Germany in Transit: Nation and Migration, 1955-2005

Germany in Transit: Nation and Migration, 1955-2005

Germany in Transit: Nation and Migration, 1955-2005

Germany in Transit: Nation and Migration, 1955-2005


How does migration change a nation? Germany in Transit is the first sourcebook to illuminate the country's transition into a multiethnic society--from the arrival of the first guest workers in the mid-1950s to the most recent reforms in immigration and citizenship law. The book charts the highly contentious debates about migrant labor, human rights, multiculturalism, and globalization that have unfolded in Germany over the past fifty years--debates that resonate far beyond national borders.

This cultural history in documents offers a rich archive for the comparative study of modern Germany against the backdrop of European integration, transnational migration, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Divided into eleven thematic chapters, Germany in Transit includes 200 original texts in English translation, as well as a historical introduction, chronology, glossary, bibliography, and filmography.


HOW DOES MIGRATION change a nation? At the beginning of the twentyfirst century, nearly 200 million people reside outside their countries of birth. Their personal histories vary as greatly as the routes that have led them across borders and continents to new homelands. Their presence is often contested, especially in times of war, and the transnational ties they maintain challenge the very idea of a territorially bound nation-state. In Germany, the economic, legal, and cultural transformations associated with global migration have generated fervent public debates over the past fifty years—debates that provide a particularly instructive case study for understanding the dynamics of nation and migration.

Germany’s increasingly diverse immigrant population routinely surpasses efforts to document and represent it. A rough sketch at present would include former guest workers, primarily from Turkey, repatriated ethnic Germans, Jews from the former Soviet Union, asylum seekers and political refugees from Asia and Africa, high-tech industry recruits from India, citizens of other European countries, and an estimated 1.4 million undocumented migrants. According to the 2005 German microcensus, no fewer than 15 million of the country’s current population of 82 million have a “migration background.” This means that every fifth German is an immigrant or has parents or grandparents who came to Germany from elsewhere. Today every third German child is born to non-German parents, and schools in urban centers enroll students of more than 100 nationalities. Large-scale immigration has arguably changed the face of contemporary Germany in more lasting ways than reunification.

This book presents 200 texts and documents that chart Germany’s irreversible transformation into a multiethnic society against the backdrop of the Cold War and European integration. The documentation spans half a century, beginning with the first labor recruitment contract in 1955 and ending with the country’s long-awaited comprehensive immigration legislation in 2005. The collection is divided into eleven thematic clusters that serve as an analytical grid for identifying the divergent yet overlapping aspects of migration history. Using the principle of montage to juxtapose multiple perspectives, we seek to do justice to the complexity of such issues as citizenship, religion, and globalization. Included are a variety of genres, from newspaper editorials, political manifestoes, and legal statutes to interviews, song lyrics . . .

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