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Educational pathways of Yazidi refugees

Freiburg German linguistics specialist Katharina Brizić receives a fellowship including guest research in Berlin and Vienna

Freiburg, Mar 22, 2018

Educational pathways of Yazidi refugees

Katharina Brizić. Photo: Peter Gwiazda

The Stiftung Mercator foundation has awarded Professor Dr. Katharina Brizić its 2018 Fellowship in the field of integration. The fellowship for the research into multilingualism is dedicated to the issues of forced migration and education, and in particular it is aimed at a special group of refugees in Germany - the Yazidis.

Members of this Middle Eastern ethnic group have been persecuted since time immemorial not only because of their language - they speak Kurdish - but especially because they are a minority religious community. In 2014, this persecution reached its climax as the so-called “Islamic State” sought to wipe out the Yazidi population in northern Iraq.

A special program run by the state of Baden-Württemberg evacuated around one thousand women and children out of the war in northern Iraq, bringing them to safety in various towns in Baden-Württemberg - including Freiburg. The women and children received protection from persecution - but also psychological help and German lessons to prepare them for their future life and further education in Germany.

Brizić will use her 2018 Fellowship to find out about the Yazidi women and children and their path from northern Iraq, their arrival in Germany, and the subsequent education and language acquisition processes. The refugees’ individual experiences and future perspectives are to be the focus.

Furthermore the special Baden-Württemberg program will be part of the investigation. Brizić will document its establishment and development, its goals, deficits, and in particular its successes, in detail. She plans to publish her initial findings by the start of 2019. Her chief goal is to introduce this unique and soon to be discontinued program into the social and political discourse and to examine its function as a model for other central European immigration contexts, such as in capitals like Berlin and Vienna.

Within the framework of the Fellowship, the Freiburg linguist will be a guest researcher at the Berlin Institute for Empirical Integration and Migration Research and at the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital.


Professor Dr. Katharina Brizić
Deutsches Seminar - Germanistische Linguistik
University of Freiburg
Phone: 0761/203-3210