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Projects with refugees
The refugee crisis is one of the chief challenges of our times. The Goethe-Institut plays a part in the integration of refugees in Germany and, in cooperation with partners, has also been organizing various cultural and educational programmes in the regions of origin, for example in Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon and in a number of cities in Turkey, since 2013. The different projects are presented in reports and interviews here.

Goethe-Institut Damascus | In Exile

Goethe-Institut Damascus | Photo: Björn Luley / Goethe-Institut

Berlin, 20 October until 5 November 2016: As a symbolic place, a temporary space is being created in Berlin for art and culture, for cooperation and dialogue between Syrian artists in Berlin: the Goethe-Institut Damascus | In Exile. A versatile programme is dedicated to the themes of home, displacement and expulsion and demonstrates possibilities for artistic creation in exile in Berlin. Thus, the Goethe-Institut is lighting a beacon of hope for a future after the war.

In 2012 the Goethe-Institut Damascus had to be closed due to the security situation. Founded in 1955, for many years the institute was a meeting place for cultural professionals, students and partners from Germany and Syria. Many people who had ties to the Goethe-Institut Damascus had to leave the country and are now living in exile in Europe, most of them in the hope of one day returning to Syria.

First highlights of the program

This hope creates a space for Goethe-Institut Damascus | In Exile: From 20 October to 5 November 2016, the Goethe-Institut Damascus will move into an abandoned Berlin shop, a temporary place in pop-up format. The improvised and provisional nature reflects the character of the project: the institute is an intermediate station, a way to resume strands of the work of the Goethe-Institut in Syria and the region, to think ahead while bringing the work of the Goethe-Institut abroad to life, especially in Syria’s neighbouring countries. Together with Syrian and German filmmakers and artists, writers, musicians and curators, a two-week programme of exhibitions, film series, performances, concerts and panel discussions will be created.

The future of Syrian publishers

On 24 October, young author Rasha Abbas will read from her short story anthology “The invention of German grammar”. A discussion with Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, the president of the Goethe-Institut on 28 October will address the decline of the publishing industry in the Arab world and its impact on the literature and readership of the region. The playwright and director Anis Hamdoun will talk with the art critic Hanno Rauterberg on 29 October, about the politicization of displacement in contemporary art and the question of social responsibility in cooperation with refugee artists. The prominent Syrian clarinettist and composer Kinan Azmeh, who combines ska and jazz with classical Arabic elements, will play a concert with his Trio Hewar.

Film series, workshops and library

A film series in collaboration with the Academy of Arts will present Syrian cinema before the revolution and its development since 2011. TFor the exhibition 70m² young Syrian artists and curators under the direction of artist Nasan Tur will design the event space during the project period three times based on different themes. he programme will be accompanied by network meetings and a working café. In addition, the space will serves as a temporary library, offering Syrian and German literature, magazines and children’s books, self-learning materials and tablet and PC stations.

Goethe-Institut Damascus | In Exile is a project by the Goethe-Institut. Media partners are Deutsche Welle, Radioeins from rbb, the magazine Rosegarden and the tageszeitung.
Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße 16, Berlin-Mitte


Annette Schäfer
Tel: +49 30 61 65 11 55

Dr. Jörg Schumacher
Pressesprecher und
Bereichsleiter Kommunikation
Goethe-Institut Zentrale
Tel: +49 89 15921 249

Dr. Joachim Bernauer
Abteilungsleiter Kultur
Goethe-Institut Zentrale
Tel: +49 89 15921 289

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