Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies

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Karl Heyer, Foto: privat

Karl Heyer, M.Sc.

Karl Heyer

Since 2017 PhD candidate at IMIS; 2017-2020 member oft he graduate programme "Migrationsgesellschaftliche Grenzformationen" ("Boundary formations in migration societies"); 2016: research assistant at the Geographical Insitute, University of Göttingen; 2011-2014: M.Sc. Geography, University of Göttingen; member of kritnet (Network for Critical Migration and Border Regime Research).


PhD project

Ambiguous policy, uneven implementation, discretionary practices. A situated analysis of fragmented spatio-legal bordering dynamics in the post-2015 European border and migration regime on Sicily

My interdisciplinary (social geography and cultural anthropology) PhD project explores the nexus of ambiguous policies, their uneven implementation and discretionary practices as bordering devices for the context of contemporary migration governance in Europe. Employing a situated approach from the perspective of everyday experiences of migrants and their supporters vis-à-vis the multi-scalar web of legal, operational and individual incarnations of migration governance in Palermo, Sicily, it traces how legal, practical and localised socio-cultural knowledge about migration is produced and enacted, and how this shapes contemporary bordering dynamics in Palermo and beyond. Building on ethnographic research and interviews conducted in Sicily, it thus contributes to current debates in border and migration studies with empirical, methodological and theoretical analyses of the co-constitutive relationship between ambiguity and local discretionary practices on the one hand, and to the ongoing spatio-legal fragmentation of the EUropean Migration and Border Regime on the other.


Prof. Dr. Andreas Pott, Prof. Dr. Sabine Hess (University of Göttingen)

Selected publications
  • Heyer, K. (forthcoming). Keeping Migrants at the Margins. Governing through ambiguity and The politics of discretion in the post-2015 EUropean Migration and Border regime. Political Geography
  • Hänsel, V., Heyer, K., Schmidt-Sembdner, M., & Schwarz, N. V. (Ed.) (2022). Von Moria bis Hanau - Brutalisierung und Widerstand. Grenzregime IV. Berlin, Hamburg: Assoziation A.
  • Heyer, K. (2022). Ein Blick aus Palermo: Lokale Aushandlungen um restriktive Migrationspolitiken und die Fragmentierung des Grenzregimes seit 2015. In Von Moria bis Hanau - Brutalisierung und Widerstand. Grenzregime IV (pp. 296–314). Berlin, Hamburg: Assoziation A.
  • Heyer, K. (2021). Grenzen überwinden! Ein anarchistischer Blick auf Grenzen und Migration. In germaine f. spoerri & F. Stenglein (Eds.), anarchistische geographien. Beiträge zu den Radical Geographies (pp. 119–138). Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot.
  • kollektiv orangotango+. (2018). This Is Not an Atlas. A Global Collection of Counter-Cartographies. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag.
Selected Conference Contributions
  • Everyday struggles around migrants' arrival and legal trajectories in Palermo vis-à-vis the structural disorder of Europe's Border Regime in South Italy. August 2021, Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference, London. Session: "The Disorders of Bordering", chaired by Prof. Kathryn Cassidy & Dr. Jacob Miller (Northumbria University)
  • Organised Disorder? Tracing Ambiguity, Incoherence & Discretion in the Governance of Migrants’ Arrival and Reception in South Italy. February 2020: Border Matters. The Formation of Boundaries in Migration Societies and the Responsibility of Scholarship, Oldenburg. Concluding conference of the PhD program "Boundary Formations in Migration Societies"
  • Function through failure? Ambiguität, Inkohärenz und Willkür in der Ankunft und Unterbringung von Migrant_innen in Süditalien. September 2019: Deutscher Kongress für Geographie, Kiel. Session: "Geographien der Grenze – Oder: Wie findet Grenze statt?", chaired by Dr. Christian Wille (University of Luxembourg) & Julian Hollstegge (University of Bayreuth)
Selected Teaching
  • Summer term 2022: Legal grey zones, differential deprivation of rights, and spatial fragmentation – A legal anthropology view on strategies of "migration management" in Europe. Institute of Cultural Anthropology/European Ethnology, University of Göttingen. Co-taught with Valeria Hänsel (University of Göttingen)
  • Summer term 2021: The European border regime in Southern Europe after the Long Summer of Migration. Institute of Cultural Anthropology/European Ethnology, University of Göttingen. Co-taught with Valeria Hänsel (University of Göttingen)
  • Summer term 2019: Theoretical and practical introduction to Critical Cartography. Department of Social Sciences (FB8), University of Bremen