Postcolonising Degrowth: Refugee Activism in Germany and the Critique of Global Inequality
The slogan “We are here because you destroy our countries” has been voiced by refugee activists in Germany for about twenty years. It acknowledges the connection between colonialism, neocolonialism, ‘development’, and migration.
Discussions on the coloniality of development as evident in the Post-Development school have focused on the South and made global inequalities a central framework of analysis. Degrowth in contrast mainly focuses on the North, has been accused of disregarding global interconnectedness, and so far has not accounted for the Global South in the North, namely refugees.
By addressing the question of whether and if so, how, refugee protests present alternatives to ‘development’ or reproduce dominant notions of development, this paper contributes to a theory of how to fight global inequality and achieve a ‘good life’ for all in a non-Eurocentric and non-authoritarian manner. The focus is on migrants from Africa who have fled their countries of origin for economic reasons: Having left behind a place for reasons that may be seen as linked to ‘development’ and politically active in Germany, they provide a particular perspective on global as well as intra-societal inequalities in the North.
Theoretically, this paper draws on Post-Development, social movement studies, critiques of Northern epistemology, and border knowledge. Sources include interviews with non-citizen and citizen activists of refugee struggles in Germany as well as publications, websites, flyers and video footage of refugee activism.