Žiga Podgornik-Jakil

Ziga Podgornik-Jakil

Institut für Sozial- und Kulturanthropologie

Doctoral candidate (Prof. Dr. Olaf Zenker); scholarship holder of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation

Field of Activity

Doctoral Research: 'State-assigned Housing, 'Integration', and Struggles for Autonomous Living among Asylum Seekers in Berlin after 2015'

Email zigajakil@zedat.fu-berlin.de


  • Bachelor's degree of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology
    University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Slovenia (2008-2012).
    Title: 'Analyzing migrant construction workers' issues in Slovenia through an activist research with the collective Invisible Workers of the World (IWW).'
    Supervised by Prof. Dr. Božidar Jezernik and Prof. Dr. Rajko Muršič.
  • Master's degree of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology
    University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Slovenia (2012-2015).
    Title: 'Does violence pay off? Insurgency and repression of Slovenian protesters after 2008.'
    Supervised by Prof. Dr. Rajko Muršič.
  • Doctoral candidate of Social and Cultural Anthropology
    Freie Universität Berlin, Germany (October 2015-).
    Title: 'State-assigned Housing, 'Integration', and Struggles for Autonomous Living among Asylum Seekers in Berlin after 2015'.
    Supervisor: Prof Dr. Olaf Zenker.
    Funded by Rosa-Luxemburg Stiftung.

Study abroad

  • 2011-2012. Erasmus student of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Universidad Miguel Hernandez de Elche, Elche, Spain


  • 2009-2010. Slovenian Ethnographic Museum
  • 2013-2014. Radio Študent: Journalist of political redaction at the Slovenian independent radio station
  • Summer Semester 2016. Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie University Berlin:
    Coordination and Co-supervision of the Research Group „An Emergency Shelter / Notunterkunft (NUK) in Berlin“ in the Course of the Research Seminar on the Current Situation of Refugees in Berlin by Prof. Dr. Olaf Zenker.


  • Sep 2013 
    Interdisciplinary Summer School: Teaching the Crisis: Geographies, Methodologies, Perspectives. Humboldt Universität Berlin
  • 31.5.2015-11.6.2015
    Anthropological Summer School: Intensive Creole programme in Piran (Slovenia) – ALTERNATIVES: Anthropological knowledge for changing world. Paper title: 'Dilemmas of anthropological fieldwork and ethics in cooperation with modern social movements and uprisings.' 
  • 15.-16.6.2016 
    International conference: Migration, Irregularisation and Activism: Challenging Contemporary Border Regimes, Racism and Subordination. Paper title: ‘Migration management in Berlin: Emergency centers and struggles against them.’

  • 19.9.–30.09.2016
    Interdisciplinary Summer University: Investigating Logistics - Forms of Life, Migration, the Commons(s)at Humboldt Universität Berlin. Panel holder with Berlin Scholar Group: Logistics under Construction: Fantasies and Frictions of Mobility in Berlin-Brandenburg.

  • 14.12.-15.12.2016
    International conference: “Resistance(s): Between Theories and the Field”
    in Brussels, Belgium. Paper title: Polemics of ‘resistances’ between local activists and asylum seekers in Berlin.

  • 26.3.-30.3.2017
    International congress: SIEF 2017: Ways of Dwelling: Crisis - Craft - Creativity in Göttingen, Germany. Panel holder with Fazila Bhimji (senior lecturer at University of Central Lancashire): Daily life and struggles of asylum-seekers living in temporary dwellings within Europe. Paper title: Waiting and Resistances in Berlin’s Emergency Shelters for Asylum Seekers.


  • Rosa-Luxemburg Stiftung (on-going since 2016)

State-assigned Housing, 'Integration', and Struggles for Autonomous Living among Asylum Seekers in Berlin after 2015

This research project investigates the recent governmental responses and developments in Berlin, Germany, related to the housing and integration of asylum seekers and how they are contested by the latter. Such policies produced by state institutions and private actors are forming an apparatus with an aim not only to create living and working possibilities for a specific group of people – that is for a certain part of asylum seekers, but to monitor and regulate their everyday lives. This process, beginning in 2015 with the placement of asylum seekers in emergency shelters and continuing from 2016 onwards with proposed sustainable ‘solutions’ drafted by the Berlin Senate in the so called ‘Master Plan for Integration and Security’ by constructing container and modular housing, is not linear and unchallenged. Rather, it is continuously contested by the asylum seekers, whose lives are acted upon by the developing policy frameworks.
Ethnography is conducted through a cooperative empirical investigation with different Berlin’s activist networks struggling for decent housing for all, which monitor such developments by cooperating with asylum seekers predominantly stationed in sport halls that play the role of emergency shelters. We find out that containment in the latter is overly dehumanizing, taking away control over asylum seekers’ lives. Therefore, I am actively engaging with my field of research in a form of militant ethnography, which implies a certain ethical and political positioning.
The research projects tries to combine two perspectives: On the one hand it engages in an analysis of the structural characteristics of aforementioned governmental responses by also giving some examples how they materialize on the ground, on the other it investigates the forms of resistance by the asylum seekers who reject regulations and surveillance functioning through an apparatus formed by the state and private actors. In this struggle housed asylum seekers are actively accompanied by activists, politicians, NGOs and critical academic scholars who introduce their own ideas for a decent place to live for all.

Research topics

- Social movements/Civil-rights movements/Revolutionary struggles/Self-organization and autonomism
- Mobility/Migration/Asylum seeking/Migration management
- Contemporary forms of labor/Economic globalization
- Border studies/Post-colonial(ity) studies
- Legal and political anthropology
- Research-fieldwork ethics, epistemology and methodology

Regional Focus

Europe, European Union, Germany, Central-Eastern Europe

Journal publications

  • Podgornik-Jakil, Žiga 2016 ‘Zasilna zavetišča in sodobni mejni boji (Eng. Berlin: Emergency Shelters and Contemporary Border Struggles).’ Journal for the Critique of Science 44 (264): 84-98.

Popular publications

  • Podgornik-Jakil, Žiga and Thomas Willms 2015 ‘Deutsche Militärzeitschriften.’ Antifa: Magazin der VVN-BdA für antifaschistische Politik un Kultur, Jan./Feb. 2015, page: 13-15.