RUB Research School

Associate Doctoral Candidate Melanie Wieschalla

Faculty of Social Science

Organized violence in narratives of forced migration - Experiences of organized violence in migration trajectories of Salvadoran and Mexican migrants

In recent years, the number of refugees worldwide has risen more than ever before; armed conflict and organized violence are playing an increasingly important role, but they are often not included in discussions about migration policy itself. Previous research remained at the nation state level and often avoided to consider longer periods when analyzing these issues.
This dissertation project addresses the role of experiences of organized violence in migration trajectories in the region of North and Central America and how it is portrayed in life histories in the las 30 years, and thus analyzes one of the causes of forced migration. The research question is aimed at identifying the factors of organized violence that influence migration trajectories. The second question explores the extent to which these factors influence the migration trajectories. To answer these questions, biographical narrative interviews will be conducted with Mexican and Salvadoran migrants from two migration cohorts in Mexico and the USA. The interview transcripts will be evaluated through the documentary method in order to find common orientation frameworks of the respondents in how they deal with experiences of organized violence and their importance in migration trajectories. This dissertation project aims to contribute to forced migration research with a particular focus on the role of organized violence.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Ludger Pries

About Melanie Wieschalla

  • forced migration studies
  • migration studies
  • cultural diversity
  • peace- & conflict studies
  • sociology of violence & armed conflicts
  • development studies
  • development geography

I graduated from the Albert-Einstein School in 2007 in Bochum. From then on, I first studied biology at the Ruhr University for three years. Then I did the Bachelor of Science in Geography at the same University in 2013. I studied the Master of Science in Geography majoring in Urban and Regional Development Management from 2013 to 2016. During my Masters, I studied for one semester at the
National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City and wrote my thesis there. The topic of my thesis was the concept of the Intercultural City and its implementation by civil society organizations and institutions in Mexico City. The thesis also covered organizations that support migrants, refugees and indigenous groups. My doctoral thesis started in February 2018 and is called ‘Organized
violence in narratives of forced migration – Experiences of organized violence in migration trajectories of Salvador-an and Mexican migrants’. My supervisors are Dr. Prof. Ludger Pries from the Ruhr University and Dr. Prof. Liliana Rivera from the Colegio de México.

05.2016 – 07.2016 PROMOS scholarship of the DAAD for writing a master‘s thesis abroad (Mexico)

During my internship at the Institute migration and intercultural studies in Osnabrück in 2015, I also helped in the redaction of articles on migration in Mexico and Latin America in general. In 2017 I worked at the Guillermo and Alejandro de Humboldt department of the Colegio de México, researching but also organizing (international) events on forced migration, organized violence and development.
Finally, in 2018 I worked as a volunteer in a shelter for refugee women and families in Mexico City

  • 2017: Die meiste Hilfe nach dem Erdbeben in Mexiko kam von Freiwilligen (09.2017)/ Most help after the earthquake in Mexico came from volunteers , In: Latin America news portal amerika21 [].
  • 2015: Aktuelle migrationspolitische Entwicklungen in Mexiko. (01.2016)/ Current migration developments in Mexico., In: bpb: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (eds.): Länderprofile Migration: Daten – Geschichte – Politik. Mexiko. [http://www.].
  • 2015: Ethnisierung von Straftaten. Diskursanalytische Betrachtung der Berichterstattung über Angriffe auf Synagogen. / Ethnicization of crime. Discourse analysis of reporting on attacks on synagogues. In: DISS-Journal. Zeitschrift des Duisburger Instituts für Sprach- und Sozialforschung (30): 32-33.
  • 2012: Indizien für Betrug bei Wahlen in Mexiko (07.2012)/ Indicators of fraud in elections in Mexico. In: Latin America news portal amerika21 [
01/2019 Volunteering in ImMIGRA network which supports youth and young adults with migration background
05/2018 - 09/2018 Volunteer in CAFEMIN in Mexico City, Casa de Acogida, Empoderamiento y Formación para Mujeres y Familias Migrantes/ Shelter, Empowerement and Training for Migrant Women and Families
2012 Voluntary and occasional articles for the online news portal amerika21


  • DGS Sektion Biographieforschung/ Biographical research
  • DGS Sektion Migration & ethnische Minderheiten/ Migration & ethnic minorities
  • Flucht: Forschung und Transfer/ Flight: Research and Transfer
  • Flucht und Migration Netzwerk/ Flight and Migration network
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