Seminar: ‘Let the state decide it all for me’. Subjective experiences of Ukrainian refugee women dealing with integration-related bureaucracy in Germany

Society and economy

Welcome to the Public Seminar. During the seminar, Valeria Lazarenko, will present her research with the title "‘Let the state decide it all for me’. Subjective experiences of Ukrainian refugee women dealing with integration-related bureaucracy in Germany".

4 Oct 2023
13:15 - 15:00
Room F417, entrance via Skanstorget 18, Gothenburg

Presenter: Valeria Lazarenko, Georg-Simmel Zenter for Metropolitan Studies (Humboldt University, Berlin)
Chair: Åsa Wettergren

Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, around seven million people have fled the country. From them, more than a million arrived to Germany where the majority received temporary protection status (aka „§24”).

From the perspective of German state, Ukrainian refugees are seen as those having high capacity to integrate into the society and contribute to the job market as skilled workers. However, the procedures and ideas of integration might be experienced differently by the beneficiaries.  Moreover, the need to get through numerous bureaucratic instances can be a crucial factor in making decision of staying in Germany, move to other countries, or return to Ukraine. While some of the refugees put responsibility on decision-making onto the state, others oppose the idea of ‘being integrated’ since they see their time in Germany as a temporary solution – even 18 months after forced migration – and plan their future in Ukraine.

Drawing on the experiences of single Ukrainian women who received protection in Germany, the talk will feature an anthropological perspective on person–state interactions in context of refugees’ future-planning. How do German policies for supporting Ukrainian refugees impact their stay or return decision-making? Do the policies address their needs now, or, on the contrary, enforce their desire to return to Ukraine, which appears to be ‘simpler’ and ‘more predictable’? And, finally, how does the experience of going through bureaucratic procedures contribute to the sense of having agency and being capable of shaping their today and tomorrow? The talk will make a particular focus on the emotional states and self-reflexions of Ukrainian refugees.


Valeria Lazarenko, PhD in Psychology.

Postdoctoral researcher at Georg-Simmel Zenter for Metropolitan Studies (Humboldt University, Berlin), affiliated researcher of “Affective Societies” network at Freie Universität Berlin. Former Philipp Schwarz research fellow at Leibniz-Insititute for Research on Society and Space (IRS).

She studied social psychology at the Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko Univeristy, and completed her PhD thesis in 2020. In her research she examined the construction of spatial identities of internally displaced people in Ukraine. Former guest researcher at the Arctic University of Norway and the University of Bayreuth. In 2021-2022 she was associated with Kyiv-based independent think tank Cedos, where she led the project on the impact of full-scale war on the civil population in Ukraine.

Valeria’s current research interests include studies of affect and emotions associated with experiences of forced migration, integration, and transnational relations.