Between October 2015 and June 2016, I was a guest at CARMAH, and greatly enjoyed my time at the Institute for European Ethnology. I was conducting research in Berlin on the impact of crisis perceptions on trust in state institutions and in multicultural community life for the Woolf Institute in Cambridge. Our research project is multi-sited and comparative, combining findings from Germany, the UK, France, and Italy. My colleagues are currently based in Paris and London, and I moved to Rome in June 2016 for the second part of my fieldwork on how crisis narratives are transforming increasingly diverse community life and the relationship between citizens and their public institutions.
In Berlin, I worked with municipal authorities and civil society actors addressing the so-called refugee crisis. Beyond the city, I followed the Pegida movement in Dresden and the establishment of an emergency refugee shelter in the Harz Mountains in northern Germany, to develop a multi-layered idea of how German society reacted to the arrival of over one million foreigners in the space of just one year. Sharon Macdonald and her team at CARMAH were welcoming and offered me many opportunities to discuss ideas, particularly since both CARMAH and our research project explore the role of difference and diversity in changing societies and their institutions.
In April 2016, towards the end of my research period in Berlin, Sharon and I organised an academic workshop on ‘Experiencing Differences and Diversities in Contemporary Germany’ for the Woolf Institute and CARMAH, inviting researchers from around the world to reflect on the ways in which growing heterogeneity was changing the face of German society. We are currently in the process of preparing the workshop’s timely findings for publication. I’m very grateful for the collaboration CARMAH made possible between the Humboldt-Universität and the Woolf Institute, and will remember my time in Berlin fondly.