Collection: NJMR Special Issue - Volume 10, Issue 4

Special Issue Article

Acts of Volunteering for Refugees: Local Responses to Global Challenges



This article explores volunteering in grassroots networks that formed to support refugees arriving to Europe, in the context of a socio-political landscape marked by disunity in 2015. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Berlin and Copenhagen in 2017, the article analyses grassroots volunteering as local responses to global challenges. The analysis draws theoretical inspiration from a performative approach and concentrates on everyday activities in the networks, with a focus on the motivations and rationales of the volunteers. Building on dynamic understandings of citizenship and borders as proposed by Engin Isin and Chris Rumford, this article discusses the volunteer activities as acts of volunteering that negotiate who belongs in a given society and thus rearrange the notion of citizenship. In this context, this article argues that grassroots networks function as platforms for testing out forms of everyday activism in the specific socio-political context.


Grassroots volunteeringForced migrationCitizenshipEthnographyNorthern Europe
  • Year: 2020
  • Volume: 10 Issue: 4
  • Page/Article: 26-40
  • DOI: 10.33134/njmr.367
  • Submitted on 31 Aug 2019
  • Accepted on 8 Jul 2020
  • Published on 26 Nov 2020
  • Peer Reviewed