Université de Strasbourg

Ursula Apitzsch


Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main, Germany & USIAS Fellow, European Dynamics (DynamE), University of Strasbourg

Ursula Apitzsch, USIAS Fellow 2017

Ursula Apitzsch is since 1993 Full Professor of Political Science and Sociology at Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main, and since October 2016 Senior Professor in the field of the History of Political Ideas. She is member of the Board of Directors of the Frankfurt Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies. From 2000-2002 she was Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Since 1998 she is a board member of the Research Committee “Biography and Society” of the International Sociological Association.

She has published broadly in the fields of the history of ideas, culture, migration, and biographical policy-analysis. She has excellent experience in empirical social research - with special regard to qualitative methods - and has been the leading researcher in several European research projects on different generations of migrant groups, directed in co-operation with the Frankfurt Institute of Social Research and ten European universities. She also published on problems of cross-national policy evaluation; politics of ethnicity; migrants’ self-employment; and on biographical analysis with special regard to gender, migration and citizenship.

 List of publications

Project - Biographical achievements and negotiations of belongings among the descendants of immigrant families

A qualitative comparative study on the impact of policies in two generations in the metropolitan areas of Strasbourg and Frankfurt am Main

May 2017 - April 2019

(extended until December 2019)

Exclusion and renewed negotiations for belonging among the younger generations of migrants have triggered an overall social transformation in the political, social and cultural spheres. Its analytic understanding requires new definitions of, or at least revisions to existing concepts in order to account for the social and cultural on-going crises in experiences, claims for equality of rights, participation in - and feeling of “ownership” of – civic society processes. In this study, identity formation will be conceptualised as the outcome of biographical processes and negotiations of belonging. Identity formation is understood as a dynamic and relatively flexible component of multiple and hybrid relations of ethnicity, nationality and culture in the context of inter-generational family dynamics. This study will try to answer how belonging is constituted, who participates in its construction, and what strategies, policies and politics have been developed in relation to its formation as a relational and dynamic process.

The project will follow immigrants’ children’s life courses in order to examine to which extent and at what costs the aims of family migration and the expectations of belonging to the society of arrival were reached. The aim of this comparative research project in the metropolitan areas of Strasbourg/Alsace and Frankfurt/Main is to understand the dynamics of belonging and exclusion among descendants of migrants in France and Germany by conducting biographical research on two migrant generations. We aim to increase knowledge of intergenerational relationships, gender relations, transformation and crisis among the younger generations. The study will also reveal the effects of social policies on individual life courses. We will identify and compare those public policies that have more or less fostered integration and a sense of both recognition and belonging, by using the method of biographical policy evaluation, developed by Professor Apitzsch in former EU projects in several European countries. The project will focus on three thematic areas: school achievement, especially policies to foster language learning; marriage strategies; and professional achievement, also through the creation of “ethnic” business. Our research will perform and analyse biographical interviews with parents and their adult children between 18 and 28 years, female and male, in a theoretically built up sample of families on each side. Parents and children will be interviewed at length, following a ‘biography’ protocol that will leave them ample space to express their own views, and to comment on public policies of which they had some direct experience, or whose absence they experienced as an unfulfilled need. The data collected and analyzed in this USIAS research project will be included in the MIGREVAL database and thus made available to all researchers who access to it.

Professor Lena Inowlocki (Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main) and Professor Catherine Delcroix (University of Strasbourg) are collaborating with Professor Apitzsch on this project.


Post-doc biography - Elise Pape

European Dynamics (DynamE), University of Strasbourg

Elise Pape

Elise Pape holds a PhD in sociology since 2012. Her doctoral work was carried out under cotutelle (binational PhD) under the supervision of Professor Catherine Delcroix (University of Strasbourg) and Professor Helma Lutz (Goethe-University Frankfurt). It dealt with the question of intergenerational transmission in families of Moroccan origin in France and Germany.

