Cosmopolitan Anxieties

Turkish Challenges to Citizenship and Belonging in Germany

Cosmopolitan Anxieties

Book Pages: 440 Illustrations: 25 illustrations Published: July 2008

Author: Ruth Mandel

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Critical Ethnic Studies, European Studies

In Cosmopolitan Anxieties, Ruth Mandel explores Germany’s relation to the more than two million Turkish immigrants and their descendants living within its borders. Based on her two decades of ethnographic research in Berlin, she argues that Germany’s reactions to the postwar Turkish diaspora have been charged, inconsistent, and resonant of past problematic encounters with a Jewish “other.” Mandel examines the tensions in Germany between race-based ideologies of blood and belonging on the one hand and ambitions of multicultural tolerance and cosmopolitanism on the other. She does so by juxtaposing the experiences of Turkish immigrants, Jews, and “ethnic Germans” in relation to issues including Islam, Germany’s Nazi past, and its radically altered position as a unified country in the post–Cold War era.

Mandel explains that within Germany the popular understanding of what it means to be German is often conflated with citizenship, so that a German citizen of Turkish background can never be a “real German.” This conflation of blood and citizenship was dramatically illustrated when, during the 1990s, nearly two million “ethnic Germans” from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union arrived in Germany with a legal and social status far superior to that of “Turks” who had lived in the country for decades. Mandel analyzes how representations of Turkish difference are appropriated or rejected by Turks living in Germany; how subsequent generations of Turkish immigrants are exploring new configurations of identity and citizenship through literature, film, hip-hop, and fashion; and how migrants returning to Turkey find themselves fundamentally changed by their experiences in Germany. She maintains that until difference is accepted as unproblematic, there will continue to be serious tension regarding resident foreigners, despite recurrent attempts to realize a more inclusive and “demotic” cosmopolitan vision of Germany.


“[C]osmopolitan Anxieties offers historical depth, rich and complex longitudinal ethnography, and nuanced analysis of the way Turkish guestworkers in Berlin rise above ethnicized perceptions to negotiate citizenship and a sense of belonging. Mandel’s book is, therefore, a crucial contribution to longitudinal ethnographic research on immigrant populations in urban centers, and contributes to an anthropology of movement, displacement, and emplacement.” — Faith Nibbs H-SAE, H-Net Reviews

Cosmopolitan Anxieties is a most welcome addition to our understanding of contemporary Europe in general and Germany in particular in which the weight of history is crucial to understand anxieties about Muslim minorities in the new Europe. Only through such nuanced and careful studies that show how social memory and social structure and ideology constantly form and inform each other, will we be able to better understand the aspects of a new European identity in the making and hopefully suggest alternative modes of belonging that are inclusive and democratic.” — Esra Özyürek, American Ethnologist

“[Mandel’s] book complements the available scholarly literature on the German citizenship tradition and its contemporary outlook by bringing in numerous ethnographic accounts and thereby treating the topic primarily in terms of practices, beyond a conventional analysis of legal arrangements. Mandel’s most original contribution consists of her focus on the spatial dimension of race, ethnicity, culture, and religion.” — Schirin Amir-Moazami, American Journal of Sociology

“A wide range of source material, including inter alia photographs of the author of memorials, poems, full-length short stories, and various example artwork inform Cosmopolitan Anxieties. This rich source base reveals the fraught and varied terrain that scholars who study postwar Germany must navigate. This book is a rare combination of literatures that seldom mix, and it remains very accessible to both specialists and a broader audience.” — Jennifer A. Miller, Canadian Journal of History

“As we wait (or struggle) for the next breakthrough we will do well to read Mandel.” — Engin F. Isin, Progress in Human Geography

“Mandel beautifully contextualizes that case of Turkish immigrants. . . . [Her] command of three languages (Turkish, German, and English) is astonishing. . . . It is almost impossible not be me surprised at the richness of her fieldwork data, her sharp and detailed observations on ethnic and racial relations in Germany, and her sophisticated discussion that carefully combines theory and practice. . . . In short, Mandel’s book is an instant classic for scholars of anthropology, sociology, political science cultural studies, and history. It is beautifully written, sure to capture not only academics but sophisticated readers who are interested in the issues of contemporary German society.” — Gokce Yurdakul, Canadian Journal of Sociology

