Universität KonstanzExzellenzcluster: Kulturelle Grundlagen von Integration

Ambivalent Identities in Immigrant-Countries

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Giesen, Dr. Valentin Rauer, Yasemin Soytemel


The aim of the project is to analyse cultural positions of actors, which are located in-between cultural communities or transgress these communities. We assume that such in-between positions do not represent a problematical form of social integration per se. Instead in-between positions should rather be considered as the common case. However, under particular circumstances in-between or ambivalent identities may culminate into a general social crisis. In these processes external observers play a crucial role. Whether situations are regarded as integrated or as anomic, vary due to the observers presupposed imaginations of cultural boundaries.

Classical models of assimilation equate cultural boundaries with the boundaries of the nation state. In an almost juxtaposed mode, multiculturalism regards local ethnic boundaries as an a priori. In contrast to both perspectives, in this project the analytical focus is turned to these different modes of presupposed boundaries as such.

We discern three different levels of analysis: firstly, in a conceptional analysis, we develop a structural model of the conditions of in-between positions. Secondly on a meso-level, collective immigrant actors of the religious and public policy field are studied. Particular focus is spent on their cultural “boundaring” under the conditions of public observation. Finally, on a micro-level we study the so called “third Turkish immigrant generation” with particular focus on their way of observing and decoding the public media. With a both quantitative and qualitative method, a questionnaire investigates public cultural heroes. The aim is to analyse the implied boundaring or transgressing meaning of these figures.

Methodologically we refer in general to the concept of “ethno- and mediascapes” and the idea of “macro ethnography” introduced by Appadurai (1991). The concept systematizes the dissociation of the community boundaries from the cultural boundaries. Thus the concept goes beyond the postulate of the hybridization and kreolization of formerly supposed “closed” cultural spaces. Instead the concept draws the attention to the mutual relation between historically traced boundary-structures and the publicly mediated representations of cultural transgressions.