Chronicles

chronicle 5, october 7 th 2019

The Press release “Hotspot” approach is NOT the solution!
By RESPOND Project Consortium

The EC-funded international research project “RESPOND: Multilevel Governance of Mass Migration in Europe and Beyond” calls for human-rights responses to the explosive situation at the refugee camp “Moria” and in the Aegean region.

After another fire in which a woman was burnt to death, on Sunday 29 September 2019, the inhuman and volatile situation of the “hot-spot” Moria on the Greek island, Lesbos attracted further worldwide publicity. The woman’s death on Sunday was the third in the last two months. An Afghan teenager was killed in a fight in August and a five-year-old boy was run over by a truck while playing in a cardboard box outside the camp in September. The camp, which is supposed to host just 3,000 asylum seekers, is notoriously over-populated, and now houses 13,000 people. The appalling condition of Moria camp is known and has been made public by a number of academic studies and NGOs including Doctors without Borders, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as the Greek health service.

In the context of our own year-long academic commitment and research on the governance of the recent mass migration movements to central Europe, we have personally observed how this place has changed. It has turned into an area where aggression, violence, despair, depression, human trafficking (especially of young women) and a high suicide rate are dominating the everyday life of the arriving migrants. The “hot spot” Moria was established by the EU and the Greek government to bring order to the refugee migration movements in 2015 and 2016. However, instead of providing good governance, the hotspot approach has by-and-large failed. In fact, it has led to a highly chaotic legal and social situation where the dignity of the asylum-seeking migrants - as enshrined in international human rights and humanitarian laws such as the Anti-Torture Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Asylum System - is being trampled into the dust of the camp.

The hot-spot approach is described in the European Agenda on migration as one of the cornerstones of the new EU migration and asylum policy. It has failed due to the way it has been implemented within the EU-Turkey-Deal of 2016, which was mainly designed by the German government to stop the mass movements of asylum-seeking refugees through the Balkan route to northern European countries such as Austria, Germany or Sweden. The number of people returning to Turkey has been relatively small - the deal has never worked in the way that its originators intended. Instead, the deal, in connection with the hot spot system, has turned the Greek islands into a zone of deterrence and immobilization.

RESPOND project, consisting of 14 partner institutions, has conducted research in 11 countries in order to provide in-depth analysis to the responses given to the 2015 so-called “refugee crisis” both at policy and practice levels and to analyze the governance structures at both national and local levels within the EU. RESPOND had a specific focus on the narratives of asylum seekers and refugees and endeavored to understand the impact of mass migration on the lives of people. After almost two years of our research we have to summarize that the situation in the Aegean region is deteriorating again; the measures and policies like the EU-Turkey deal and the hot spot approach have failed to bring order to the forced migration flows, and in particular they are lacking essential human rights standards and legal (procedural) norms.

We have to remind all governments, especially the EU Member States, that refugee rights are an intrinsic part of human rights which have been clearly formulated in international conventions. It is not acceptable that people fleeing war and destruction in their countries of origin now face inhuman conditions on European territory.

We appeal to the governments and the EU Commission to go back to their own conventions and directives; develop human rights-based migration policies and long-term solutions for the governance of global migration. The Hotspot approach is NOT the solution!

01-10-2019
RESPOND Project Consortium
Contact: Sabine Hess, Institute for Cultural Anthropology of the University of Göttingen, shess@uni-goettingen.de

Image above: Fire in Moria Camp through a cable burn on 29th of Septemer 2019. (image: RESPOND Project Team)

CHRONICLE 2, JuNE 5th 2019

A window to a new religious cosmopolitan world

Katarina Westerlund

It is a common thought that Sweden is becoming more and more secularized. That people and organizations are becoming less and less orientated towards religious beliefs and religious ways of living. However, simultaneously to this process, a religious revival is taking place right in front of us. In big cosmopolitan cities like London, Paris and Stockholm, Pentecostal migrant congregations are multiplying. In the Stockholm area we currently find among 100 Pentecostal migrant churches, of which approx. 70 have sprung up in the city stage since the year 2000.

