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Gerda Heck

  • Position: Assistant Professor
  • Department: Department of Sociology, Egyptology and Anthropology
  • Email: [email protected]
Brief Biography

Gerda Heck has a shared position as assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, Egyptology and Anthropology and the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies (CMRS) at The American University in Cairo. Prior to this, she held positions at the University of Cologne, the European Viadrina University Frankfurt/Oder, the Georg August University Göttingen, and at the Weissensee School of Arts in Berlin (Germany). Her academic work and research focus on migration and border regimes, urban studies, transnational migration, migrant networks and self-organizing, religion and new concepts of citizenship. She has conducted research in Germany, Brazil, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, France, Morocco, Turkey and the USA. Apart from her own research projects, she has participated in various international research projects. From 2010 to 2013, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the international and interdisciplinary research project, Global Prayers – Redemption and Liberation in the City. In 2016, she conducted research in Turkey within the scope of the international research project, Transit Migration 2: A Research Project on the De- and Re-Stabilizations of the European Border Regime. She is a member of kritnet: Network for Critical Migration- and Border-Regime Research.

Research Interest

Research and teaching interests

  • Migration and Border Regimes,
  • Urban Studies,
  • Migrant Networks and (Political) Organizing,
  • Religious Practices and Migration
  • New Concepts of Citizenship
  • Ethnography and Qualitative Empirical Research

Book chapters

(Forthcoming). With Stephan Lanz. 2017. Religion, Migration and The 'Worlding' Of Urban Daily Life. Local and Transnational Pentecostalism in Rio De Janeiro. In: Religion and the Global City, eds. David Garbin and Anna Strhan, Bloomsbury: London Oxford.

2014. Ankommen, ohne bleiben zu wollen. Zu Bedingungen und Alltagsstrategien kongolesischer Migrant_innen im so genannten Transitland Türkei. In: Grenzregime II. Migration – Kontrolle – Wissen. Transnationale Perspektiven, eds. Lisa-Marie Heimeshoff, Sabine Hess, Stefanie Kron, Helen Schwenken,Berlin/Hamburg: Assoziation A, 98-111.

2014. Worshipping in the Hotel Golden Age. Transnational networks, ecomony, religion and migration of Congolese in Istanbul. In: Global Prayers. Contemporary Manifestations of the Religious in the City, eds. Jochen Becker, Katrin Klingan, Stephan Lanz, Kathrin Wildner, Zürich: Müller, 274-289.

2013. L’Europe et ses frontières. Les modifications des politiques européennes de migration durant les deux dernières décennies. In: Vie Social et Traitements, N°120, eds. Cemea, Toulouse: Eres, 22-28.

2013. Migration und Diaspora. Netzwerke und Ermächtigungsprozesse kongolesischer Frauen. Multi-Sited Ethnography. In: Intersektionen von race, class, gender, body. Theoretische Zugänge und qualitative Forschungen in Handlungsfeldern der Sozialen Arbeit. Forschungen, eds. Cornelia Giebeler, Claudia Rademacher, Erika Schulze, Leverkusen: Budrich, 261-276.

2012. The church itself is an enterprise. In: Faith is the Place. The urban Cultures of Global Prayers, eds. metroZones, Berlin: b_books/metroZones, 76-78.

With Uma A. Segal. 2011. Migration, minorities and citizenship. In: Handbook of International Social Work, eds. Karen Lyons, Nathalie Hügler, London: Sage, 100-116.

2011. “It’s been the best journey of my life”. Governing migration and migrants’ strategies in front of the Europe’s borders: Morocco. In: Control of irregular migration and its impacts on immigrant communities, eds. Mechthild Baumann, Astrid Lorenz and Kerstin Rosenow, Leverkusen: Budrich, 73-86.

Peer-reviewed articles

(Forthcoming). With Firat Genc and Sabine Hess. 2017. The Multilayered Migration Regime in Turkey: Contested Regionalization, Deceleration and Legal Precarization; Journal of Borderlands Studies, Volume 32, Issue 4

2014. Transit göçten ticarete: Türkiye’deki Kongolu göçmenlerin ya ̨sam ko ̨sulları ve gündelik stratejileri, In: Toplum ve Bilim Sayı: 131, 68-83.

With Stephan Lanz. 2014. Religiöses „worlding“ in der Stadt am Beispiel Rio de Janeiro. In: Religionen in Bewegung. Peripherie 134/135, 34, 212-238.

Journal articles & interviews

With Sabine Hess. 2016. European Restabilization of the Border Regime. A report from the contested borders in the Aegean region. Harek(et)Act. Reporting on the Turkish EU Border Regime. http://harekact.bordermonitoring.eu/2016/06/20/european-restabilization- attempts-of-the-external-borders-and-their-consequences/

2016. “We are prisoners, although we just wanted to seek asylum in Europe.” Harek(et)Act. Reporting on the Turkish EU Border Regime. http://harekact.bordermonitoring.eu/2016/06/19/we-are-prisoners-although...

2011. Interviews with the Avantgarde of Religious Charismatic Churches. Lo-Lowengo Botembe: Strolling between West and East, North and South. global prayers – redemption and liberation in the city. https://globalprayers.info/  the-avant-garde-of-religious-charismatic-churches/2008.


2011. Diversity als Mainstream, eds. Wolf Dietrich Bukow, Erika Schulze and Erol Yildiz, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.

2008. „Illegale Einwanderung”. Eine umkämpfte Konstruktion in Deutschland und in den USA, Münster: unrast.

Selected creative works

With Christian Hanussek. 2017. Xiaobei. Mapping African Guangzhou. Participation in the exhibition of the Chinafrika project: https://chinafrika.org/2017/05/exhibition-at-gfzk-leipzig-june-september...

With Carsten Does. 2010. “It’s been the best journey of my life.” A video documentary and installation about migrant experiences of sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco on their way to Europe. Issued within the scope of the exhibition “Transient Spaces – The Tourist Syndrome”, Organizer: Uqbar. Exhibition opening April 16th 2010, Naples, Italy.


Doctorate in Sociology, PhD thesis: “Illegalization of Immigration: Immigration politics, Debates and Social Movements in Germany and in the United States of America.“ (Magna cum laude), University of Cologne (Germany).


Diploma in Educational Sciences; thesis: “New Forms of Migration and Mobility in the Caribbean: Haiti – USA”; University of Cologne (Germany).