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Dr. Ela Gezen: Cultures in Migration: Turkish Artistic Practices in West Berlin
November 28 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
The mid-1970s and early 1980s witnessed the development of a very active Turkish art scene in West Berlin. Numerous cultural institutions were integral to this process, with the Kunstamt Kreuzberg, the Türkischer Akademiker- und Künstlerverein and the Deutsch-Türkische Gesellschaft playing particularly prominent roles. Frequently collaborating with one another, these organizations sponsored recurring cultural events, such as ausländischer Berliner, the Fest auf dem Mariannenplatz and the Türkische Kulturwochen. These public events, financially supported by the Berlin Senate, showcased a variety of genres and media, including music, visual arts, theater, and film; participants and organizers alike aimed to promote Turkish culture in ways that moved beyond the folklorization, Orientalization, and essentialization that had been on offer.
This talk focuses on collaborations between the Kunstamt Kreuzberg and the Türkischer Akademiker- und Künstlerverein which will be discussed as an early manifestation of Turkish self-presentation in West Germany, and more specifically as a key part of the formation of a Turkish public sphere in West Berlin. In addition to reading these as a current within broader efforts to represent Turkish culture as multi-layered and as essential to public-political debates on integration in West Berlin, this talk will also address how we may relate Turkish cultural activities in the early phase of Turkish migration to cultural practices today. An engagement with past practices and their relationship to the present, would prompt us to reconsider Turkish German encounters of the past as situated firmly within discourses on integration while also enabling us to discern their cultural-political legacies in the way they have inflected postmigrant frameworks and contemporary cultural interventions, especially into the debates on supposed threats to “Germanness” that have arisen in the context of immigration and the so-called “refugee crisis.”