Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Decolonial Perspectives on Charitable Spaces of “Welcome Culture” in Germany

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Abstract:  This article focusses on the relationships between volunteers and refugees in the German “welcome culture”. I highlight the continuities between historical and colonial notions of feminine charity and contemporary volunteering efforts in support of refugees in Germany. The “welcome culture” is conceived here as a charitable space that is historically sedimented by specific understandings of gender, racial and class difference. In particular, the difference between the modern emancipated female volunteer and the female oppressed refugee plays a central role. The question of female self-determination, then, becomes an important social arena in the German “welcome culture”, through which the rate and terms of participation of refugees in social life are negotiated. Thus I draw on decolonial thought as well as theoretical insights from post-development scholarship and critical studies of humanitarianism in order to consider the multitemporal and transnational character of current “welcome culture” as well as to gain a better understanding of the entailed power relations. These are more contingent than might first appear. Presenting findings from my ongoing fieldwork I conclude that the notion of “welcome culture” allows for the emergence of new forms of sociality.

Keywords:  colonial difference; decolonial approaches; feminine charity; refugees; volunteer; welcome culture



© Katherine Braun. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.