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From Rhetoric to Practice

A critique of immigration policy in Germany through the lens of Turkish-Muslim women's experiences of migration

Sherran Clarence

The largest group of migrants in Germany is the Turkish people, many of whom have low skills levels, are Muslim, and are slow to integrate themselves into their host communities. German immigration policy has been significantly revised since the early 1990s, and a new Immigration Act came into force in 2005, containing more inclusive stances on citizenship and integration of migrants. There is a strong rhetoric of acceptance and open doors, within certain parameters, but the gap between the rhetoric and practice is still wide enough to allow many migrants, particularly women, to fall through it. Turkish-Muslim women bear the brunt of the difficulties faced once they have arrived in Germany, and many of them are subject to domestic abuse, joblessness and poverty because of their invisibility to the German state, which is the case largely because German immigration policy does not fully realise a role and place for women migrants. The policy also does not sufficiently account for ethnic and cultural identification, or limitations faced by migrants in that while it speaks to integration, it does not fully enable this process to take place effectively. Even though it has made many advances in recent years towards a more open and inclusive immigration policy, Germany is still a 'reluctant' country of immigration, and this reluctance stops it from making any real strides towards integrating migrants fully into German society at large. The German government needs to take a much firmer stance on the roles of migrant women in its society, and the nature of the ethnic and religious identities of Muslim immigrants, in order to both create and implement immigration policy that truly allows immigrants to become full and contributing members to German social and economic life, and to bring it in line with the European Union's common directives on immigration.

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Triadafilos Triadafilopoulos and Karen Schönwälder

With the passage of a new citizenship law in 1999 and the so-called

Zuwanderungsgesetz (Migration Law) of 2004, contemporary Germany

has gone a long way toward acknowledging its status as an immigration

country (Einwanderungsland). Yet, Germany is still regarded by

many as a “reluctant” land of immigration, different than traditional

immigration countries such as Canada, the United States, and Australia.

It owes this image to the fact that many of today’s “immigrants”

were in fact “guests,” invited to work in the Federal Republic

in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and expected to leave when they were

no longer needed. Migration was meant to be a temporary measure,

to stoke the engine of the Economic Miracle but not fundamentally

alter German society. The question, then, is how did these “guest

workers” become immigrants? Why did the Federal Republic

become an immigration country?

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Andrea Klimt

Many observers of the German scene have argued that the long-term

non-German resident populations have become de facto permanent

members of German society. Beginning in the 1980s, the term

Heimkehrillusion, the “illusion of returning home,” gained prominence

in accounts of the guest workers’ trajectories, as many social scientists

and policy makers came to dismiss the continued assertions of some

migrant populations of their intention to eventually return “home.”

The increasingly accepted view was that “even though many [migrants]

have the goal to return sometime, this goal becomes increasingly

unlikely the longer they stay in Germany. For many families who have

established themselves here, there are no possibilities left in the country

of origin” (Institute für Zukunftsforschung, 15). The evidence that

“most of the ‘guest-workers’ would not return to their home countries”

continues to be pointedly cited in more recent efforts to push the German

state into reforming citizenship laws and taking responsibility for

the multicultural reality of German society (Hagedorn 2000, 4). The

permanence of the non-German population and their growing commitment

to life in Germany has, over the years, been the cornerstone of

progressive arguments that non-German residents merit full membership

in the German polity and that notions of “Germanness” must be

de-ethnicized and made more permeable. Explicit reference to

Heimkehrillusion has largely dropped out of current discussions of citizenship

reform and forms of belonging, but the conclusion that all resident

migrants in Germany are unambiguously there to stay has come

to form the unquestioned basis of contemporary debate.

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Migrant Care Workers in Israel

Between Family, Market, and State

Hila Shamir

In the early 1990s, Israel opened its gates to migrant guest workers who were invited to work, on a temporary basis, in the agriculture, construction, and in-home care sectors. The in-home care sector developed quickly during those years due to the introduction of migrant workers coupled with the creation of a new welfare state benefit: a longterm care benefit that subsidized the employment of in-home care workers to assist dependent elderly and disabled Israelis. This article examines the legal and public policy ramifications of the transformation of Israeli families caused by the influx of migrant care workers into Israeli homes. Exploring the relationship between welfare, immigration, and employment laws, on the one hand, and marketized and non-marketized care relationships, on the other, it reveals the intimate links between public policy, 'private' families, and defamilialization processes.

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Rita Chin, The Guest Worker Question in Postwar Germany (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)

Reviewed by Triadafilos Triadafilopoulos

Dan Hough, Michael Koss and Jonathan Olsen, The Left Party in Contemporary German Politics (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)

Reviewed by Christopher S. Allen

Roger Karapin, Protest Politics in Germany: Movements on the Left and the Right Since the 1960s (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2007)

Reviewed by Philipp Gassert

A. Dirk Moses, German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)

Reviewed by by Robert C. Holub

Barbara Mennel, The Representation of Masochism and Queer Desire in Film and Literature (New York: Palgrave, 2007)

Reviewed by Randall Halle

Sandra Chaney, Nature of the Miracle Years: Conservation in West Germany, 1945-1975 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2008)

Reviewed by Russell J. Dalton

Free access

historiographically dominant focus on male guest workers, this article claims that most flows between Algeria and France involved women and children, as well as men who had settled in France a long time ago. Moreover, it shows a large emigration flow from France to

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Liesa Rühlmann and Sarah McMonagle

Introduction Erkan, the son of ‘guest workers’ who migrated to Germany from Turkey in the 1970s, is asked on the radio where he feels at ‘home’. He responds, ‘Home? It's the language in which I feel at home. That is to say, the languages. Home

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Memories of Migration

Commemoration, Contestation, and Migrant Integration in the United Kingdom and Germany

Barbara Laubenthal and Kevin Myers

decades German immigration policies have evolved, the rhetoric at the anniversaries of the guest worker era, which lasted from the 1950s to 1973, have largely remained the same. In her speech at the 60th anniversary of the labor recruitment agreement with

Open access

Christine Moderbacher

skinny, one of the many sons of Moroccan “guest workers” who had settled down in the district known as Molenbeek, at that time largely deserted. As in many other European cities, this desertion had a particular socioeconomic reason. The economic growth