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Turkish Germans in the Federal Republic of Germany
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As the largest national group of guest workers in Germany, the Turks became a visible presence in local neighbourhoods and schools and had diverse social, cultural, and religious needs. Focussing on West Berlin, Sarah Thomsen Vierra explores the history of Turkish immigrants and their children from the early days of their participation in the post-war guest worker program to the formation of multi-generational communities. Both German and Turkish sources help to uncover how the first and second generations created spaces of belonging for themselves within and alongside West German society, while also highlighting the factors that influenced that process, from individual agency and community dynamics to larger institutional factors such as educational policy and city renovation projects. By examining the significance of daily interactions at the workplace, in the home, in the neighbourhood, and in places of worship, we see that spatial belonging was profoundly linked to local-level daily life and experiences.


'Historical works on Turkish Germans and Turkish Gastarbeiter (i.e, ‘guest workers’) are in short supply. Though Turks are the largest ethnic minority in Germany, only recently have scholars begun to pay serious attention to this group. [Thomsen] Vierra delivers a social history of first-generation Turkish immigrants and their children, exploring how they interacted with and indeed influenced the community in which they lived while also creating spaces for themselves that were distinctly Turkish. [Thomsen] Vierra’s research focuses primarily on the West Berlin neighborhood of Sprengelkiez, and she makes clear that she does not intend her book to speak for the experiences of all Turkish Germans. Geographic specificity aside, this volume is a welcome addition to the literature on German ethnic minorities and guest workers … readable and richly supported by both Turkish and German sources, including oral histories, newspapers, archival documents, and memoirs. Highly recommended.'

J. T. Rasel Source: Choice

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  • 6 - Belonging in Reunified Germany
    pp 193-226


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