© ZivDem

Authors' Workshop "Civil Search and Rescue in the Mediterranean" on March 7 & 8 2024 in Münster

On 7 and 8 March 2024, the authors' workshop "Civil Search and Rescue in the Mediterranean" took place in Münster. This Mini-Conference was organised by Lena Laube, Mareike Gebhardt and Maria Ullrich in preparation for the publication of an issue of the same title in the Journal for Critical Migration Research movements. The Issue will be published in summer 2025.

  • Detailed workshop report 

    As an introduction, Mareike Gebhardt presented her paper on democratic theory with the working title "Another Solidarity is Im-Possible: Saving (Black) Lives between Radical Democracy and Colonial Continuities". The programme continued with the contribution "Searching: Attending to a politics of neglect and extractivism through a migration drama in Zarzis" by Amade M'Charek (University of Amsterdam) and Khaled Tabbabi (FTDES). The third and final paper presentation of the first workshop day was given by Laila Riedmiller (FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg) under the german working title “Rettung als Ausdruck kultureller Selbstaufgabe? Zivile Seenotrettung als Feindbild der extremen Rechten”(“Rescue as an expression of cultural surrender? Civil sea rescue as an enemy of the extreme right”). The presentation of these three works in progress was followed by an academic-activist intervention by Maurice Stierl (University of Osnabrück) and a short report on a planned interview with a captain of the Italian coastguard by Paolo Cuttitta (Paris Sorbonne XIII) and Luca Queirolo Palmas (University of Genoa).

    The second day of the workshop continued with further interventions and workshop reports from the activist-academic spectrum: filmmaker Sarah Hüther gave an insight into her feminist documentary film project on female activism in the Mediterranean. Charlotte Weiß (Sea-Eye) presented the work of the so-called land crews. Going on, Khalid Abaker gave a presentation on his activist book project about his escape across the Mediterranean and Adrian Pourviseh showed the first sketches of a comic strip on civil sea rescue, which will also appear in the movements issue. Under the title "Handling Dead Bodies at Sea. Deathcare and Necropolitics in the Mediterranean Border Death Regime", Sarah Spasiano presented a part of her ongoing work of her ZivDem dissertation project. Concluding the workshop, Lena Laube and Maria Ullrich presented their planned contribution "What do the boats symbolise? A country comparison on rationales and motivations for supporting search and rescue activities on the high seas", in which they outlined preliminary results of the field research conducted by ZivDem 2023 in Germany, Spain and Italy.

  • Open ZivDem Research Colloquium | online

    The Open ZivDem Research Colloquium invites (prospective) scholars on migration and border politics in different stages of their academic careers. From an interdisciplinary perspective, we discuss the relationship between Search and Rescue Missions, border politics, and democracy.

    The research colloquium is a platform and extended network of ZivDem. It is open to interested researchers from different disciplines who want to present their works, BA or MA theses, or research projects and discuss literature together.

    You can view the program for the summer semester 2024 here. Registration for participation or the presentation of your research ideas and work is possible at any time under If required, individual sessions can also be held in English. The link to the respective Zoom meeting and possible reading texts will be sent by e-mail to all interested parties before the meeting.

  • Project activites

    Internship at Zivdem

    Nina Arndt (B.A.) has been working as an intern at ZivDem from ocotober 2023 until april 2024. As part of her internship, she analyzed documentary films on civilian sea rescue from a frame-analytical perspective.


    Fellowship with the research group "Internalizing Borders" at the ZiF in Bielefeld

    Since October 2023, Mareike Gebhardt is a fellow of the research group "Internalizing Borders: The Social and Normative Consequences of the European Border Regime" at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) at Bielefeld University. From February 2024, she is working there for six months as a fellow in residence with a scholarship on the topics of ZivDem's sub-project III. 

    Click here for the Webpage of the research group "Internalizing Borders" 



    © ZivDem
    © ZivDem

    Workshop: Social and Legal Sciences on the High Seas 

    On April 5 and 6, 2023, the workshop "Social and Legal Sciences on the High Seas" took place at the University of Münster in the Karl Bender Hall of the Juridicum. The workshop was hosted by the ZivDem research group, the Chair of Public International Law and International Human Rights Protection, and the Junior Professorship of Political Theory. The main purpose of the workshop was for the three teams to get to know each other and to identify common research interests and intersections in order to explore further collaboration. 

    The participants were Svenja Ahlhaus, Iman Al Nassre, Sebastian Benedikt, Fabian Endemann, Mareike Gebhardt, Lena Laube, Nora Markard, Eva Schmidt, Sarah Spasiano, Marlene Stiller, Pia Storff, and Maria Ullrich.






    FIW Lecture Series, Summer 2023 | Perspectives of Modernity. Conflicts about Borders and Mobility

    Social actors in different European places argue over Search and Rescue Missions in the Mediterranean Sea. Based on these conflicts, broader disputes crystallize in which the right to mobility and (the sovereignty over) borders of inclusion and exclusion are negotiated. According to the thesis of the research group ZivDem, the future shape of European democracy is thus up for discussion.

    With this lecture series, we look at Search and Rescue Missions in the central Mediterranean and situate them in general social and political negotiations about migration movements to Europe. For this purpose, we invited experts from different disciplines to discuss these topics at the University of Bonn in the summer semester of 2023. 

    Mareike Gebhardt opened the series on April 26, 2023 with her lecture "Un-Mögliche Solidarität: Zivile Seenotrettung als kommende Demokratie". A detailed program as well as recordings of further lectures by Prof. Nicole Doerr and Dr. Benjamin Etzold can be viewed here.

