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For, against and beyond. Contestations of the Social State in Germany today

Lan­guages: Eng­lish and German

Abol­i­tion­ist move­ments demand the abol­i­tion of police, pris­ons and pun­ish­ment. They argue that law enforce­ment agen­cies repro­duce racial­ized orders. They aim to build self-organ­ized struc­tures of mutual aid and trans­form­at­ive justice and, some­times, demand the expan­sion of wel­fare ser­vices. So far, less atten­tion is given to how the wel­fare sys­tem does not only sup­port and secure people in need, but also dis­cip­lines, pun­ishes, ban­ishes and lets people die. With the aim of migra­tion con­trol, for example, racial­ized and migrant­ized people are reg­u­larly excluded from wel­fare alto­gether, or they are only given access on con­di­tion of employ­ment. For poor people who do not con­form to the hetero- and cis-norm­at­ive fam­ily model it is par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult to access social ser­vices. The wel­fare state does not treat all sub­jects equally, but places them in dif­fer­ent rela­tion­ships to each other, to them­selves, to the state and to the (global) labor mar­ket. Social (state) regimes thereby fun­da­ment­ally shape every­day cul­tures and ideas about soci­ety, the eco­nomy and the indi­vidual. They are the res­ult of his­tor­ical struggles and a point of ref­er­ence for social justice move­ments. Right-wing and con­ser­vat­ive forces, on the other hand, mobil­ize for a pro­tec­tion of national wel­fare sys­tems from the alleged threats of migra­tion, social fraud or queer ways of living.

This work­shop sets out to under­stand cur­rent social (state) regimes in their com­plex­ity. It is clear that much has happened in the last dec­ades. The Ger­man social (state) regime was trans­formed by unequal European­iz­a­tion and (re-)nationalization, new viol­ent bor­der regimes, eco­nom­iz­a­tion and aus­ter­ity, but also by eman­cip­at­ory struggles. The Covid-19 pan­demic has shown how quickly and extens­ively gov­ern­ments can adjust social policies. The intro­duc­tion of Ger­man Bür­gergeld (‚citizen’s money’), on the other hand, came with an exclu­sion­ary name but, argu­ably, little sub­stan­tial change. At the same time, the author­it­ies have ramped up their fight against so-called wel­fare fraud. Today, infla­tion exacer­bates the crisis of reproduction.

We want to dis­cuss what a crit­ical ana­lysis of social (state) regimes should look like today. Our goal is to foster a con­ver­sa­tion between crit­ical know­ledge prac­tices from both within and out­side aca­demia. We ask: What role do social (state) regimes play in cur­rent con­junc­tures of racial­ized cap­it­al­ism? What cri­tiques of the wel­fare state emerge from the per­spect­ive of com­munity organ­iz­a­tions of pre­cari­ously employed and unem­ployed people in a migra­tion soci­ety? How do social (state) regimes shape the every­day life of dif­fer­ent status groups and how do they relate to it? What the fuck is going on? How can we situ­ate the social ques­tion in transna­tional and post-national con­texts? What is the poten­tial of abol­i­tion­ist per­spect­ives on struggles around ‚the Social’ and for a good life in the EUropean and Ger­man con­texts and beyond?

This is the kick-off work­shop of the DFG Emmy Noether Junior Research Group „Con­test­a­tions of ‚the Social’ — Towards a Move­ment-Based Eth­no­graphic Social (State) Regime Ana­lysis”, based at the Insti­tute of European Eth­no­logy and Empir­ical Cul­tural Stud­ies at LMU and work­ing closely with the groups BASTA!, ALSO and Pro­ject Shel­ter. The Ber­lin-based unem­ployed ini­ti­at­ive BASTA! offers advice ser­vices sev­eral times a week and con­ducts cam­paigns and train­ing ses­sions. Arbeitslo­senselb­sthilfe Olden­burg (ALSO) provides inde­pend­ent and free social advice, has its own house and sup­ports pre­cari­ous work­ers in the meat industry, among oth­ers. Pro­ject Shel­ter is a group of people with and without a his­tory of flight or migra­tion, fight­ing for the rights of home­less people in Frankfurt/Main and work­ing to guar­an­tee that their needs are met. We are look­ing for­ward to the exchange!


