Graduate Colloquium: "We called for labor but people came instead"

Thursday, April 5, 2012 - 9:30am
Meyerson Hall, Room G-12, at Penn's Institute for Urban Research

Author: Osman Balkan, a graduate student in political science, will present his paper on guest worker migration and patterns of neighborhood change in Kreuzberg, Berlin.

Discussant: Dr. Eric Jarosinski, Professor of German language and literature.

Location: Meyerson Hall, Room G-12, at Penn's Institute for Urban Research

Abstract: "We called for labor but people came instead": Guest worker migration and patterns of neighborhood change in Kreuzberg, Berlin

Between 1960-1973, more than 2.5 million foreign workers came to Germany as part of the "Gastarbeiter" (guest worker) program, an official recruitment initiative to address shortages in the domestic labor market. Though it was assumed that their stay would be temporary, many workers became permanent residents and took advantage of reunification policies to bring their families to live with them. The long-term residence of foreign laborers has raised a number of questions about immigration and national identity in Germany. This paper focuses on settlement patterns and conflicts over urban development in Kreuzberg, Berlin, a historically working class neighborhood that has undergone significant demographic and economic transformation. Portrayed as both a Turkish enclave and as an epicenter of counter-culture, Kreuzberg has served as an important site for debates about integration and struggles over neighborhood change. Through an analysis of the structural conditions of the Berlin housing market and the mobilized opposition to large scale urban renewal projects in the 1980s and 2000s, Osman aims to demonstrate the evolution of demographic changes in Kreuzberg and the terms under which an 'authentic' vision of the neighborhood was constructed and defended.