At Home in Almanya? Turkish-German Spaces of Belonging in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1961-1990 Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Vierra, Sarah Thomsen
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • In this dissertation, I examine the process through which Turkish immigrants and their children made themselves at home in West Germany from 1961 to reunification in 1990. Originally coming to the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) through a temporary foreign worker program in the 1960s and 1970s, Turkish Gastarbeiter (guestworkers) defied the FRG's and their own initial expectations by extending their stays, bringing their families to live with them, and forming communities. While they were not the only group of Gastarbeiter, the growing visibility of the culturally and religiously foreign Turks prompted heated debated about their willingness and ability to become a part of German society. Public discourse and academic scholarship defined Germany's Turkish minority through deceptive dichotomies such as traditional or religious versus Western-oriented or integrated. In the same manner, they created a spatial binary, depicting the Turkish-German community as living in a Parallelgesellschaft (parallel society) that hindered their integration into larger German society. I challenge these discourses in two fundamental ways. First, I examine how Turkish immigrants and their children, in the course of their daily lives, actively participated in German society at the local level. Drawing on Henri Lefebvre's theories on the production of space and Michael de Certeau's connection between daily life and power, I identify the spaces of belonging the first and second generations constructed in their everyday landscape (workplace, home and neighborhood, school, and mosque) and analyze how those spaces affected their senses of belonging in German society. Second, through this examination of Turkish-Germans' spaces of belonging, I demonstrate the fallacy of integration as a linear process that starts in ethnic separatism and ends in assimilation. Rather, integration is a phenomenon that is spatial in nature, embedded in a particular historical context, and marked by reciprocal influences between the host society and immigrant group. Drawing on German- and Turkish-language sources, I situate the development of the Turkish-German community within German postwar history and show how the everyday experiences of Turkish immigrants and their children affected their own sense of identity and belonging even as they brought about a hybridization of German society.
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  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of History."
  • Jarausch, Konrad Hugo
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  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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