Racism & racist violence in Germany from the 90s until now

Conference | When I came to Germany | October 2017 | Berlin

ConferenceWhen I came to GermanyOctober 2017 | Berlin

The beginning of the 90s saw the start of a new wave of racist attacks on migrants in the reunified Germany. In the first decade of the 2000 there were the right extremist killings of the NSU, followed by an increasing number of racist assaults on "foreign looking people". Against all of this, resistance was formed. Campaigns were developed, initiatives were created and action was taken. Recent examples are the „Ban Racial Profiling!“ campaign and the NSU-tribunal in Cologne this year.

The video can be downloaded on Vimeo. See license below.


The audio files can be downloaded on archive.org. See license below.

Photos of the Panel


Aurora Rodonò, creative artist freelancer & lecturer (Uni Köln). For many years she has addressed the history of Italian guest workers and Italian migration cinema in her work as an activist, creative artist and researcher. Currently she is working as a research associate at the university of Cologne and as a freelance creative artist and film director. From 2003 to 2006 she participated in the exhibition project „Project Migration“. In May 2017 she was active in the „Dismantling NSU complex“ tribunal in Cologne, where struggles against racism from the guest worker period until today were brought together. kunst.uni-koeln.de

Ayşe Güleç studied social pedagogy at the University of Kassel and started working from 1998 at the Kulturzentrum Schlachthof (Stockyard Cultural Center) in the area of migration and (inter-)cultural education. She developed the advisory board of documenta 12 and was henceforth its spokesperson. She became member of the Maybe Education group of documenta 13 and trained part of its team of cultural mediators. She worked as the Community Liaison in the artistic direction office of the documenta 14. As an activist she is very involved with self-organized initiatives in the area of migration, post-colonialism and anti-racism e.g. initiative 6th April and the tribunal dissolving NSU complex.

B a f t a lives in Berlin and is studying towards a Masters in Social Sciences. She is a member of the board of the Initiative of Black People in Germany (ISD federation). She predominantly addresses marxist theories of society, (anti) racism and migration politics.

Peggy Piesche, born and raised in the GDR, is a Black German litarary and cultural scientist and transcultural trainer for critical whiteness reflection in academia, politics and society. She has been part of the Black (German) movement and a co-woman of ADEFRA e.V. (Black Women in Germany) since 1990, and an executive board member of ASWAD (Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora) since 2016. Her research and teaching focus on the fields of Diaspora and Transcoloniality, Spatiality and Coloniality of Memories as well as Black Feminist Studies and Critical Race and Whiteness Studies.

Ceren Türkmen (born 1980 in Duisburg), is research associate at the Institute of Sociology at Justus-Liebig University in Gießen. She is a sociologist and works, writes and teaches on the history of labour migration in/to Germany, (historical) racism and political migration research, neomarxism & postcolonial criticism, urban sociology and research on capitalism. Since mid-1990s she is active in MSOs and is an NSB-member in the political sound-art-collective Ultra-red. www.uni-giessen.de

Images from the panellists

About the conferenceWhen I came to Germany

International Womenspace organised a two-day conference in Berlin in October 2017. There were six-panel discussions focusing on the experiences of women who came to West Germany as guest workers, to East Germany as contract workers, as migrants and refugees to the reunified Germany and of German women who are affected by racism.

The invited speakers talked about and compared their experiences of arriving and settling in Germany as well as working and organising as women here. We wanted to put the knowledge of multiple generations of migrants into a historical perspective, and create a space where we can exchange our individual and collective experiences in order to counteract false ideas of victimhood related to migrant women, whose voices are too often ignored in German society due to racism, xenophobia and sexism.

We wanted to counteract the mainstream narrative. We did not only focus on the problems that migrant and refugee women, as well as German women who are affected by racism, are constantly confronted with. We also highlighted the many and various forms of women’s resistance; in the workplace, in society and against institutional oppression.

It was a success! We were very moved and inspired by the response to the conference, both before, during and after. On each day, over 250 women came together, exchanged experiences about political fights and resistance in Germany, learned from the histories of different generations from both East, West and reunited Germany, got to know each other, and built networks. This was made possible, despite language barriers, thanks to running translation in six languages: German, English, Arabic, Farsi, Turkish & Vietnamese. There was an atmosphere of openness and solidarity, so both speakers and participants were able to talk freely about their personal experiences.

Feedback from participants showed that an event like this was very needed, and that there is a strong wish for continued exchange, political action and networking. We consider the conference a starting point and look forward to the next steps…

Photos of the conference | day 2