Volume 20, No. 1, Art. 4 – January 2019

Different Kinds of Artifacts—Different Ways of Self-Presenting. Turkish Migrants in the 1960s and 1970s in Germany as Transmigrants

Meltem Karadag & Alexandra König

Abstract: This article is based on a Turkish-German cooperation project that focused on the migration of workers from Turkey to Germany during the 1960s and 1970s. The research interest has been to look at the ways of self-presenting and self-positioning of the so called Gastarbeiter [guest workers]. We approached this phenomenon by looking at the Gastarbeiter from a transnational perspective. Our argumentation is based on artifacts of two cases of married couples leaving their children with the grandparents in Turkey. For both cases, we analyzed different kinds of material from an archive, which included: 1. pictures from the 1960s and 1970s made in Germany, 2. an audio cassette from the 1970s recorded by the grandparents presenting the life of the child in Turkey, and 3. a semi-structured interview conducted by the archival personnel with a family member, approximately 20 years after migration. These two cases and the related artifacts allowed us to investigate cross-border as well as local practices with regard to ways of self-presenting and self-positioning. Furthermore, on the basis of this explorative study, methodological questions are discussed which concern both the use of different data formats and the relevance of working in a binational team, more precisely, in a transnational project.

Key words: transnational families; self-presentation; Turkey; Gastarbeiter; artifacts; data archive; photographs; interview

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Gastarbeiter as Transmigrants

3. The Selection of Data and Analytical Strategies

3.1 The selection of transnational families

3.2 The selection of artifacts

3.3 The selection of analytical strategies

4. Results

4.1 Presentation as a family

4.2 Presentation in the public

5. Conclusion







1. Introduction

Germany and Turkey are connected by a long history of migration. One of the most important phases in this history is the so called Gastarbeiter era1) that started in 1961, when the "Agreement on the Recruitment of Workers" between Germany and Turkey became effective (ICDUYGU, 2012). In 1962, already about 10.000 migrants from Turkey lived in Germany (PUSCH, 2013). From then until 1973, around "865.000 workers from Turkey entered the Federal Republic of Germany, many of whom later returned to Turkey [...]. Of these migrants, 21.4 per cent were women" (GÜLTEKIN, INOWLOCKI & LUTZ, 2003, §23). As PUSCH (2013) states, at the end of this recruitment period in 1973 as many as half a million people from Turkey lived in Germany. Nevertheless, the number of migrants from Turkey continued to rise, mostly as a result of family reunifications. The number of Turkish citizens living in Germany reached 1.5 million in 2017, accounting for the largest portion of the total foreign population in the country (STATISTISCHES BUNDESAMT, 2018). [1]

Studies over the past decades have provided important information on the changing social stratification in the course of Turkish migration to Germany as well as on the integration and acculturation of Turkish Gastarbeiter and their descendants, the so called second generation (GRIESE, 2013). However, very little is currently known about the ways Turkish migrants coming to Germany in the 1960s and 1970s positioned and presented themselves. As a binational team from Turkey (Meltem KARADAG) and Germany (Alexandra KÖNIG), we undertook an explorative study to address this research gap. We adopted a transnational perspective because Turkish migrants might position and present themselves vis-à-vis persons in Germany as well as in Turkey. This is especially true for our cases: we focus on Gastarbeiter in Germany with one or more children left behind in Turkey. In this family constellation it is quite probable that the "immigrants forge and sustain simultaneous multi-stranded social relations" (GLICK SCHILLER, BASCH & SZANTON BLANC, 1995, p.48) that go along with different (maybe contradictory) processes of self. As we were interested in processes of self-presenting and self-positioning, artifacts seemed to be ideal research material, especially photos from the 1960s and 1970s. Access to artifacts of Turkish migrants in Germany was made possible by the Dokumentationszentrum und Museum über die Migration in Deutschland (DOMiD) [Documentation Center and Museum of Migration in Germany],2) an institution in Cologne collecting and archiving materials that document migration history. To gain a deep understanding of the self-positioning and self-presenting of Gastarbeiter, in this article we focus on transnational families who donated different kinds of artifacts to the archive—especially photographs but also verbal documents. The idea behind this approach is that different types of artifacts allow different ways of self-presenting and self-positioning. [2]

The article is divided into four parts. In Section 2 we give a brief overview of the "transnational turn" in migration research and argue why a transnational perspective could be fruitful for our research. In Section 3 we describe the families selected and artifacts analyzed. In Section 4 we discuss preliminary findings of our explorative project, focusing on two key areas: Firstly, we present some results concerning the ways of self-presenting and positioning of Gastarbeiter as a family, and secondly, in the public. We end with a conclusion and discuss methodological questions concerning the use of different formats of data as well as the relevance of working in a binational team, more precisely, in a transnational project. [3]

