Non-Citizens Protests in Germany since the 1980s


  • Maria Alexopoulou



migration history, migrant agency, racism, political rights, migrant protest, civil rights movement, Germany, twentieth century, twenty-first century


This article focuses on three specific episodes of non-citizen protests in the Federal Republic of Germany. The common characteristic of these protests, fought out by different groups in different contexts and at different times, was a “claim to the political,” which were made visible through a demonstration of a precarious civil rights status. Embedded in a long history of racial knowledge about the German and its Other, these migrant protests indicate how essential “performative forms of power” are for individuals and groups without the specific political rights that remain the prerogative of nation-bound citizens. Special attention is paid to transgressions that delegitimized these non-citizen protests even in the eyes of some of their supporters and to actions that are considered illegal by established law, and are thus classified as unwelcome. Instead of providing a closed narrative or recounting the history of migrant protests, the goal here is to add more pieces to the unwritten history of the (ongoing) migrant civil rights movement in Germany.