The Middle-Eastern diasporic community in Germany (estimated as numbering close to one million immigrants coming mostly from Syria and Iraq) is often mentioned by decision makers in the contexts of humanitarian concerns or radicalisation threats. Nevertheless, this community also constitutes a unique and untapped hub of knowledge about the social challenges and political dynamics shaping the Middle East. Within this community, we find unmitigated sources of knowledge in the form of social scientists, journalists and former officials which served in different governmental and institutional capacities in their home countries. Nevertheless, the voices and insights of these expert members of the Middle-Eastern diaspora are absent from the discussion regarding European policy on the Middle-East. EU foreign policy regarding the conflicts in Syria and Iraq is being formulated without the important contribution of those who are bound to be affected most by its implications.
The course offers students the opportunity to take an active role in policy projects aimed at promoting the ME diaspora as a policy resource. The focus of the course will be on the diverse community of the Syrian diaspora in Berlin. Students will be divided to three groups and incorporated into three ongoing projects currently under progress at the Berlin-based IMPACT - Civil Society Research and Development. The conceptual thread connecting these projects together is Plato’s concept of “Techne” – hence the attempt to use local knowledge – knowledge which is based on unmitigated friction with reality – as a resource for policy making.