Beyond national citizenship: Turkish immigrants and the (re)construction of citizenship in germany

Patricia Ehrkamp, Helga Leitner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


In this paper, we propose a relational perspective on citizenship that captures the meanings and practices of citizenship, and their geographies in the contemporary period of accelerated and globalized movement of people across national boundaries. A relational perspective makes it possible to tease out both the complex articulations of state and civil society in the construction of citizenship, and the intricate local, national and transnational interconnections shaping contemporary state conceptions and social practices of citizenship. Using Turkish immigration to Germany as a case study, we examine the complex negotiations between state and civil society in the (re)construction of German citizenship law, paying particular attention to the role of immigrant institutions in this process. Drawing on an ethnography of Turkish immigrants' social practice of citizenship in Duisburg Marxloh, we show that they simultaneously engage with multiple states and public spheres to express their identities, and confront exclusions and discrimination at multiple scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-146
Number of pages20
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
1This research has been made possible by a NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (Grant BCS-0000282) and a Graduate Faculty Research Partnership Fellowship from the College of Liberal Arts of the University of Minnesota. Ehrkamp would also like to acknowledge support fro the Graduate School of the University of Minnesota and the Association of American Geographers. The authors would like to thank Eric Sheppard, Lynn Staeheli, and Mary Thomas for their thoughtful comments on an earlier version of this paper. 2Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Patricia Ehrkamp, Department of Geography, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056; telephone: 513-529-5023; fax: 513-529-1948; e-mail: 3Guestworkers from Turkey were only recruited actively until 1973. Since then a large number of people from Turkey arrived in Germany by way of family unification, as guestworkers brought their families. In the 1980s and 1990s, additional migrants from Turkey entered Germany as refugees and asylum seekers, including many Kurds fleeing oppression by the Turkish state. 4We have been unable to obtain the percentage of former Turkish citizens who have naturalized in Germany, which is in part due to Germany’s statistical practice so far of counting naturalized immigrants as German nationals only. In addition, variations in the naturalization process and legal changes in naturalization laws over the past ten years make it even more difficult to obtain data on the total number of naturalized immigrants.


  • Citizenship as practice
  • Germany
  • Immigrants-Turkish
  • Transnational citizenship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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