The Guest Worker Question in Postwar Germany

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Cambridge University Press, Aug 31, 2009 - History - 294 pages
This book provides the first English-language history of the postwar labor migration to West Germany. Drawing on government bulletins, statements by political leaders, parliamentary arguments, industry newsletters, social welfare studies, press coverage, and the cultural production of immigrant artists and intellectuals, Rita Chin offers an account of West German public debate about guest workers. She traces the historical and ideological shifts around the meanings of the labor migration, moving from the concept of guest workers as a "temporary labor supplement" in the 1950s and 1960s to early ideas about "multiculturalism" by the end of the 1980s. She argues that the efforts to come to terms with the permanent residence of guest workers, especially Muslim Turks, forced a major rethinking of German identity, culture, and nation. What began as a policy initiative to fuel the economic miracle ultimately became a much broader discussion about the parameters of a specifically German brand of multiculturalism.

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About the author (2009)

Rita Chin is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. She previously taught at Oberlin College, Ohio. She has received fellowships from the Social Science Research Council and the German Academic Exchange Service, as well as grants from the American Historical Association and the American Philosophical Society. She was recently awarded a fellowship from the Fulbright Program to participate in the German Fulbright Commission's seminar on Muslims in Germany and France.

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