Refugees: Integration, Harmonisation, Solidarity, Hospitality or what? Philosophies,Policies and Practices in Turkey and Germany

Turkey is hosting several million refugees, mostly from Syria but also many other countries. It is widely acknowledged that hosting large numbers of refugees is a morally, politically and practically complex issue and that the future of Syrian and other refugees in Turkey relies on successfully navigating the diverse challenges. Various concepts have been applied such as social harmony (“uyum”) and solidarity as referred to in Turkish law; hospitality, a rather vague concept; or integration, a rather conventional but also opalescent and partly contested concept (Schinkel 2018, Favell 2019) which is increasingly understood as national civic integration (Joppke 2007). Alternative concepts that have also been suggested are inclusion, interculturalism and social cohesion (Zapata Barrero 2017). Notably the latter have usually been considered at the local level.

Over the last decades, Turkey has been going through a migration transition meaning that the country has converted from a net emigration to a net immigration country. This has been further reinforced by the arrival of a few million Syrian refugees who are the largest immigrant groups. Cities and municipalities because they host the people are at the forefront of this process. This situation generated an almost ontological challenge with regards to the country’s and its host communities’ identity (Icduygu 2021).

Germany, too, has a long tradition of hosting large numbers of displaced persons and migrants. Within the EU, it is hosting the largest number of Syrians as well as many other refugees. Turkey and Germany and its societies and municipalities thus share long experiences with migration and the challenges to social cohesion. However, there are major differences in the respective country’s trajectories and perspectives. Whereas on the practical level much can be learned from one another, on the philosophical and policy level each specific approaches might be required.


The conference aims to facilitate an open conversation and cooperation between German and Turkish academics enriched by some international experts on how to think about and how to govern (new) diversity with the view to also underpin the practical challenges especially on the level of municipalities in both countries.

The conference will be designed as an academic event though with a policy audience in mind. It will thus have an applied touch and efforts shall be made to communicate scientific results to a mixed audience of policy makers and practitioners on local and national level.

Background, Format and Funding

The conference is funded by the Turkish-German exchange project for the integration of Syrian refugees into host communities, commissioned by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). It will precede the Turkish-German Conference on Municipal Cooperation.

The conference will be a one-day event facilitating an interactive environment by offering a mix of plenaries debates, thematic panels and a side-event.

It is in principle a Turkish-German conference though with some international contributions; thus, all panels and break-out sessions will involve Turkish and German scholars. Conference languages will be Turkish, English and German and interpretation will be provided on-site.

We aim at a hybrid format involving on-site and online participation (see below).

The conference will be organised by IMIS, GPM and GIZ and in collaboration with FFVT (Forced Migration and Refugee Studies: Networking and Knowledge Transfer) and TurkMiS (Turkey Migration Studies Network).


The conference board consists of Franck Duvell (IMIS, Osnabruck University), Ali Zafer Sagiroglu (GPM, Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University) and Thilo Moeller and Esme Bayar (both GIZ). An advisory board will also be set up.


The conference venue is Point Hotel Barbaros, Esentepe Yıldız Posta Cad. No:29 Şişli, Istanbul.


For all presenters, travel, accommodation, catering and dinners will be paid respectively reimbursed by the organisers. For all other participants there is no conference fee.


Theory, concepts, ethics of integration, harmonisation etc

  • Social cohesion

  • Children, Families

  • (Mental) Health / Social work

  • Education

  • Labour markets, economics

  • Municipalities and cities

  • Civil society

  • Gender, gender-based violence

  • Conflict, xenophobia and prevention

  • Impact of the pandemic

  • Current challenge of the influx of Afghans

  • Transnationalism; return

  • Comparative Turkish-German perspective

  • Turkish perspective on integration in Germany and lessons learned

  • Other relevant topics are also welcome

At this stage we only expect abstracts of 300-500 words in English language. Abstracts will be peer- reviewed. A selection of presenters will also be invited to contribute a full original paper to a special issue of a journal.


Registration for online participation closed.

Conference Arrival 25.11.2021

Conference 26.11.2021, 9.00-18.00

Departure 27.11.2021