Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Department of Social Sciences - Berlin Graduate School of Social Science

Valentin Feneberg

Valentin Feneberg

BGSS Generation 2019



Home of the Others. Country of Origin Information as a form of knowledge in asylum appeal adjudication in Germany



Prof. Dr. Silvia von Steinsdorff



Administrative courts are central stakeholders in the German asylum system. Leaving the political question as to who shall receive international protection open in many regards, governments rely on courts’ interpretative work; the determination of who is a “genuine” or an “illegitimate” asylum seeker becomes an issue of judicial practice. Due to evidentiary uncertainty, courts apply different forms of extrajudicial knowledge. They become, thus, both knowledge-producing and knowledge-processing institutions, constructing social realities by their decision-making. Country of Origin Information (COI) is a key form of knowledge in asylum cases and, therefore, central for the rejection or the award of refugee protection, subsidiary protection or the imposition of a national ban on deportation. The project examines the use of COI in refugee status determination in administrative courts in Germany, asking how COI is produced at courts, how this knowledge is applied both in legal hearings and the final decision and how this knowledge connects with the legal doctrine of risk assessment. Analysing the application of COI in administrative courts, the research contributes to the overarching question as to how the interpretative work of judicial institutions fulfils not only a legal, but also a political role. As research on law and courts lacks an integrative perspective, this project draws on an interdisciplinary approach in order to develop a theoretical understanding of both courts’ political role in the migration regime and the application of extrajudicial knowledge in asylum determination from a socio-legal perspective.


Nb: The English abstract is not a direct translation of the German version


Recent Publications




Integrated Research Institute Law & Society, HU Berlin