From 2012 to 2014, Elise Pape was assistant lecturer at the University of Strasbourg. From 2014-2016, she was a fellow at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) for her postdoctoral research “Entangled Memories: A Crossed Analysis of (Post)colonial memories in Cameroon, France and Germany” before working on the French-German ANR/DFG project “‘Histoire croisée’ of ethnology in Germany and France at the beginning of the 20th century” (EHESS/Goethe-University Frankfurt) directed by Jean-Louis Georget and Richard Kuba. Since 2017, she is a postdoctoral researcher in the project “Migreval” and participates in the research directed by Ursula Apitzsch, Daniel Bertaux, Catherine Delcroix et Lena Inowlocki on the biographical evaluation of policies for migrants in Strasbourg and Frankfurt.

For the USIAS project, she works more specifically on the policies of the town of Strasbourg that affect migrants, and intergenerational transmission in families who have migrated to Strasbourg and Frankfurt since the 1960s for reasons related to work, family reunification or asylum. She has participated in the creation of a qualitative database – almost non-existent in France and Germany - with limited access that became a pilot project of the University of Strasbourg in 2015. In February 2019, it contained over 200 interviews, principally with migrants but also with professionals, politicians or members of the civil society working in the field of migration and integration in Strasbourg and Frankfurt.

Post-doc biography - Christoph H. Schwarz

European Dynamics (DynamE), University of Strasbourg

Christoph Schwarz, USIAS post-doc

Dr. Christoph H. Schwarz holds a PhD in sociology from Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main, an M.A. in sociology/pedagogics, and a 1st state exam as a high school teacher in Spanish/civics. In his PhD, which was funded by a scholarship from the Hans Böckler foundation, he focused on adolescence and processes of intergenerational transmission in a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank.

In 2013 he joined the Department of Social Work and Health at the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences as research and project coordinator, managing a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)-funded academic exchange program with the University Ibn Zohr, Agadir.

In 2014 he joined the Research Network ReConfigurations at Philipps University of Marburg as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies (CNMS). His current research looks into the moral economy of political activism and intergenerational relations in social movements in Morocco and Spain. Based on a life story approach, this project reconstructs the biographical processes that motivate political engagement, as well as the intergenerational transmission of collective memory, respective historical narratives of social justice and political legitimacy implied therein, and their re-interpretation in the process of transmission.

Since 2008 Christoph Schwarz has been contributing to the French-German research network established by Catherine Delcroix, Daniel Bertaux (both from the University of Strasbourg), Ursula Apitzsch and Lena Inowlocki (both based at Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main). One important result of this collaborative work is MIGREVAL, a pilot project of the University of Strasbourg, which aims to create a database of life stories for the purpose of a biographical policy evaluation of migration politics in France and Germany. During his stay at Strasbourg University (March to July 2018) he will conduct research in the framework of this project, in particular by looking into the experiences of the Moroccan diaspora and Syrian refugees in France and Germany.

Post-doc biography - Dieudonné Kobanda Ngbenza

European Dynamics (DynamE), University of Strasbourg

Dieudonné Kobanda Ngbenza, USIAS post-doc 2017

Dieudonné Kobanda Ngbenza, Doctor in sociology, graduated from the University of Strasbourg and is a lecturer and researcher in the European Dynamics (DynamE) research unit.

His doctoral thesis "The life course of isolated foreign children in France: contexts and Situations" was awarded in 2014 with top honours and conducted under the supervision of Professor Catherine Delcroix (University of Strasbourg). The research for the thesis, carried out mainly in Strasbourg and in the Paris region, was supplemented by a field study in Belgium. Over a time span of nearly five years, the survey mobilized 252 unaccompanied foreign minors of 42 nationalities. By tracing their passage through the administrative institutions, the thesis analysed the profile of these young migrants as well as the positive and negative aspects of their care in a host society in the process of legislative, institutional and societal change. One the one hand, the study reconstructed, questioned and analysed the issues pertaining to the route of the minors and building of a new life and, on the other, identified the challenges for the social and institutional actors accompanying them.

Dr. Kobanda's book, entitled "Enfants isolés étrangers. Une vie et un parcours faits d’obstacles" was published by L'Harmattan, collection "Logics sociales", in April 2016.

He worked on the USIAS project as post-doc from May 2017 to February 2018.


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