October 6-8, 2017 | Self-Determined and in Solidarity! Conference on Migration, Development and Ecological Crisis

We would like to invite you to a big conference including many lectures and discussions, theatre, films and more. The conference is prepared by a mixed team of refugees, migrants and people without flight or migration experiences. Some are part of it as individuals, others are active in the following groups and networks: Afrique-Europe-Interact, Corasol (Berlin), Entwicklungspolitisches Netzwerk Sachsen e.V. , glokal e.V. – machtkritische Bildung und Beratung (Berlin) und Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie (Leipzig).



Most of our programme is already fixed. Some workshops are still mentioned with their working titles and we are still waiting for confirmation of some of our speakers.


From 3.00 pm Registration

4.00 pm: Open Introduction
Introductory Workshops, Theatre and Project Exchange

7.00 pm: Critical Perspectives on Migration, Development and Ecological Crisis – Opening Lectures with subsequent Fishbowl Discussion

  • Boniface Mabanza (Kirchliche Arbeitsstelle Südliches Afrika, KASA, Heidelberg)
  • Freweyni Habtemariam (Eritrean Initiative for Dialogue and Cooperation, Berlin)

9.30 pm: Theatre, Film and Discussion in Small Groups

09:30 – 11:00pm: Kick-off Podiums

a) Women’s Struggles for Self-Determined Development

  • Mercia Andrews (Trust for community outreach and education (TCOE), South Africa)
  • Dora Sandrine Ndedi (Aktivist, Berlin)
  • Nyima Jadama (Journalist, Freiburg)

b) Living at the Expense of Others: Capitalism, (Neo-)Colonialism and the Exploitation of Humans and Nature

  • Ulrich Brand (University if Vienna, Austria)
  • Lucía Muriel (Founding Member and Chairwoman of the Migrant Federal Association Migration, Development and Participation MEPa e.V., Berlin)

c) On the Topicality of Anti-Colonial (Development) Concepts

  • Ekanga Claude Wilfried (Blogger et author)
  • Hamado Dipama (Pan-Africanism Working Group, Munich)

d) Social Movement in Africa, Ecological Crisis and Alternatives to Development

  • Victor Nzuzi (Farmer and Activist, Afrique-Europe-Interact / La Via Campesina, DR Congo)

11.30 am – 7.00 pm: Workshops, Films and Networking meetings

8.00 pm – 8.30 pm: Theatre
“Eldorado – Europe”: Riadh Ben Ammar (Afrique-Europe-Interact/Theatre for Freedom of Movement)

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm: Podium Discussion: Criminalization of Migration and Marshall Plan with Africa – Contradiction or Two Sides of the Same Coin?

  • Alassane Dicko (Afrique-Europe-Interact, Mali)
  • Rex Osa (Refugee Activist, Stuttgart)
  • Napuli Paul Göhrlich (Refugee Activist, Berlin)

From 10.00 pm: Party, Concert, Dancing, Film


9.30 – 11.00 am:  World Cafe on the Key Questions of the Conference

11:30 – 13:00 Uhr What’s next? Conclusions after Two Days of Debate. Final Debate and Final Declaration

With input by Emmanuel Mbolela (Afrique-Europe-Interact, Netherlands) and Maria do Mar Castro Varela (Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences, Berlin – solicited)


Workshops of the Conference

1. Migration: On the Need to Leave

  • Staying or Leaving? Chances and Risks of Information Campaigns amongst Young People in African Countries
  • Circular Migration as Real Alternative to Deportation or “Voluntary” Departure
  • Stress as Basic Condition: Refugees between Isolation, Racism and Fear of Deportation
  • Raising Your Voice – Self-Organised Journals by and for Refugee and Migrant Women

2. Causes of Flight from a Decolonial Perspective

  • Agro-Industry contra Small-Scale Farming
  • Climate Change and Migration
  • Exploitation of Resources and Corrupt States (Congo, Niger and Mali)
  • Occidentalization: On the Identification of African Elites with Western Thinking and Strategies for Action
  • Ecocide in the Niger Delta: Flight and Migration as Consequence of Western Natural Resource Policies
  • Colonial Legacies: On the Dominance of Colonial Languages in the Education Systems of African Countries
  • On the Consequences of Neoliberal Trade Agreements between Africa and Europe
    Global Justice, Climate Change and Migration

