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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Felix Ringel

Ringel, Felix (2018). On expectations in the aftermath of the ‘refugee crisis’ Ethnographic prospects from a post-industrial German city. Anthropology Today 34(3): 26-28.

Author(s) from Durham


At the height of the ‘refugee crisis’ in Europe, right‐wing critics challenged refugees’ rights to asylum. One of the ways they did this was by predicting chaotic, doom‐laden futures. In reality, nobody – neither the communities hosting the refugees, nor the refugees themselves – knew what the post‐crisis future would bring. Anthropologists are in a position to consider that future ethnographically. This article discusses the emerging future expectations of one Afghan family in the German post‐industrial city of Bremerhaven. It attends to the local production of representations of the future during the aftermath of the crisis. The author uses this material to literally look ahead with ethnography and to thereby intervene in the broader context of the politics of expectations. He argues that the earlier we anthropologists can provide detailed accounts of how the future is starting to take shape in our fieldsites, the more efficiently we can stop further fearmongering and the deprivation of human rights. These ‘ethnographic prospects’ may allow us to ask different questions and offer different imaginations of the future.