In a newly started research project, Pentecostal Migration in Secular Sweden: Influences and Challenges, at the Uppsala Religion and Society Research Centre, we will study this charismatic revival, that is a part of a global movement affecting cosmopolitan cites all over the world. http://www.crs.uu.se/pentecostal/

These churches, their growing numbers in Sweden and their global connections, has not yet attracted much attention. This research will therefore open a new window by investigating this religious revival in the capital of Sweden. This window will also make visible the many and diverse contacts these churches have in other parts of the world, both through the migrant’s nationalities and the profound international character of these churches.

The project is multi-disciplinary, with researchers from anthropology, church history, eccesiology, sociology of religion, theology, and constitutional law. This broad competence and scope will provide a comprehensive map of this unknown religious revival. But we will also provide an immense understanding of the life and faith of the new Swedes that form these churches.

Starting this fall, we have initiated field work in three churches in the Stockholm area, one Latin-American, one Arabic and one African church. Interestingly enough, in each one of them several nationalities are intermixed. It is a fascinating journey that has started to unfold, both the ones told by the Pentecostal migrants and the one undertaken by those of us who do the research. We visit services, meetings and conferences, conduct personal interviews with pastors and members, we follow their social media feeds and other outreach activities. Through this, the window that has opened slightly offers a rich material.

During the summer the growing number of migrant churches – of different denominations – will be highlighted during a seminar at Almedalen. Two of the project members– Magdalena Nordin and Torbjörn Aronsson – will take part and discuss religion as an important aspect of the integration of migrants. The question for the seminar: What is the role of religion in integration in Sweden today?, is a hot topic of the day and also of deep importance for the project. It is however not the only view that will be visible through this new window being opened, but that is a story that will be able to be told later on… http://www.crs.uu.se/pentecostal/

CHRONICLE 1, December 3th 2018

Philosophical analysis of the world-view of anthroposophy

by Oliver Lee

In September I received a one-year scholarship from Axel Margaret Ax:son Johnsons stiftelse for a philosophical analysis of the world-view of anthroposophy.
In the past century, anthroposophy has been one of the most well-known and influential alternative spiritual movements. There are worldwide over one thousand Waldorf schools, nearly two thousand kindergartens, and some six hundred social therapy facilities working in accordance with ideas from the anthroposophical worldview. Furthermore, ideas from anthroposophy have influenced and inspired ecological farming, alternative medicine, religion, the arts and architecture leading for example to the method of biodynamic farming or the foundation of Christengemeinschaft.

Anthroposophy does not regard itself as a religion or religious world-view. Steiner often emphasizes that the claims made in his world-view are based on a method close to the methods of natural science. This claim is for example reflected in the subtitle Some results of introspective observation following the methods of Natural Science of his foundational book The Philosophy of Freedom. Nevertheless, many features such as the distinction between the physical body, an etherical body, an astral body, and the "I", the use of the concepts of reincarnation and karma, meditation practices, implicit recommendations related to the way of living, or Steiner's esoteric teachings prompt associations of a supernaturalistic or a religious world-view. Given the clear and massive impact of anthroposophy on modern societies mainly in the Western hemisphere, but also elsewhere, a philosophical analysis including a constructive dialogue of the epistemological and metaphysical foundations of anthroposophy is well motivated. In recent years it has also been suggested to widen the scope of philosophy of religion which often has been restricted to the Christian tradition.

The aim of this project is to identify major epistemological and metaphysical claims within anthroposophy, to identify how Steiner originally argued for and justified these claims, to analyze and critically asses them, and also to attempt to engage in a constructive dialogue between contemporary academic philosophy of religion and anthroposophy.
At present, an article, which identifies and analyses ideas about reincarnation and karma within anthroposophy has been submitted for peer-review. Studying the epistemological approach in the early philosophical works by Steiner and the credibility, plausibility, and epistemological status of the results of Steiner's esoteric path of knowledge will be the next step in this philosophical analysis.