3. Critique of Development & Alternatives to Development

  • Development Policy in or with Authoritarian Regimes – and Resistance. The Example of Ethiopia
  • How Migrants Contribute to Self-Determined Development from Below through Transfer of Money and Experience
  • The History of Inequality between North and South from the Post-Development Perspective
  • Alternatives to the Western Development Model in the Zapatista Movement
  • From Life at the Expense of Others to Global Solidarity
  • Ecological Agriculture and Freedom of Movement: The Artist Village Faso Kele in Guinea
  • Commercial Agriculture, Migrants and the Role of Unions. The Example of South Africa

4. Alliances and Cooperations: Together for Global Justice

  • Transnational Connections: The Work of Voix des Migrants in Europe and Cameroon
  • Reparations for Enslavement and Ecological Destruction – Experiences from the Carribean
  • On Dealing with Different Positions and Privileges in Transnational Cooperation. Experiences from the Work of Afrique-Europe-Interact
  • Diaspora meets Refugee Movement: Possibilities and Limits to Solidarity

Films & Exhibitions

There will be several small exhibitions in the welcome and lounge area of the conference.
Furthermore, we will show – amongst others – the following films:

God is not working on Sunday!, Rwanda 2015, 84 minutes
A film about the pulsating network of women-activists who in the fight for reconciliation and equal rights after the 1994 genocide have created new spaces for women. The entrance to this world is through the work of Godelieve and Florida – community organizers and powerful forces. The film reflects the women’s appeal to direct action at the individual and community levels. With the director Leona Goldstein.
Revolution with Bare Hands, Ouagadougou/Vienna 2015, 90 minutes
The film approaches protagonists of the 2014 revolution and visits emblematic symbolic places. It asks about reasons and motivations based in the living conditions of the population as well as in memories of foregone struggles during previous decades. Hans-Georg Eberl (who made the film together with Moussa Ouédraogo) will be present.

Kamerun – Autopsy of an independence, France 2008, 52 minutes
France’s dirty secret war against the independence movements in Cameroon. The filmmaker Richard Djif and the author Péguy Tadkou Ndie will present this film.

Concerning Violence, Sweden/USA/Denmark/Finland 2014, 85 minutes
Documentary on colonialism and wars of independence, based on the anti-colonial classic “The Wretched of the Earth” by Frantz Fanon.
The Man Who Stopped the Desert, 2013, 52 minutes
Yacouba Sawadogo is a farmer from Burkina Faso who has been successfully using a traditional farming technique called Zaï to restore soils damaged by desertification and drought.
Names of Speakers

Mercia Andrews (director of Trust for community outreach and education, South Africa), Riadh Ben Ammar (theatre producer, AEI, Berlin), Olaf Bernau (AEI, Bremen), Daniel Bendix (glokal, Berlin), Ulrich Brand (University of Vienna, Austria), Julia Daiber (AEI, Bremen), Tahir Della (Initiative Black People in Germany, ISD / glokal), Abbas Diallo (AEI, Magdeburg), Alassane Dicko (AEI, Mali), Hamado Dipama (Pan-Africanism Working Group, Munich), Peter Donatus (Environmental and human rights activist, Cologne ), Stephan Dünnwald (Bavarian Refugee Council, Munich), Richard Djif (filmmaker, AEI, Berlin), Carina Flores (Development Network Sachsen, Leipzig), Dorette Führer (AEI, Bremen), Geraud Potago (NoStress-Tour), Hans-Georg Eberl (AEI, Wien), Gustavo Estava (post-development activist, Mexico), Julia Friese (AEI, Guinea), Patterson Geraune (activist, Corasol, Berlin), Conni Gunnßer (Refugee Council Hamburg), Miriam Gutekunst (Laboratory for New Economic Ideas, Leipzig), Leona Goldstein (filmmaker, Berlin), Nyima Jadama (journalist, Freiburg), Gbassycolo Konaté (Faso Kele, Guinea), Lydia Lierke (Laboratory for New Economic Ideas, Halle), Boniface Mabanza (Kirchliche Arbeitsstelle Südliches Afrika, KASA, Heidelberg), Manuela Matthes (Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Berlin), Emmanuel Mbolela (AEI and ARCOM, Netherlands), various Activists (Corasol, Berlin), Ermyas Mulugeta (political scientist, Potsdam), Franziska Müller, University of Kassel / kassel postkolonial), Lucía Muriel (Federal Association Migration, Development and Participation, Berlin), Dora Sandrine Ndedi (activist, Berlin), Péguy Tadkou Ndie (author, AEI, Berlin), Victor Nzuzi (La Via Campesina, Democratic Republic of Congo), Rex Osa (refugee activist, Stuttgart), Carolina Tamayo Rojas (Bielefeld), Miguel Ruiz (Development Network Sachsen, Leipzig), Matthias Schmelzer (Laboratory for New Economic Ideas, Berlin), Trésor (Voix des Migrants, Berlin), Miriam Trzeciak (Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus), Ekanga Claude Wilfried (author, Frankfurt), Darik Yonkeu (NoStress-Tour, Berlin), Aram Ziai, University of Kassel / kassel postkolonial … AND FURTHER SPEAKERS ….