“Mandel is extraordinarily perceptive. . . . This is a book so important for Germany that it should be translated into German at the earliest.” — Murad Wilfried Hofmann, Journal of Islamic Studies

“Ruth Mandel has made a valuable and insightful contribution to the discussions around migration, citizenship and ethnicity in Europe. Her rich and nuanced study of the experiences of belonging and displacement of Turkish immigrants to Germany, based on more than twenty years of ethnographic research, will doubtlessly soon be among the most cited works on the difficult relationship between the European states and their Muslim minorities. . . . Cosmopolitan Anxieties is a highly valuable and accessible anthropological contribution to the study of migration and multiculturalism in Europe today and relevant to interested scholars in all fields.” — Tobias G. Eule, Nations and Nationalism

“Ruth Mandel’s Cosmopolitan Anxieties pushes forward anthropology’s ongoing work of reconciling mobilities with borders, immigrations with national identities, and cosmopolitan claims with enduring nationalist realities, demonstrating that nations and national identities are being de-centered, though not dissolved, as they are interpolated into ever more complex assemblages of cultural difference. . . . In today’s globalizing, multicultural Europe, Mandel’s elegantly captures and explains the dynamics of what are formidably complex cultural processes and reciprocities.” — Damien Stankiewicz, Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Europe

“Ruth Mandel’s work is at once original and important, a significant contribution to studies on immigration, Islam in Europe, assimilation and the politics of the other.” — Seth J. Frantzman, Digest of Middle East Studies

“Ruth Mandel's brilliant work entitled . . . very eloquently proves Migration Studies is not only about migration; it rather covers more than that. . . . The book is one of the most elaborate and detailed sources of German-Turkish diaspora written with a brilliant anthropological gaze.”
— Ayhan Kaya, Insight Turkey

“The author of this remarkable book is a woman of many talents. . . . She worked her way through the labyrinth of Muslim ethnic identities in Europe. In the process, she untangled them from one another and clarified their origins and interactions. By the time she finishes her odyssey, the reader should not be surprised to find him/herself contemplating the relationships between Turkish and German, a relationship virtually unknown historically.” — Frank Tachau, Middle East Journal

“The book’s strength is that it spans more than two decades of fieldwork in multiple, interrelated sites. The author’s broad yet richly intimate understanding of immigrants’ position in Germany – and especially in Berlin – is clearly evident, and as such is a superb example of how long-term research permits ethnographers to fully digest and contextualize the impact of historical events on local communities. . . . Overall, this is a wonderfully engaging book that will demonstrate its significance for many years to come.” — Heide Castañeda, PoLAR

“The complexity of the analysis in this book would make it . . . a very provocative text for graduate seminars focused on immigration, European culture and society, or identity and citizenship. In addition to anthropologists, scholars of cultural studies and political scientists, as well as those interested in the global Muslim diaspora, will also find much of interest in this volume.” — Caroline B. Brettell, Critique of Anthropology

“This monograph distinguishes itself by exploring the impact of both the host country, Germany, as well as the country of origin, Turkey, on identity formation and transnational practices in the diaspora. . . . [B]y looking at Turkish life in Germany today through different ethnic and historical lenses, this monograph represents to-date the most comprehensive mosaic of the Turkish diasporic community in Berlin and responses to it, while also critically evaluating the euphoric embrace of notions of cosmopolitanism and post-national citizenship in recent migration scholarship. This book therefore is indispensable not only for any serious scholar of migration but also for anyone interested in contemporary Germany.” — Sabine Von Dirke, German Quarterly

“This vivid ethnography of ethnic life in Turkish Berlin, richly illustrated with pictures, confronts the city’s cultivated image as a Weltstadt.” — Hilary Silver, German Politics and Society