Fri­day, Nov. 17, 2023
11.30 a.m.

Arrival and lunch
12:30–2 p.m.Wel­come & short inputs from the CoS team & groups, inter­act­ive format
2:15–3:45 p.m.
Panel I
Crit­ical Per­spect­ives on the (Social) State Today
with Melinda Cooper (Aus­tralian National Uni­ver­sity), Manuela Bojadžijev (HU Ber­lin) and
Ver­onika Zablot­sky (FU Ber­lin, Abol­i­tion Bey­ond Bor­ders Col­lect­ive), facil­it­a­tion: Lisa Ried­ner, CoS-Team
4–5 p.m.Panel II
Legal Struggles within and bey­ond Social (State) Regimes
with Aino Kor­vensyrjä & Mit­ali Nagre­cha (Justice Col­lect­ive) and Max Pichl (Uni Kas­sel),
facil­it­a­tion: Valentina Moraru, CoS-Team
5:30–6:30 p.m.Inter­act­ive dis­cus­sion and get together
6:30 p.m.Din­ner
8–10 p.m.BASTA! Ber­lin invites to a pub­lic event with ALSO, Pro­ject Shel­ter and LACAN
Sam­stag, 18.11.2023
9–10:30 a.m.

Panel III
(Sub-)Urban Organ­iz­ing within and against Racial Cap­it­al­ism
with Pete White (LACAN), Stefania Ani­mento (HU Ber­lin, Work­ers Cen­ter Ber­lin), Mouna
Maaroufi (Uni Ham­burg), facil­it­a­tion: Anda Nic­olae-Vladu (ALSO, Uni Bochum)
11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Panel IV
Social (state) regime ana­lysis through the lens of bor­der, labour, gender
and poor people’s struggles?

with Peter Birke (Uni Göt­tin­gen), Mari­bel Casas-Cor­tes (Uni Zar­agoza), Josie Hooker (Uni Bath)
(Uni Bologna), facil­it­a­tion: Lisa Ried­ner, CoS-team
12.30 p.m.Lunch
1:30–3 p.m.Final dis­cus­sion
For, against and beyond? 
3:00 p.m. –5:00 p.mCof­fee and mak­ing plans


Aino Kor­vensyrjä is a social anthro­po­lo­gist and act­iv­ist whose work crit­ic­ally addresses deport­a­tion, bor­ders racism, poli­cing, pun­ish­ment, and social move­ments. She joined the anti­racist court­watch­ing group Jus­tizwatch in 2016. In 2023, she worked as a research asso­ci­ate in Justice Col­lect­ive, research­ing racism in Ger­man courts and the crim­inal legal system.

Anda Nic­olae-Vladu is an act­iv­ist at Arbeitslo­senselb­sthilfe Olden­burg, a mul­ti­lin­gual basis organ­iz­a­tion fight­ing against poverty and sup­port­ing people in claim­ing their social rights. She is also a PhD Researcher in mod­ern his­tory at the Ruhr Uni­ver­sity Bochum, where she researches migrant struggles within the north-west-Ger­man tex­tile industry.

Josie Hooker is a PhD stu­dent at the Uni­ver­sity of Bath, UK. Arising from struggles dur­ing and after the Covid-19 pan­demic, her PhD explores how labour, social and bor­der regimes medi­ate the health of low-paid, pre­cari­ously employed migrant work­ers in London.

Lisa Ried­ner is lead­ing the Junior Research Group „Con­test­a­tion of ‚the Social’ ” at the Insti­tute for European Eth­no­logy and Cul­tural Ana­lysis of the LMU Munich. She likes to explore the inter­sec­tions of aca­demic, act­iv­ist, and artistic practices.

