This event will bring together scholars working on the historical and theoretical dimensions of the refugee phenomenon, particularly as it relates to the urban cultures of Istanbul and Berlin. It presents an opportunity to rethink the relation between statelessness and the city throughout the twentieth century.
Turkey hosted a significant number of exiles after the rise of National Socialism in Germany, who received important posts in universities and the country’s building programs during the early Republican period. A large number of refugees sought asylum in Germany due to the coup d’etat of 1980 and the subsequent violence in Turkey, thereby joining the guest workers who had been arriving since 1961.
Today, as we are witnessing the world’s biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War, even more asylum seekers are expected to arrive in Turkey and Germany due to the war in Syria. Additionally, many exiled academics have recently been seeking positions in Berlin with the support of Scholars at Risk and similar programs due to strains on academic freedoms in and Turkey. The “refugee phenomenon” is selected for this conference as an umbrella term to refer to different forms of non-citizenship and statelessness, and as a limiting condition that exposes the crises of citizenship categories in national and international laws. Nothing exposes the contradictions of globalization and the limits of the contemporary human rights regime as effectively as the refugee. This conference will present an opportunity to rethink the relation between statelessness and the city throughout the twentieth century with the most qualified scholars working on immigration, mobility, human rights, and the German-Turkish interactions in the urban humanities fields such as architecture, visual arts, political theory and literature. The event will be composed of two panels, with three speakers and a moderator, where each speaker will be asked to give a 30-minute presentation.