Ove Sutter


The emotional politics of voluntary work with refugees

Shortlink: https://www.waxmann.com/artikelART102459

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Numerous volunteers throughout Europe participated in humanitarian aid activities for refugees during the so-called “European refugee crisis” in 2015, when growing numbers of migrants arrived in the European Union. I discuss the emotional politics of this form of civic engagement drawing on an ethnographic case study of self-organized voluntary activity that occurred at the main station of a mediumsized German town. I argue that the participants created a framework of meaning by employing objects, performative practices and media representations which provided emotionalized perceptions and interpretations of the events. In doing so, the volunteers were involved in the migration management of the public authorities, while simultaneously contesting migration policies and extremist right-wing politics.

civic engagement, civil society, volunteering, political activism, emotions, migration, policy, welcome culture