*Languages:* All podiums and workshops will be translated into three languages (German, French and English) – further languages will have to be self-organized according to need. Those who would like to support our translation team or who are available for replacement (or for simultaneous or consecutive translation), please get in touch with us.

*Venue of Conference:* The conference takes place at the Westbad in Leipzig (inner city area): Odermannstr. 15, 04177 Leipzig

*Catering:* During the conference there will be vegan food for donations (Kitchen for All)

*Participation Fees and Travel Costs:* Self-determined conference fee (0-60 Euro). Everyone can take part in the conference. Therefore, we want cover the travel expenses of those who cannot afford to pay (please use cheap ways of traveling, early booking, Quer-durchs-Land ticket, ride shares etc.). To make this possible, we ask for a participation fee from all those who can afford (20 to 60 Euro – depending on your situation).

*Accommodation:* For all those who do not have a place to stay in Leipzig we are going to organize one.


Appeal for the conference (written by Afrique-Europe-Interact)

Towards Decolonization

Since the summer of 2015, when refugees temporarily turned the world of the European border regime upside down, the consideration of the causes of flight has become a long runner in the European public, especially concerning the news about African countries. That way, the European governments hope, they can considerably reduce the number of newly arriving refugees.

By means of billion-euro-programs like the “Marshallplan with Africa” or the recently passed “Compact with Africa” private investments coming from the rich countries are planned to be sponsored. Only like this, so they say, growth impulses could be created which on the long run would lead to an economic recovery and finally to new jobs in Africa. At the same time the European Union is working on a foreward displacement of its border regimes. And doing so it doesn‘t stop at a cooperation with dictatorships like the ones in Sudan or Eritrea or at working together with the Libyan coast guards, even if no other than the German foreign minister describes the situation in the Libyan reception camps as sheer horror.

But not only the acceptance of extremely severe human rights violations is a scandal. It is just as dramatic that the planned strategies of development will serve the multinational corporations and their profit interests instead of supporting the wellbeing of the countries which were actually the matter of concern. Keeping in mind that we want to connect different topics and questions at the conference three aspects are considered above others:

Firstly, the disastrous social, economic, and political conditions in the Global South are the result of relationships characterized by dominance and exploitation, deeply rooted in colonialism including the installation or protection of regimes oriented to the “west”. Any talk about development has to face this complex heritage, a simple keep-it-up forbids itself.

Secondly, it is misleading to present migration and development as opposed to each other, as it is usually done by politicians. On the contrary refugees and migrants (with fluid transitions between the two groups) contribute significantly to the development of their native societies by transfering money to their families and friends on a regular basis. Whenever this is blocked by repressive migration policy there is a danger of massive financial bottlenecks concerning nutrition, health care and education as the money transfers are usually used for these matters.

Thirdly, the world is struck by different ecological crises, especially concerning climate, soil quality, water and biodiversity. Unchained economical growth, now also in the Global South, can not be a solution at all. We need completely different discussions, above all about the question of what we understand by self-determined development. In this respect the conference shall be a place to put forward a whole range of questions:

  • What are the reasons for refugees and migrants to leave their countries? Key words: “We are here because you destroy our countries.”
  • What do we mean if we are demanding the right to a self-determined development? Is it all about the satisfaction of basic needs or do we have further reaching concepts for the changing of whole societies? Does it even make sense to talk about “development” or should we use different terms?
  • Which alternative concepts and strategies already exist besides the dominant western model of development? What can we learn from concepts like “Food Sovereignty”, “Buen Vivir”, “Climate Justice”, “Degrowth” or “Post-Development”.
  • In which fields do we need changes on the global, national and local level, so that something like a self-determined development can become possible?
  • How can migrants and refugees in Europe – or all the Diaspora communities together – politically, financially, and socially support alternative grass-root ways of development in their home countries, also within the framework of circular migration? And how can people who haven‘t made the experience of flight or migration get and stay involved?
  • In which direction do the rich countries and their transnational consumer classes in the North and the South have to develop if the final ecological (climate-) collapse is to be prevented? Or more precisely: In which way do the economies of the rich industrialized countries have to shrink or to be replaced by alternative models of production and consumption, so that the people whose countries in the Global South have been impoverished for centuries will finally get some air to breathe to get on the path of a self-determined development?

