Samuel Blouin, 2013

POST-TOUR COMMENT on the DAAD-StudyTour to the German-Polish Border Region (2013)

As a student in sociology interested in religion and changes of values, but also as a human rights activist, I really enjoyed the Study Tour at the German-Polish border region.
When I think again about this experience, the number of people we met – many of them taking time even though they are very busy! – still impresses me. Even more than their number, it was the variety
that exceeded my expectations - from the vice-president of the Bundestag to protesters at an anti-mining camp. The constant contrasts between dominant institutions (Parliament, companies, city officials), their critics and the perspectives of ordinary people made this trip a condensed experience of sociological imagination.

Even as outsiders of the Polish and German societies, we got some glimpses of their intricacies, certainly with a disenchanting effect. For example, I came back more convinced that racism, ordinary and institutional, is not declining, there or here in Québec. I also recognize more acutely the importance to keep such issue political so that it does not get normalized. Nomada, an association for multicultural society integration, members of which we met, represents a great example of a responsible politicization of violations of human rights in a social context not used to it.
Three months after the tour, I’m already eager to go back to Germany or Poland to explore further the political context in connection with my research interests. Actually, the controversy on religious converts to Islam in 2007 in Germany could be a thought-provoking case to examine.