50 years ago, in 1961, Germany and Turkey signed a treaty that would allow several thousand Turkish men to work in Germany temporarily. The so-called “guest worker” program was designed to provide the rapidly growing postwar German economy with a much-needed influx of labor. After all, East-Germany had closed its borders and had started building what would become known as the Berlin Wall, so West Germany could not count on a steady influx of workers from the GDR anymore.
Yet, what was meant to be a temporary solution, developed into a large-scale migration that resulted in millions of people of Turkish background now living in Germany. During the last five decades this growth has been accompanied both by positive and negative reactions: While many Germans welcomed a diversification of their society and celebrated the “Multi-Kulti Gesellschaft,” the more conservative part of society felt threatened by what it sometimes perceived as an Islamist attack on the Christian roots of German and/or European identity. Of course, this being Germany, these debates are inseparable from Germany’s National Socialist history and the murderous racism that had been part of the Nazi regime.
ASC’s German Studies Program will host two speakers on March 24, 7:30pm, who will shed light on this topic from various angles. Dr. Rita Chin, historian at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, author of The Guest Worker Question in Postwar Germany (Cambridge UP, 2007), and co-author of After the Nazi Racial State: Difference and Democracy in Germany and Europe (U of Michigan P, 2009), will talk about the historical and political aspects of Turkish migration to Germany.
Yadé Kara, a Turkish-born writer and journalist who grew up in the former West-Berlin will talk about the experiences of second- and third-generation Turkish-Germans. Kara has lived and worked in Istanbul, London, and Hongkong, and her debut novel Salem Berlin (2003) has received numerous awards, including in 2004 the prestigious Adalbert-von-Chamisso literary award
Please join us for this event and the reception afterwards!