Local Migration Regimes in Rural Areas: The Example of Refugee Reception in Saxony, Germany
The reception of asylum seekers has challenged municipalities and their populations across Europe in recent years: Many rural villages and small and mid-sized towns had little prior experience with large numbers of asylum seekers. The housing of refugees constitutes one of the most controversial arenas and challenges for local communities within the reception process.
This paper sheds light on rural case studies using the perspective of migration regimes. Local Migration Regimes constitute arenas of migration-related processes including actors, practices, and negotiations at different scales. The analysis covers four rural municipalities (two villages, two towns) from two Saxonian counties in Germany. All cases have different strategies for accommodating migrants but all can be seen as post-socialist immigration societies. The findings show that the issue of reception and housing is seen as a recurrent and contested local field of conflict and cooperation in the rural case sites. The regime lens highlights the strong dependencies but also fragmentation between different levels (national, regional, and supra-local). Housing practices and strategies for refugees reflect local discourses and contribute to the social and spatial production of migration. I argue, that the regime lens contributes to an interdisciplinary understanding of local settings, acknowledges spatial and social structures but challenges empirical field work and data sets. This empirical research is based on qualitative interviews, media articles, and documents from rural counties in Germany and was conducted within the joint research project “Future for Refugees in Rural Regions of Germany”.
* This article belongs to a special issue on "Refugee Migration to Europe – Challenges and Potentials for Cities and Regions".
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