on May 13, 2009
This book offers fascinating insight into the German national character and its impact on that countries' struggle with the social integration of it's "guest worker" Turkish population. I always thought that term seemed benign and even friendly, but Mandels' study shows how problematic it is and how symptomatic of a deep ethnic xenophobia. The author was able to immerse herself into both Turkish and German society and the gray areas between them. The resulting analysis is a clear, inside picture of the second or third generations of Turkish immigrants who are considered German in the land of their forbears but not in their adopted country.
on May 24, 2012
in the above book talk the author tells as a striking example of German lingering Nazi ethnic convictions by telling the story of a Turkish girl who flicked her long hair in public so that it touched the arm of her neighbour an elder woman who reacted angrily.
The author takes that as proof of continued Nazi convictions of that woman which proves her ignorance and negligent research, since that reaction would have happened towards a tall slim blond blue eyed female "German biest" just as well. Wearing hair long and loose in public is considered improperly dressed, unkempt. Whether that still applies to the younger generation I do not know but it sure is still engrained in us olders. How much of that aversion to get touched by another person's hair one isn't intimate with is a heritage of our Nazi-past or goes back much longer, I have no idea. Anyway lots of people consider it unclean to get touched by it no matter how neat and well-kept it may look. The reaction is more often than not the same you would have if you'd find a hair in your soup in a restaurant.
But as always when the grievances of our Turkish co-citizens are aired they and those who speak for them are under no obligation to have a closer look but are perfectly within their right, to put always the worst imaginable label on it.
I have lived and worked abroad also - rule number one if you want to get along: Don't jump to conclusions and if you feel discriminated, inquire but not from your age group only.
Since the author poses in the presentation as an academic I consider her anecdote improper.