by Gabriella Mikiewicz
One of my first questions about the EMMIR program was “why Oldenburg?” Is it just that the university here has a good foundation for studying migration? Was this city just randomly chosen? Why are we in this small town in northern Germany?
Our activity yesterday gave us some answers, or at least one of the reasons why our EMMIR headquarters are here as well as why our first semester starts here.
Oldenburg is one of 10 “Arrival Cities” around Europe, where a lot of migrants arrive and stay. This has created some obvious and expected tension, and even a racist pushback against migrants and refugees. But it’s also created a resistance movement against that racism.
“Currently, almost 22% of the Oldenburg’s population is from a migrant background, with people from Iraq, Turkey and Poland making up the largest migrant communities. Oldenburg is also home to Europe’s largest Yazidi community and has become the heart of the worldwide Yazidi diaspora. Through the German national dispersal plan, Oldenburg received over 1400 refugees in 2015, at a rate of around 40 new arrivals per week.” (urbact)
The Arrival Cities project is created by URBACT, a European exchange and learning program promoting sustainable urban development. Community leaders from the various Arrival Cities meet together a few times per year to share experiences and learn from each other.
Us EMMIR students were lucky to attend one of the Arrival Cities meetings with people from the different Arrival Cities around Europe and get to know the city of Oldenburg better. Not just your regular every-day tour though, we wanted to get to know Oldenburg through the lens of migration, history, resistance, media, and more.
We were split up into 6 themed groups and given a map and a destination, then we were told to use Twitter or Facebook to post pictures about our themes along the way to our destination using #arrivalcities.
Here are some pictures from our wander around the city of Oldenburg trying to find forms of “resistance in public spaces:”