Jakob Bierwagen

KU Eichstätt-Ingolstadt

Am Marktplatz 2

85072 Eichstätt

Jakob Bierwagen is a fellow of the training group since April 2024 specialized in Practice Theory and Process-Oriented Sociology. Following his bachelor’s degree in ‘Politics and Society’ he also earned his master’s degree in Sociology at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt examining evaluation practices of football-scouts and video-analysts as part of his engagement in the DFG research-project ‘Accounting and Transformative-Effects in Professional Football’ under the direction of Prof. Dr. Schmidt. Drawing from an interdisciplinary background in political science and philosophy, his studies allowed him to apply his training in ethnography and qualitative research to a variety of social phenomena including a focused-ethnography of the Görlitzer Park as a terrain of conflicting practices of space-taking and a focal point of the German discourse on unauthorized migration and drug-related crime. Jakob Bierwagen has worked both within the faculty of Sociological Theory and Process-Oriented Sociology, taking on consecutive teaching assignments as well as participating in the ethnographical colloquium under the direction of Prof. Dr. Robert Schmidt and Prof. Dr. Angelika Treiber.

Taking Place - migration and the contestation of bounded space at the German-Polish border

In September of 2023 different aspects of the German discourse on irregular migration were localized in the southern border region of Brandenburg, in discussions about stationary border controls near Frankfurt/Oder and Roggosen as a viable and potentially generalizable solution to the increased influx of migrants via the new Western Balkan Route. While these crossings have not (yet) developed the same symbolic power as the chaotic scenes on Lampedusa or the infamous ‘Jungle of Callais’, the developments at the German-Polish border, because of their diffuse locality, allow for a new perspective on the agency of migrants contesting bounded space through their involvement in practices such as capture, appropriation, participation and exclusion of or from specific places and spaces. On this basis my dissertation ‘Taking Place – migration and the contestation of bounded space at the German-Polish border’ investigates spatial-political practices of unauthorized migrants along the so called New Western Balcan Route, contrasting them with those of ‘locals’, authorities, social workers etc., while relating them to the border regimes they challenge and are challenged by. Conceptualizing and empirically engaging with processes of forced migration as taking place, not only stresses their spatial/temporal nature, but also recognizes the political agency of refugees and dislocated people quite literally taking places even under, or rather in light of the adverse circumstances that characterize their movement, containment, and expulsion. Grounding my empirical-theoretical framework in relating Doreen Massey’s nexus of space/time to Chantall Mouffe’s agonistic understanding of society, the German-Polish borderlands are understood as a terrain of conflict continually shaped and reshaped by conflicting strategies of taking place(s) contesting hegemonic narratives of globalization and modernization, while also complicating the identity between culture and specific places/spaces. Place is thus understood as meeting place not only of practices and people, but also the stories and histories they intertwine with. While specialized in practice theory and process-oriented sociology my project seeks to combine perspectives from both critical geography and political theory, furthering our understanding of how place/space is practiced through movement and its containment, while taking into how these practices may be considered expressions of what Mouffe and Laclau conceptualize as the political. While placing my PhD project in the intersecting fields of refugee and forced migration studies, I wish to contribute to the body of recent scholarship focused on migrants’ autonomy, assemblages and struggles across the so-called Western Balcan route.