show a lower level of trust. Other theories are based on the assumption that the heterogeneous composition of a community enhances their resources and thus their chances of a rich and peaceful life. These contradictory opinions illustrate that the opportunities as well as the potential limits of diversity are still debated.

In our WeberWorldCafé, we want to further discuss what impact and effects diversity has – as well as examine the powers that constitute and produce diversity – by considering discourses on diversity, institutional frameworks, migration flows, and goals and interactions of individual actors. In order to touch on as many aspects of diversity as possible, we will bundle issues to be discussed at eight “topic tables”: Weiterlesen

„Generation Mix“: Diversität als Chance

„Multi-Kulti ist tot!“ erklärte 2010 der damalige bayrische Ministerpräsident Horst Seehofer. Auch die Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel pflichtete bei, der „Ansatz sei gescheitert, absolut gescheitert.“1

Diese Aussagen laufen vollkommen an der Realität in Deutschland vorbei, das zeigen Zahlen (Zensus 2011) aus München mit einem MigrantInnen-Anteil in der Bevölkerung von rund 34 Prozent, Hamburg 31 Prozent und Berlin mit 28 Prozent.

Vielmehr ist das genaue Gegenteil der Fall: die multikulturelle Stadt lebt und wird gelebt. In der Stadt ist die urdeutsche Eckkneipe genauso ein Teil des Kiez‘ wie der türkische Gemüseladen, das italienische oder das kroatische, das indische oder das japanische Restaurant.


  1. vgl. Spiegel Online vom 16.10.2010, []

Tipp: „Angst vor dem Nachbarn“? Podiumsdiskussion an der Uni Köln

böllWas sagt die Psychologie über die Entstehung von Stereotypen? Welche gesellschaftlichen Mechanismen greifen bei ihrer Verbreitung? Und was kann man tun, um ihnen zu begegnen?

Kommenden Dienstag, den 5. Juli 2016, lädt die Kölner StipendiatInnengruppe der Heinrich Böll-Stiftung ab 20 Uhr alle Interessierten ein, an der Podiumsdiskussion „Angst vor dem Nachbarn“ im Geo-Bio-Hörsaal der Universität zu Köln teilzunehmen. Ein Punkt, der sicherlich Teil der Debatte sein wird, ist die „Kölner Silvesternacht“ und ihre Spuren in den Medien, in den Köpfen und im Alltag vieler Menschen.   Weiterlesen

Curious Experts, Witty High-Schoolers – The WeberWorldCafé „Refugees in the City“


„What is needed?“ – Detail from the exhibition of 7xjung.

WeberWorldCafés are always somehow experimental. First of all, you never know how the “table hosts” (experts who moderate the discussions) will act, whether they will tend to hold a monologue or really encourage the participants to exchange views and experiences as they are supposed to. Especially for scholars, who are used to classical formats like panels and speeches, it seems to be quite a challenge to have a chat with non-experts about their subjects. But most of the researchers are intrigued by the idea of doing just that – for once communicating outside the box. That is why they travel around the world, fly from Japan, India, the US or South Africa to Germany in order to discuss their research in simple terms for a couple of hours with an audience for whom their topics are fascinating and novel.

Secondly, you never know beforehand how the participants will engage. My impression is that many of the students who come to our events are used to ex-cathedra teaching. They listen and take notes – but they are afraid to participate in the discussion, because they think they do not know enough about the subjects. But this is exactly the point of the event: Experts exchanging thoughts with non-experts, on equal terms. It is fine to be a non-specialist. Sometimes you can challenge an expert more with a naive question than with a specific inquiry. After the organization of five WeberWorldCafés, I must say: while most of the PhD students and other participants partake and ask questions, undergraduate students often hesitate. Although I graduated from university eight years ago, I can still remember how debate culture was not genuinely promoted there – hence the surprisingly poor involvement of students. For us, the organizers, it was difficult to understand why students so far had been so reluctant to embrace all opportunities to freely discuss their interests and ideas with experts from all over the world over a casual cup of coffee. Or are we mistaken? Should we have instructed the table hosts to address their silent listeners with direct questions? Anyways, we wanted to try something new this time, targeting a new audience. Weiterlesen

Schwarze Zahlen statt Spekulation: Asyl, Migration und Integration in Deutschland

Grafik: "Hauptherkunftsländer im Mai 2016" (c) BAMF

Grafik aus der Asylgeschäftsstatistik 05/2016: „Hauptherkunftsländer im Mai 2016“ (c) BAMF

Im vergangenen Jahr wurden in ganz Deutschland so viele Asyl-Anträge gestellt wie noch nie,1 ganze 476.000. Gleichzeitig ist die „Flüchtlingsfrage“ in den Nachrichten so präsent wie kein anderes Thema. Die Medien berichten unermüdlich, wie zahlreiche Menschen, die ihre Heimat wegen Terror, Krieg, Gewalt und/oder Armut verlassen müssen, sich auf den Weg machen, um in Deutschland Zuflucht zu finden. Von der Aussicht auf ein Leben in Frieden motiviert, treten viele Syrer, Albaner, Somalier oder Afghanen den oft beschwerlichen und gefährlichen Weg nach Europa an, auch wenn dies zum Teil für sie bedeutet, ihre Familien zurücklassen zu müssen.

Doch was wissen wir überhaupt über die Thematik, das über die Verzweiflung dieser Menschen und die Strapazen der Flucht hinausgeht? Wie sich die Zuwanderung der Menschen auf die Wirtschaft und Politik der Bundesrepublik auswirken wird, kann bisher nur spekuliert werden. Zahlen und Fakten zu Geflüchteten werden oft verzerrt dargestellt, dabei steht der Zugang zu den statistisch erhobenen Zahlen allen Interessierten gleichermaßen offen. Weiterlesen

  1. Zum Vergleich – bis dato hatte diesen Status das Jahr 1992 inne, in dem 438.000 Anträgen auf Asyl beim Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (BAMF) eingingen. []