My starting point
I started to explore the topics of migration, refugees, and asylum when I had occasion to provide advisory and counselling services to refugees and migrants in Marseille whilst carrying out my alternative national service by working for the French refugee and human rights organisation Cimade from 1999 to 2001. During that time, I interacted daily with individuals who had arrived in France from a diverse range of countries to seek protection and better life opportunities. I heard innumerable tales of reasons for fleeing the home country, of migration routes, hopes, and the reception conditions in various countries in Europe. My role included informing these individuals about the asylum process, assisting them with completing their asylum applications, and accompanying refugees on visits to public authorities and social services.
Gaining my degree and my doctorate
At the end of my time at the Cimade, I returned to my hometown, Berlin, where I enrolled at the Humboldt University of Berlin in a degree course in social sciences and economics, which I completed in 2006. During that time, I further extended and deepened my knowledge of the topics of forced migration and integration. My studies also included the topic of European integration, social and political theory, conflict theory, and the globalisation of employment. In 2004, I returned to France for an exchange year at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris. My time at the Sciences Po was characterised by intense debates regarding the future of the European Union, with a particular focus on questions of intra-EU mobility and solidarity. This focus also became the topic of my degree thesis.
From 2007 to 2014, I was enrolled as a doctoral student at the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences (BGSS) at the Humboldt University of Berlin and at the Franco-German Centre for Social Sciences research (CMB), also affiliated with the Humboldt University. My doctoral work focused on the development of transnational solidarity in trade unions in Europe. During that time, I completed an internship with Frank Sieren, the China correspondent, in Beijing in 2008, and I spent four months as a research fellow at the London School of Economics in 2010.
My professional career and development
Alongside my degree course and doctoral studies, I worked as an author and editor of the specialist newsletter, ‘Migration and Population’, from 2001 to 2015. This work enabled me to follow the political, media, and scientific discussions on migration both in Germany and abroad in an editorial capacity. From 2009 to 2013, I was project manager and managing editor of the newsletter, and I also started to write for other types of media at that time.
Toward the end of my doctoral degree, I participated in two research projects which investigated different aspects of European integration.
Since 2008, I have been working as a lecturer at the Humboldt University of Berlin, teaching subjects such as the sociology of Europeanisation, models of industrial relations, and migration policies. Since 2015, I regularly offer a course on European refugee policy.
In 2011 and 2012, I worked as an external advisor to the integration commissioner of the Berlin Senate in the context of the MIXITIES project, a European project on integration policy in large cities coordinated by Eurocities, a network of large cities in Europe. During my involvement in this project, I developed a tool for cities to evaluate their diversity policies. Moreover, I supported a group of European city representatives in implementing this tool during a peer review initiative in Barcelona.
From 2013 to 2015, I was a research associate with the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR), where I worked on several studies and expert reports. The focus of my work was to analyse German and European asylum policies, intra-EU migration, and the international migration behaviour of German citizens. I also contributed to the SVR’s annual expert report by writing draft chapters on irregular migration, integration policy, labour migration policy, and religious education in schools.
From November 2015 to June 2016, I worked as a consultant for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and compiled a study on the implementation of humanitarian admission programmes for Syrian refugees in Germany. To this end, I conducted and analysed qualitative interviews with Syrian refugees, local authorities, and NGOs, and I developed recommendations for actions.
Establishment as independent researcher and consultant
In 2016, I established myself as a freelance migration researcher and consultant. In this capacity, I work with numerous organisations, and I develop and write articles, studies, discussion papers, and expert reports. In addition, I give lectures, run workshops, and participate in panel discussions.
Since April 2017, I have been a member of the European research network MIGRATE (Jean Monnet Network). In particular, MIGRATE is investigating the impact of the extensive influx of migrants in 2015 and 2016 on various European societies and the European integration process overall. My role is to compile the German case study.
From April to November 2018, I was employed as a research associate at the Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies (IMIS) at the University of Osnabrück and the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC) to work on the project, ‘Forced Migration: Research and Transfer’. Working within a wider team, I developed a concept for expanding the scope of research on forced migration in Germany.
I am a board member of the Forced Migration Research Network and, with Ulrike Krause, I am joint managing editor of the Forced Migration Research blog.