Finally: Our conference has the title “self-determined and in solidarity”. On the one hand we want to contradict to an attitude which understands development only as a copy of western capitalist modernization. On the other hand we want to point out that global solidarity is a prerequisite of a development process which is consequently oriented towards the real needs of the people – in the spirit of the liberation theorist Frantz Fanon (1925 – 1961) from Martinique who in his famous book “The Wretched of the Earth” described the process of decolonization as self empowerment: “Decolonization never goes unnoticed, for it focuses on and fundamentally alters being, and transforms the spectator crushed to a nonessential state into a privileged actor, captured in a virtually grandiose fashion by the spotlight of History. It infuses a new rhythm, specific to a new generation of men, with a new language and a new humanity.”

Alternative Concepts of Development

“Development” has always been one of the most multi-faceted if not most controversial terms in the political north-south-debate. Some believe it to be indispensable while others disapprove of the term. We ourselves have chosen to use it with the addition “self-determined”. Therefore at the conference different concepts of development will play an important role, taking into account some of the recent historical positions:

During the first two decades after the Second World War 50 former colonies gained independence, among them India in 1947, Indonesia in 1949 and 17 African countries in 1960. At first the enthusiasm was enormous, many of the countries wanted to catch up with the technical lead of the industrial countries by means of an industrialization at rapid speed. The optimism seemed to have no limits which can be heard in the speech of the first president of the independent state of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah: “I believe strongly and sincerely that with the deep-rooted wisdom and dignity, the innate respect for human lives, the intense humanity that is our heritage, the African race, united under one federal government, will emerge not as just another world bloc to flaunt its wealth and strength, but as a Great Power whose greatness is indestructible because it is built not on fear, envy and suspicion, nor won at the expense of others, but founded on hope, trust, friendship and directed to the good of all mankind.”

At the same time the Dependancy Theory was gradually developed, pre-eminantly rooted in Latin America. This theory considers the state of the society of a poor country not as a result of internal deficits in education or democracy but of their asymmetric integration into the world market. Matching to this theory the author Eduardo Galeano from Uruguay wrote “Open Veins of Latin America”. In this book, published in 1971, he discusses old and new colonialisms. Only one year later the panafrican historian Walter Rodney (1942 – 1980) from Guyana published “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”, another book of enormous importance.

Since the 1970s protagonists of the development policy scene advocated approaches which didn‘t doubt the brutal constraints of the capitalist world market but neverthelss stuck to the conventional idea of development: For instance, the geographer Theo Rauch defines the development of a society “as a process of a growing ability of that society to find context-related and self-determined solutions to its problems and is furthermore able to forsee and avoid problems in the future. Hereby the satisfaction of universally acknowledged basic needs (material and non-material) should be taken as a criterion when identifying the problem.

Another approach which gained a broad recognition was the Capability Approach by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum. It was not only acknowledged by the World Bank but also by groups of grassroots activists. In this approach poverty was not to be defined by the income but as a denied access to the basic abilities to cope with everyday life‘s challenges. The blockade of these abilities through illness, malnutrition, and the lack of access to knowedge was therefore seen as the core of the poverty problem.

Since the 1980s post-development players entered the scene. They criticized that the colonial project of “Civilizing the Uncivilized” had only been replaced by the technocratic “Development of the Underdeveloped” during the post-war period and that alternative social models of society had not been seen as equal possibilities to organize communities. This post-development approach therefore wanted an orientation towards values like hospitality, dignity, and solidarity rather than measuring the quality of life by the number of goods a person or a community is able to buy. The protagonists of the post-development approach have a lot in common with the concept of Buen Vivir which has developed out of indigenous and feminist grassroots movements and for which the protection of ecological recources is one of the central matters. Accordingly concepts of food sovereignty or perspectives of the Indian Adivasi movement play an important role within the current discourse.