Between Racist Past and Racialized Present in Germany: Islam Critics, Holocaust Memory, and Immigrant Integration

Key information

3:15 PM to 5:00 PM
Paul Webley Wing (Senate House)
SOAS Paul Webley Wing (Senate House), Room S113

About this event

Esra Ozyurek, London School of Economics, European Studies

Professor Esra Özyürek is Professor in European Anthropology and Chair in Contemporary Turkish Studies. She received her BA in Sociology and Political Science at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul and her MA and PhD in Anthropology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Before joining the LSE she taught at the Anthropology Department of University of California, San Diego. She is also the author of Being German, Becoming Muslim: Race, Religion and Conversion in the New Europe (Princeton University Press, 2014) and Nostalgia for the Modern: State Secularism and Everyday Politics in Turkey (Duke University Press, 2007). She is the editor of Politics of Public Memory in Turkey (Syracuse University Press, 2007) and Unuttuklarɩ ve Hatɩrladɩklarɩyla Turkiye’nin Toplumsal Hafɩzasɩ by İletişim Yayɩnevi (2002).

A new cohort of Turkish- and Arab-background public intellectuals in Germany locate the root of problems of racialized migrant communities in a resemblance between Islamic culture and racist Nazi ideology. Islam critics promote the idea that if, like the children of Nazis before them, children of Muslims can rebel against their fathers sexually liberate themselves, they will also be able to embrace the democratic values of German society. In their best-seller books, Islam critics aim to include migrants in the German national temporal framework and also enable a new interpretation of German history not as an anomaly, an evolutionary modernization story gone terribly wrong, but as an historical model that other nationalities should also pass through and come out of. By studying how highly popular Islam critics position Muslims in relation to memory of National Socialism in Germany, this article asks what kind of transformation (and reproduction) is German Holocaust memory and public political culture is undergoing in its perception of its relationship with its Nazi past on one hand and its multi-ethnic present and future on the other hand. It also asks what role Muslims and other minorities play in shaping, reacting to, and corresponding with these transformations. By focusing on the unlikely promise of inclusion of the racialized Muslim minority in the German national temporality through pathdependent repetition, it argues that national memory cultures are formed in relation to and with the help of minorities who are being simultaneously incorporated and excluded from the present at once.