Three German documentary films released before the height of the arrival of mainly Syrian refugees in 2015/16 document the precarious lives of refugees in Germany and highlight the complex politics that underlie Germany's Willkommenskultur. Can't Be Silent follows the tour of musician Heinz Ratz, who performs with artists he met in refugee camps across Germany; Land in Sicht documents the journeys of three refugees applying for asylum in Germany; and Willkommen auf Deutsch illustrates the struggles of a rural district politician, of the inhabitants of a small town, and of selected refugee families as an increasing number of refugees are assigned to the area. A close reading of the films uncovers the tensions between depictions of precarity and Heimatlosigkeit on the one hand and a sense of defiant agency expressed by the refugee characters on the other hand. This insistence on maintaining a sense of sovereignty over their movements, on forming communities, and on staying in Germany offers glimpses into formations of global cohabitation that question racialized notions of national belonging.


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pp. 522-538
Launched on MUSE
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