Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin, 2022
Serie: ZMO Working Papers 31
This working paper traces the trajectory of Syrian official documents across Syria and Germany in times of political upheaval, flight and integration. Documents issued by the Syrian state continue to be a fundamental element in the life of Syrians in Germany as they are still needed for certain mundane, yet crucial, purposes. Syrians are therefore forced to engage with Syrian state bureaucratic apparatuses at a distance. The journey of the papers across time and geographical borders unveils the highly political ambivalences and tensions embodied in Syrian paperwork in the context of German policies of asylum and integration. In Syria, the documents and their retrieval are embedded in the politics of security governing the Syrian citizenship regime. On arrival in Germany, the papers gain new meanings in their encounter with the German integration process and legal system rooted in the Rule of Law. At the same time, the papers’ enmeshment with German bureaucracy reproduces (from a distance) the political dynamics between Syrians and the Syrian state in the past. Situated at a crossroads of the web of state(-s) power in and between Syrian and German bureaucracies, the papers re-integrate Syrians’ past into their present in Germany. By revealing this complex web of relationships, this working paper offers a reflection on the limits of studying the European context of integration and asylum ‘from within’.