21/02/2024 – Migration Seminar: Categorical Astigmatism in the Study of Migrants in Europe

Migration Seminar: Categorical Astigmatism in the Study of Migrants in Europe

Gülay Türkmen , WZB Berlin Social Science Center

The study of migrant minorities in Europe has long been characterized by a turn to identity politics. This turn has two shortcomings: First, it often conflates religion, ethnicity, and nationality, resulting in what I call “categorical astigmatism”. Consequently, migrant minorities find themselves lumped into categories they would not primarily identify with. Second, despite its importance in the lived experiences of migrant minorities, class is treated as a “non-identity” and intra-migrant class differences do not get the attention they deserve. Building on these two criticisms, in this article, I first employ Bourdieu’s theory of “classification struggles” to conceptualize “categorical astigmatism” and make a plea for categorical clarification. I then suggest the theory of intersectionality as a way out, highlighting the importance of class and its intersection with other markers of difference. Empirically, the paper builds on interviews with migrants from Turkey and Syria in Germany.

About the speaker
Gülay Türkmen is a sociologist and a guest researcher at WZB Berlin Social Science Center. Her work examines how macro-scale historical, cultural and political developments inform questions of belonging and identity-formation in multicultural societies. Her research interests stand at the intersection of politics and religion, as they relate to questions of identity, migration, diversity, pluralism, and citizenship. She is the author of Under the Banner of Islam? Turks, Kurds and the Limits of Religious Unity (Oxford University Press, 2021). She has published in several academic outlets including the Annual Review of SociologyQualitative SociologySociological QuarterlyNations and Nationalism, and New Diversities. Her research and publishing profile can be accessed here

Venue: https://maastrichtuniversity.zoom.us/j/87315078683
Date: 21 February 2024
Time: 16:00 – 17:00  CET

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