Welcome Refugees: Feminist Speculations from Canada to Germany

Thursday, 22. June 2017
17.30 – 19.00

University of Konstanz, F 0425

Leila Whitley

Encarnación Gutiérrez Rodríguez (Universität Giessen, Germany), Melissa Autumn White (Hobart and William Smith Colleges, USA), Nandita Sharma (University of Hawai’i, USA), Sharalyn Jordan (Simon Fraser University, Canada)

Canada and Germany have each been heralded as global leaders in response to the global “refugee crisis”. In 2015, the federal government of Canada began implementation of its refugee resettlement plan, #WelcomeRefugees, announcing that it would welcome over 25,000 Syrian refugees through both government sponsored and privately sponsored resettlement initiatives. As of December 4, 2016, Canada had resettled over 38,000 refugees. After Germany announced its “open-door” policy, it is estimated that more than 1 million refugees arrived there in 2015-2016. Both countries also operate private sponsorship models for those granted refugee status. In 2016, a collaborative initiative was launched through the UNHCR, the Government of Canada, and the Open Society Foundations to promote Canada’s private sponsorship model internationally. 15 of 16 German states currently operate a model of private sponsorship, with the federal government considering regularising the policy at the federal level.

In the context of the exportation of this model, and as Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary, the launch of the Critical Feminist Network on Migration and Refugees provides an opportunity to reflect on Canada’s history of migration in relation to its ongoing colonisation of indigenous peoples, and what it means both to practice private sponsorship in Canada and to export this model to other spaces. Refugee resettlement is arguably part of Canada’s broader strategy of extinguishing indigenous title through the assimilative demographic politics of multiculturalism. At the same time, transnational discourses of “refugees welcome” are often articulated from the intersection between indigenous politics of sovereignty and no borders movements.

 Structured as a roundtable, the panelists will engage the audience in a discussion around the following questions:

  1. How have histories of colonialism and war in Canada and Germany shaped the current refugee crisis?
  2. What is the relationship between state, civil society (e.g., NGO), humanitarian, and solidarity responses in each location?
  3. How do you envision a feminist response to the current global refugee crisis, but also in anticipation of future crisis (e.g. climate refugees)?

Moderator: Dr. Gada Mahrouse (Concordia University, Canada)


  • Professor Encarnación Gutiérrez Rodríguez (Universität Giessen, Germany)
  • Dr. Melissa Autumn White (Hobart and William Smith Colleges, USA)
  • Dr. Nandita Sharma (University of Hawai’i, USA)
  • Dr. Sharalyn Jordan (Simon Fraser University, Canada)

This event is open to all. It is part of the first workshop of the Critical Feminist Network on Migration and Refugees and organised by Leila Whitley, Fellow of the Zukunftskolleg affiliated with the Department of Literature (Leila.whitley@uni-konstanz.de).