Cosmopolitan Anxieties is a fascinating and timely book that makes an important contribution to scholarship on German-Turkish relations, the new Europe, and immigration more broadly. It will be of great interest to scholars in these fields and to anyone interested in contemporary German society.” — Melissa L. Caldwell, European Journal of Sociology

Cosmopolitan Anxieties is a vividly written ethnography that will attract readers who are interested in Turks and immigration politics in Germany, as well as the intercultural facets of Berlin. The multilayered study of belonging brings to our attention how Turkish guest workers in Germany are socially constructed as foreigners rather than immigrants or citizens. Therefore, this study clearly has an applied dimension. If policy makers read such analyses, they would more easily grasp the reasons why their current integration policy for ‘foreigners’ is bound to fail.” — Refika Sarıönder, Current Anthropology

“[An] extremely intelligent study of Turkish immigration to Berlin. . . . Highly recommended.” — A. A. Caviedes, Choice

“This is a remarkable study which not only provides scholars in the fields of race and ethnicity, European studies and anthropology with real insights into the complexities and challenges facing Germany’s Turkish community, but also makes a disadvantaged community more visible.” — Daniel Faas, Ethnic and Migration Studies

“In Cosmopolitan Anxieties, Ruth Mandel successfully conveys the particularities of Turkish experience in the German milieu as she moves across a variety of topics, including citizenship, cultural identity, religion, transnationalism, urbanism, and racism.” — Kevin Robins, author of The Challenge of Transcultural Diversities: Cultural Policy and Cultural Diversity

“Ruth Mandel has turned the long trajectory of her journey through the jostling identities of Turk, Muslim, Alevi, German, Jew, and American—often introspective, always nuanced, and richly painted with intense, intimate, and many-hued detail—into an intricate and yet lucid masterpiece of analytic as well as ethnographic dexterity. In the condescension of a well-meaning Berlin cultural elite toward the ‘demotic cosmopolitanism’ of the immigrants, and in the scream of irrepressible disgust evoked by the touch of an alien-seeming strand of hair, she gracefully but inexorably traces the lingering miasma of submerged or weakly confronted intolerance and challenges us to search out its traces in our own cultural milieu as well.” — Michael Herzfeld, author of The Body Impolitic: Artisans and Artifice in the Global Hierarchy of Value

“Ruth Mandel’s study of the Turks of Germany is perhaps the most important single book yet written examining the complexity and contradictions of the Muslims in today’s Europe. Looking at the various communities (Turks, Alevis, and Kurds) that make up the Turkish presence in Germany and delineating the complexity of a German identity after the Shoah and German reunification as the background to the debates about these Islamic presences, Mandel is able to provide first-hand, sophisticated answers to the most troubling questions about the shifting world of Islam in Europe. A study that will quickly become a classic for any examination of Europe and Islam.” — Sander L. Gilman, author of Multiculturalism and the Jews


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ruth Mandel teaches in the Department of Anthropology at University College, London. She is a coeditor of Markets and Moralities: Ethnographies of Postsocialism.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations ix

Preface and Acknowledgments xi

Note on Language xxiii

Introduction: Germany, Turkey, and the Space In-Between 1

Berlin: A Prelude 23

1. Shifting Cosmopolitics 27

2. "We Called for Labor, but People Came Instead" 51

3. Making Auslander 80

4. Haunted Jewish Spaces and Turkish Phantasms of the Present 109

5. Berlin's Kreuzberg: Topographies of Infraction 141

6. Beyond the Bridge: Two Banks of the River 155

7. Minor Literatures and Professional Ethnics 184

8. Practicing German Citizenship 206

9. Deracination to Diaspora: Leave and Leaving 232

10. Reimaginig Islams in Berlin 248

11. Veiling Modernities 294

Conclusion: Reluctant Cosmopolitans 311

Glossary 327

Notes 329

Works Cited 359

Index 403
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Winner, 2009 William A Douglas Prize, presented by the Society for European Anthropology (AAA)

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4193-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4176-5
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