Manuela Bojadžijev is Pro­fessor at the Insti­tute for European Eth­no­logy and the Insti­tute for Migra­tion Research at the Hum­boldt Uni­ver­sity Ber­lin. She invest­ig­ates cur­rent trans­form­a­tion pro­cesses of mobil­ity and migra­tion as well as racism, in inter­play with changes in work and every­day life through digit­al­isa­tion and logist­ics, pre­dom­in­antly in urban spaces and in geo­pol­it­ical constellations.

Max Pichl is Pro­fessor at the Rhein/Main Uni­ver­sity. His book „Recht­skäm­pfe. Eine Ana­lyse der Rechts­ver­fahren nach dem Som­mer der Migra­tion” (Cam­pus: Frank­furt am Main, 2021) is now also avail­able open access as an ebook.

Melinda Cooper is a pro­fessor in the School of Soci­ology at The Aus­tralian National Uni­ver­sity. Her book Coun­ter­re­volu­tion: Extra­vag­ance and Aus­ter­ity in Pub­lic Fin­ance is forth­com­ing in March 2024.

Mouna Maaroufi has been a research assist­ant at the Chair of Gen­eral Soci­ology at Uni­versität Ham­burg since 2022. Pre­vi­ously, she com­pleted her dis­ser­ta­tion entitled „Migra­tion and Racial­isa­tion. Recon­fig­ur­ing Infra­struc­tures of Labour Sup­ply After the ‚Sum­mer of Migra­tion’ ” at the Leu­phana Uni­ver­sity of Lüneb­urg. She also worked part-time as a labour law advisor for migrants at Arbeit und Leben eV. Her research focuses on trans­form­a­tions and infra­struc­tures in migra­tion and labour regimes, racism and pre­car­isa­tion as well as autonom­ous labour struggles, social struggles and anti-racism.

Pete White is an organ­izer and artist from Los Angeles and founder of the Los Angeles Com­munity Action Net­work. His work has centered on power-build­ing, cul­ture, and com­munity-based innov­a­tion as essen­tial stra­tegic tools.

Peter Birke works at the Soci­olo­gical Research Insti­tute, Göt­tin­gen. His cur­rent main research interest is the inter­re­lated­ness of the organ­iz­a­tion of labor pro­cesses and bor­der regimes, that might shape form of res­ist­ance against racism and exploitation.

Stefania Ani­mento is a Soci­olo­gist, now work­ing as an inde­pend­ent researcher and act­iv­ist. Her interests include migra­tion, labour, social move­ments, digital cap­it­al­ism. She writes on labour struggles and racism in digital eco­nom­ies and has also been part of sev­eral act­iv­ist pro­jects in Ber­lin, such as Ber­lin Migrant Strikers, Crit­ical Work­ers and more recently Work­ers Cen­ter Ber­lin.

Tim Herbold is a PhD researcher with the Junior Research Group „Con­test­a­tion of ‚the Social’ ” at the Insti­tute for European Eth­no­logy and Cul­tural Ana­lysis of the LMU Munich.

Valentina Moraru is an act­iv­ist and researcher cur­rently fin­ish­ing her first PhD-year in the Con­test­a­tions of the Social pro­ject. Work­ing closely with the Arbeitslo­senselb­sthilfe Olden­burg, her research sits at the inter­sec­tion of mor­al­ity, pre­cari­ous labor and migration.

Ver­onika Zablot­sky is a polit­ical the­or­ist and postdoc at FU Ber­lin who is cur­rently work­ing on sanc­tu­ary, abol­i­tion, and cross-bor­der solid­ar­ity from a transna­tional fem­in­ist and post­co­lo­nial per­spect­ive. She co-foun­ded the Abol­i­tion Bey­ond Bor­ders Col­lect­ive, the Crit­ical Armenian Stud­ies Col­lect­ive, and is a mem­ber of the Inter­na­tional Solid­ar­ity Action Research Net­work.

Inter­pret­a­tion: Stefan Schade and team

Event tech­no­logy: Rein­hard Grinschgl, Green Con­gress

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