Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationCalifornia, Riverside, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9356
Approve DateOctober 5, 2016
Project TitleSchwenkel, Dr. Christina L., U. of California, Riverside, CA - To aid research on 'The Afterlife of Housing: Vietnamese Migrants and the Rehabilitation of Socialist Architecture in Eastern Germany'
CHRISTINA L. SCHWENKEL, University of California, Riverside, California, was awarded a grant in October 2016 to aid research on ‘The Afterlife of Housing: Vietnamese Migrants and the Rehabilitation of Socialist Architecture in Eastern Germany.’ At the center of Halle-Neustadt, once the celebrated ‘new town’ of East Germany, stands a commercial center that is partially vacant with the exception of household and clothing shops, bistros, a nail salon, and small food markets. The majority of these establishments are run by Vietnamese migrants, some of whom continue to live in the surrounding housing blocks, a few of which stand empty. This research focused on Vietnamese labor migrants who came to East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall and stayed after unification. It examined the role of these migrants in transforming postsocialist cities that experienced significant population decline with the closure of major industrial plants after 1990. For the Vietnamese diaspora in eastern Germany, ‘shrinking’ cities offered new social and economic opportunities. Vietnamese migrants were not only involved in the economic transformation of declining neighborhoods through an influx of their businesses, however. They also engaged in affective labor or non-commodified care work as integral to their livelihood strategies. The act of caring for German and other migrant neighbors through social and emotional labor was a means for Vietnamese migrants to claim membership in society, while contesting racialized discourses of non-belonging.