Gender, Islam and the Moral Economy of the European Refugee Crisis

Kate Jastram , Anna Korteweg and Akasemi Newsome
Sarah Song
Session Organizer:
Akasemi Newsome
Friday, June 24, 2016: 2:30 PM-4:00 PM
119 Moses (Moses Hall)
For many astute observers in academic, policy and media circles, the decision of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to suspend the Dublin Rules in August 2015, constituted an Open Door Policy for migrants of all stripes, be they refugees, asylum seekers or economic migrants. Public responses to Merkel's generosity were largely positive as thousands of Germans volunteered to shelter, clothe and welcome new migrants. Employers heralded the influx of refugees as a boon to an economy experiencing shortages in skilled labor. Despite the moral and economic arguments in favor of accepting refugees, mere weeks later, Germany and other EU member states reinstated border checks, as a counter mobilization of nationalist and xenophobic parties and social movements protested the influx of immigrants. Pegida and its ilk emphasized the moral and economic threat posed by Muslim (read: terrorist) migrants undeserving of jobs or social welfare. Moral arguments against the intake of refugees originating in far right circles spread to the mainstream after media outlets reported hundreds of incidents of sexual assault against women celebrating New Year's Eve beneath the Cologne Cathedral by men described by victims as refugees and migrants of North African and Middle Eastern descent. Participants in this panel will parse the political and moral implications of various responses by parties, domestic institutions, employers, unions, religious organizations and the public to the developing refugee crisis in Europe. Papers will also explore the ways in which the issues of gender and Islam have shaped debates on the moral and political question of accepting Syrian refugees, effectively superseding discussions of economic brain gain and the free movement of labor.