Turkish-German Studies: Past, Present, and Future

A Seminar at the German Studies Association

Kansas City, MO, September 19-21, 2014


Berna Güneli, Ela Gezen, and David Gramling

Participating colleagues:
Leslie A. Adelson—Cornell University

Marc Baer—London School of Economics and Political Science

Kristin Dickinson—University of California, Berkeley
Lela Gibson—University of California, Los Angeles
Deniz Göktürk—University of California, Berkeley

Randall Halle—University of Pittsburgh
Elke Heckner—University of California, Berkeley
Jeffrey Jurgens—Bard College
Bala Venkat Mani—University of Wisconsin-Madison

Brian Miller—University of Iowa (in absentia)
Jennifer Miller—Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Mert Bahadir Reisoglu—New York University
Didem Uca—University of Pennsylvania
Baris Ülker—Technische Universität Berlin
Yasemin Yildiz—University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


This seminar will discuss the current state of scholarship in the interdisciplinary field of Turkish-German Studies, while at the same provid- ing a forum to identify possible ‘blind spots’  and directions for the future. Central to Turkish-German Studies have been questions regarding inter- sections of nation, citizenship, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, and religion. This field has been influenced and invigorated by scholars from a variety of disciplines whose work examines these complex relationships in the post-war period: Leslie A. Adelson, Tom Cheesman, Rita Chin, Den- iz Göktürk, Kader Konuk, Ruth Mandel, B. Venkat Mani, Azade Seyhan, Karin Yeșilada, and Yasemin Yıldız, to name a few.

While much important work has been done in investigating ‘the cultural effects of migration’ and examining ‘reconfigurations of the German national archive’ the seminar would like to shift the focus to an examination of the implications for the Turkish archive. At the same time, this seminar provides a forum to iden- tify and examine the significance of Turkish contexts—cultural, political, historical, and social—for our research questions. If Bertolt Brecht is central to Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s oeuvre, what was the Brecht reception in Turkey prior to her emigration? If Yesilçam, Young Turkish Cinema, and contem- porary Turkish TV—with their music, stars, and stock figures—are signifi- cant for Fatih Akın’s films, how does this affect his or our perception of European cinema? If Nazım Hikmet’s works were translated and performed in the GDR during the 1950s, deemed to match its socialist agenda, how did Turkish and East German perceptions of the aesthetics of socially engaged art overlap? What do the interventions of nineteenth- and early twentieth- century Turkish literary travelers to and commentators on Germany (Saba- hattin Ali, Ahmet Haşim, Nazım Hikmet, Ahmet Mithat Efendi and others) add to the historical and aesthetic repertoire of Turkish-German Studies? In the past two decades critics have productively explored the significance of the Turkish-German subject within German public-political and memory discourse, specifically focusing on representations of the Holocaust, 1968, the Cold War, and reunification.

However recent publications indicate new directions by expanding our geographical (Turkey, Europe) focus and tem- poral (pre-1945) scope: Kader Konuk’s investigation of the impact of Ger- man-Jewish exiles on modern Turkey, Randall Halle’s work on production guidelines and practices in a Turkish and European context, Yasemin Yıldız’ in-depth engagement with the Turkish historical context during the 1960s and 1970s in her analysis of translational practices and Deniz Göktürk’s work in film studies with emphases on institutional frameworks, tacti- cal role-pay and humor, and digital spectatorship. In line with this recent scholarship, we invite contributions that offer new insights into areas of Turkish German entanglements, encounters, and exchanges by expanding geographical, methodological, and temporal frameworks.Particularly, we hope to encourage inquiry into areas—historical, aesthetic, social and me- dial—that may have eluded German Studies thus far.

About livelongday

Associate Professor of German Studies, Director of Graduate Studies Co-Editor of Critical Multilingualism Studies | cms.arizona.edu Co-Investigator, Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Language, the Body, Law, and the State (2014–2017)
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