Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Beverly M. Weber

Second Advisor

Jill Heydt-Stevenson

Abstract

The decades-long struggle to define German multicultural society takes place in relationship to state and popular assumptions about the nature of German and Western secularism. Expressions of this struggle include the "mosque debate," in which opponents sought to prevent new mosques in Germany, and discussions about offering Islam instruction in German schools along with Catholic and Protestant lessons. This dissertation addresses the role of the physical body in the recognition, or misrecognition, of "Others" as members of society. By utilizing theories of recognition as a starting point, it analyzes the embodied way in which people claim or grant recognition in a changing, multicultural Germany.
Architecture presents a playing field that reveals the complexity of the problems a multicultural society faces in its "mosque debate," especially when the embodied recognition of Muslims that is needed for positive identity formation is denied. The realms of film and literature offer niches for success for Turkish German artists like Fatih Akin and Emine Sevgi Özdamar, allowing them to develop feelings of belonging through claims to recognition in local, national, and transnational communities. At the same time, funding structures and market pressures lead to a potential trap for artists of Turkish heritage, rewarding a limited focus on immigrant themes, as addressed by writers Hatice Akyün and Lale Akgün. This project, by drawing on theories of recognition to analyze the parameters within which a multicultural society develops niches for embodied recognition, offers new vocabulary for addressing the conditions immigrants face in Germany today. Literature, film, and architecture offer niches in which parity of participation is fought for and partially achieved, and offer opportunities for the development of self-esteem that will ultimately lead to an improved feeling of belonging.