University of Washington, Seattle-Honors Program

University of Washington, Seattle-Honors Program
Istanbul, Turkey -- Berlin, Germany
Summer 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Program Description

Continuing with the theme of borders and border crossing (Honors in Berlin 2008, 2009), the Summer 2011 program looks at immigrant communities and the boundaries of racial, linguistic, and psychological "borders" within the nation-state.
Germany has been a country of immigration since the early 1950s when the labor market called for more workers to advance the economic boom. Migrating workers stayed and formed communities that live on in the second or third Generation in Germany, which has created a complex relationship between Berlin and EU countries and countries outside of the EU.
Like the U.S., U.K., in the summer of 2010, a heated discussion about migration policies and failed so-called integration efforts erupted over the publication of a politician's book that called for restrictive immigration policies and the reduction of welfare benefits. Thilo Sarrzin's Germany Does Away With Itself specifically targeted immigrants from Islamic countries, stating their unwillingness to integrate into German society. His negative campaign included an argument based on biology and genetic factors that preclude certain groups from integrating (troubling for its formal similarity to the discourse of Nazi eugenics). Despite the rejection of the book's racist premise, the book opened up a far-reaching debate about immigration, racism, historical anti-semitism and contemporary Islamophobia in Germany with President Christain Wulff leading the charge against Sarrzin's anti-immigrant rhetoric.
A similar shift toward immigration policy is being seen throughout Europe. This program will explore immigration policy in Germany and across the EU integrating social science and humanities research and methods. What are the demographic shifts in immigration over the past 20 years, and specifically since the opening of Germany's borders after the formation of the EU? How have post-EU German national identities shifted and reformed as reflection and reaction to immigration patterns, particularly those from the non-West? Which cultural practices, expressions, spaces have become "battlegrounds" for assertions of both German identities and immigrant counter-identities? Why have gender and sexual practices become so central to the politics and regulation of immigration? Finally what might we learn for situating and understanding the U.S. immigration debate, especially in regards to immigrants of color and current anti-Middle-eastern Islamophobia, by studying the social and cultural politics of immigration in today's Berlin?
In addition to studying the recent trends in immigration policy, students will also explore social and cultural aspects of migrant life in Berlin with a hands-on approach to community life. One of our partners in this exploration will be Türkiyemspor, a German football club that is recognized as being among the most successful clubs within Germany's immigrant communities. The club is actively involved in several community-oriented programs. We will also work with academics and community partners who work with the Roma in Italy and the Roma and Sinti populations in Germany.
Through the lenses of art and literature as employed by writers, filmmakers, performers and visual artists, the 2011 Berlin Program will continue exploring the themes of migration and immigration and how borders both define and divide us.