    © ZivDem

    Kick-off Events

    The ZivDem project was launched in the summer of 2022. Two events represented ZivDem’s kick-off:

    At the 28th International Conference of Europeanists CES “The Environment of Democracy,” on June 20-22, 2022, at the Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), Mareike Gebhardt, Lena Laube, and Maria Ullrich presented the research group’s initial preliminary assumptions in a panel on “Migrant Rights Activism and Legal Support: Contestation or Conformation?” (organized by Saskia Bonjour and Sonja Evaldsson Mellström, both University of Amsterdam).

    For its official kick-off, all members of ZivDem met on August 24, 2022, at FIW Bonn.

    Working meeting of the research group at FIW Bonn
    © ZivDem
  • Meetings and Conferences 

    May 16–17, 2024 | Symposium "Dimensionen einer vielfältigen Fluchtforschung: Diversität, Intersektionalität und heterogene Ankunftskontexte in urbanen und ruralen Räumen“ | University for Applied Sciences München 

    Presentation „Umstrittenes Trauern: Präsenz und Teilhabe auf Lampedusa" by Sarah Spasiano. 

    Click here for the webpage of the symposium. 

    December 13–15, 2023 | Workshop "Border Work and Authoritarian Transformation" | ZiF Bielefeld

    Mareike Gebhardt participated in the Workshop as part of her fellowship in the research group "Internalizing Borders: The Social and Normative Consequences of the European Border Regime" at ZiF (Center for Interdisciplinary Research, Bielefeld). Click here for the webpage of the wokshop. 

    November 1st, 2023 | Bremen Conversations on Global Solidarity | Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS) & online

    "Deconstructing Solidarity" Lecture by Mareike Gebhardt. 

    September 28, 2023 | International Congress "Political Theory in Times of Uncertainty" | University Bremen

    "To flee or not to flee: Crisis Narratives and Fugitive Subjectivities." Lecture by Mareike Gebhardt. 

    View the webpage of the event

    "Prekäre Subjektivierung. Kritische Perspektiven auf Semantiken der Krise." Panel with Mareike Gebhardt (Chair). 

    September 21, 2023 | 5. Kongress der deutschsprachigen Rechtssoziologie-Vereinigungen | Innsbruck

    "Beyond Borders and Citizenship: The Conceptual Potential of “Access” in Interdisciplinary Research on Forced Migration." Presented by Barbara von Rütte, Lena Laube und Maria Ullrich.

    September 15, 2023 | International Conference "Futuring Critical Theory, Institut für Sozialforschung | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main 

    "Deconstructing Solidarity: Towards a New Critical Theory of the Common." Lecture by Mareike Gebhardt. 

    View the webpage of the event 

    September 11–14, 2023 | Doctoral Colloquium "The Future of Democracy in Europe" | Villa Vigoni, Loveno di Menaggio

    Sarah Spasiano participated in the Four Nations Doctoral Colloquium (Germany, France, Italy and Poland). Click here for the webpage of the colloquium.

    September 4–8, 2023 | ECPR General Conference | Prague

    Mareike Gebhardt presented the paper "Beyond Contestation: SAR NGOs in the Mediterranean Border Assemblage", co-authored with Lena Laube and Maria Ullrich.

    View the webpage of the event

    July 3–6, 2023 | 20th IMISCOE Annual Conference | Warschau & online. 

    "Search and rescue in the Mediterranean and the struggle over European democracy." Presentation by Lena Laube and Maria Ullrich at the 20th IMISCOE Annual Conference" Migration und Ungleichheiten. Auf der Suche nach Antworten und Lösungen".

    March 23–24, 2023 | Meeting of the Working Group Democracy and Forced Migration of the German Network for Forced Migration Studies | Kiel University

    View the webpage of the working group 

    March 3, 2023 | German Sociological Association (DGS) | Bamberg.

    Joint conference on “Comparing Recent and Older Refugee Migration in and to Europe – Sociological Perspectives” of the DGS sections “Sociology of Europe” and “Migration and Ethnic Minorities.” Lena Laube and Maria Ullrich presented their work on “Search and rescue in the Mediterranean and the struggle over the reception of refugees in the EU.”

    February 15, 2023 | STS-MIGTEC Circle Event | online

    Mareike Gebhardt, Lena Laube, and Maria Ullrich presented their paper (work in progress) “Beyond Orchestration and Contestation: SAR NGOS in the Mediterranean Border Assemblage.”

    January 31, 2023 | FIW Bonn, online

    Lena Laube and Sarah Spasiano presented the outline of ZivDem’s sub-project II „Zivile Seenotrettung als Teil des mediterranen Grenzregimes. Eine juridico-politische Analyse europäischer Migrations- und Asylpolitik auf Hoher See.“

    View the webpage of the event

    September 28–30, 2022 | 4th Conference of the German Network for Forced Migration and Refugee Studies | TU Chemnitz

    The research group ZivDem presented a poster on their central thesis and research goals.

    View the poster

    Furthermore, Maria Ullrich and Mareike Gebhardt were discussants of the roundtable “Research on Forced Migration as Democracy Research,” which took place during the conference and was organized by the working group Democracy and Forced Migration.

    View the conference webpage

    June 20–22, 2022 | 28th International Conference "The Environment of Democracy" | Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

    Mareike Gebhardt, Lena Laube, and Maria Ullrich presented the first preliminary ideas of ZivDem at the Council for European Studies (CES) conference in a panel on “Migrant Rights Activism and Legal Support: Contestation or Conformation?” (organized by Saskia Bonjour and Sonja Evaldsson Mellström, both University of Amsterdam).

    View the conference webpage