Supporting searchers’ desire for emplacement in Berlin: Informal practices in defiance of an (im)mobility regime

Bhimji, Fazila orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7234-852X (2021) Supporting searchers’ desire for emplacement in Berlin: Informal practices in defiance of an (im)mobility regime. Migration Letters, 18 (2). pp. 185-195. ISSN 1741-8984

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The article traces the ways in which refugees in precarious legal and economic circumstances in Lagers (refugee camps) in
Germany participate in informal practices to reverse their displaced positions. More specifically, the paper demonstrates
how refugees work in conjunction with a Berlin-based solidarity group in order to find access to informally organized housing outside of the formal bureaucratic state system. The study shows that refugees’ engagement with informal structures must be understood as struggles towards emplacement and formality. Much scholarship has discussed the economic aspects of informality in the global South and post socialist countries. However, there is little discussion on how refugees may engage in informal practices within the nation-state in order to find emplacement and achieve formality. The article additionally demonstrates how informal acts are co-produced between citizens and refugees in the process of searching and offering of living places outside state defined formal systems. Thus, informality needs to be understood as resistance against displacement, struggles towards emplacement and formality. The study draws on ethnographic data and on-going participation in a Berlin-based grassroots group, Schlafplatzorga, which supports refugees on an informal level with
temporary accommodation.

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