You are here:

  • blog

London Postmigrant!?

Written by Anita Rotter |

I flew to London at the end of February 2023; it was my very first visit to the city. In November of the previous year, I had applied for a place on the new Fellowship exchange programme at the School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London. This collaboration between the University of London and the University of Innsbruck enables academics to spend a research period in London or Innsbruck. The Academic Network Britain-Innsbruck, or BritInn for short, and SAS announce this opportunity every autumn. The timing of such a stay abroad, shortly after my doctorate, was perfect for me. So, I decided to send off my application. The application papers included a concept for the planned project and a supportive letter from the cooperation partner at the host university. Godela Weiss-Sussex, Professor of Modern German Literature at the School of Advanced Study, came on board as my cooperation partner. The common ground of our research lies in the concept of the postmigrant. While Godela Weiss-Sussex uses/examines the postmigrant idea as a possible category of analysis of literary texts, I use postmigrant perspectives to explore social phenomena, such as migration. Particularly inspiring for me were the conversations and discussions about postmigration. The colleagues from London and I use this approach (partly) differently. The strength of the concept for me is that it contains a migration-affirming, diversity-friendly, racism-critical/antiracist and overall critical view. I was very pleased to see that this common postmigrant perspective that we take, can enrich different academic disciplines.

Postmigrant perspectives in educational science and migration research
The term “postmigrantisch” in German, translated here as “postmigration” or “postmigrant perspective”, was recently developed in German-speaking countries and has also been employed in an international context. The concept of postmigration is a flexible way of thinking about migration and society. The prefix “post” in postmigration does not mean that migration is a completed process or that migration is over. It is about the experiences that people make after their migration in the country of arrival. In the postmigrant perspective and in the postmigrant society (“postmigrantische Gesellschaft”, Foroutan 2019), migration is no longer a special case and multiple affiliations are no longer declared a problem or an exception. Postmigration is about negotiation processes or social transformations that take place after migration. It's about no longer thinking in categories. The goal is to finally overcome thinking in terms of “us” and “them”.

My use of the postmigrant idea can be summarised as follows:
1.    Migration is understood as normality and an everyday phenomenon. (Cf. Rotter 2023, p. 59)
2.    Migration research is understood as social research and not as "special research”. In this sense, migration affects us all. (Cf. Römhild 2014, p. 39; Yıldız 2018)
3.    Migration experiences are told in a new and different way by making marginalized and untold stories the starting point of thinking. (Cf. Rotter 2023, p. 109)

These ideas on postmigration that I have just sketched are fundamental to the lecture I gave at the School of Advanced Study, presenting my doctoral work and my postdoctoral project, and the new study which I was able to kick off there. 

My lecture, which was presented as part of the ‘brown bag’ lunchtime seminars at ILCS, was entitled “Postmigrant Generation: Family Memory and Postmigrant Perspectives on Solidarity”. It gave an account of the research I had undertaken for my PhD dissertation, which focused on intergenerational family memory as an educational process among young adults of the postmigrant generation. Moving on from this, my postdoctoral project (or ‘Habilitation’), which I have recently started, now deepens the idea of the postmigrant generation and focuses on the forms and possibilities of political subjectivation within alliances of people pursuing common political agendas and interests, expressing resistance to hegemonic attitudes and practices and designing new ideas of social coexistence and political participation.