2. Gastarbeiter as Transmigrants

The "transnational turn in empirical migration research" (AMELINA, FAIST & NERGIZ, 2016) is widely discussed.3) One important milestone in this debate is the often quoted anthropological work of GLICK SCHILLER et al. (1995). They argue that "a concept of 'transnationalism' would allow researchers to take into account the fact that immigrants live their lives across national borders and respond to the constraints and demands of two or more states" (p.54) They use the word "transmigrant" for "immigrants whose daily lives depend on multiple and constant interconnections across international borders and whose public identities are configured in relationship to more than one nation-state" (p.48). Transmigrants do not only link two national societies by cross-border interactions and practices, they also create a "transnational social space" (FAIST, FAUSER & REISENAUER 2013, p.53; see also DAHINDEN, 2013, p.83). Such a space (often named "transnational field") can be defined "as pluri-local frames of reference that structure everyday practices, social positions, biographical employment projects and human identities, while simultaneously existing above and beyond the social context of national societies" (PRIES & SEELIGER, 2012, p.230). These are "pluri-local nation-states spanning configurations composed of genuine social practices, significant symbols and artifacts with relatively high density and stability" (ibid.). [4]

Although there is a wide debate and a plurality of perspectives within this approach, one common motive is to challenge "methodological nationalism" (BECK, 2007; WIMMER & GLICK SCHILLER, 2002) and to criticize the "assimilative logics of the nation state paradigm" (APITZSCH & SIOUTI, 2007, p.15).4) Consequently, from a transnational perspective, migrants are not automatically investigated against the backdrop of a nation-state. That does not signify that the nation-state is not relevant anymore, but the "units of reference [...] cannot be considered as taken for granted" (PRIES & SEELIGER, 2012, p.233). This means, neither the nation-state nor the world system is the only possible framework of investigation (ibid.). Whether and when Gastarbeiter are either immigrants or transmigrants is an empirical question. [5]

The existing body of research on Turkish migrants suggests that there is a dense and long lasting cross-border interchange between migrants living in Germany and members of their family staying in Turkey (PRIES, 2013). In a recent mixed methods project, FAUSER and REISENAUER (2013) quantified transnational relations and reconstructed a variety of transnational spaces on the basis of qualitative interviews with Turkish migrants. According to the authors, not all cross-border practices are frequent, and the relationships change over the passage of time (p.175). Other researchers suggest that the density and extent of transnational practices has increased fundamentally due to technical, economic, social and cultural changes, e.g., communication technology (APITZSCH & SIOUTI, 2007; PRIES, 2013).5) However, cross-border practices are not a new phenomenon. For instance, THOMAS and ZNANIECKI (1918-1920) already investigated cross-border communication and orientations in their classic study "The Polish Peasant in Europe and America." Accordingly, it can be assumed that cross-border practices were relevant for migrants in different time periods, and were also the case for Gastarbeiter in Germany in the 1960s and 1970s, but they were not in the focus of migration research (DAHINDEN, 2013). [6]

In this article, we add to the considerable amount of transnational, micro-level research on migrants from Turkey living in Germany (PRIES, 2013). Our proposal is to apply the transnational perspective to the Gastarbeiter, which is especially fruitful when investigating processes of self-presenting and self-positioning. We relate to the concept as it was formulated by George Herbert MEAD (1967 [1934]) and further developed by Erving GOFFMAN (1959) and Anselm STRAUSS (1997 [1959]). From such an interactionist perspective the self is not fixed but constantly (re-) produced, depending on relevant others and the social context. Therefore, the researcher has to take into account the definition of the context of the migrants as well as the variety of contexts and persons they interact with. A transnational perspective allows the researcher to pay attention to possible relevant others in the land of origin as well as in the receiving country whereas a "methodological nationalism" would rather limit the view. [7]

Here, we focus on cross-border practices of families living apart together. As FAULSTICH ORELLANA, THORNE, CHEE and LAM argued, transnational practices "have mostly been studied with economic, labor, and political transactions at the forefront" (2001, p.573). Similar focal points are identified by APITZSCH and SIOUTI (2007) in their review of (quantitative) migration studies in Germany. These studies were mostly policy oriented, concentrate on economic and professional aspects and rarely present female migration.6) This is even more true with regard to children (EMOND & ESSER, 2015).7) Generally, those family members left behind in the land of origin have been ignored for a long time by researchers, especially in Germany. [8]

In recent years, the body of literature on female migrants, transnational families, motherhood (seldomly fatherhood) and childhood has increased. But with regard to the transnational space between Turkey and Germany there is still little research on the private sphere and personal cross-border interactions, apart from some studies on marriage and media consumption (FAUSER & REISENAUER, 2013). However, research on migrants in the US (for example: HONDAGNEU-SOTELO & AVILA, 1997; MENJÍVAR, 2002), in Italy (BOCCAGNI, 2012; FEDYUK, 2012) and in the UK (GARDNER & MAND, 2012) focuses more intensively on transnational family constellations. Furthermore, there are some current research projects which concentrate on family members left behind, such as the multi-sited ethnography of FRESNOZA-FLOT (2014) about transnational families living in the Philippines and France, or the study of CHRIST (2017) who investigated the children's perception of their families from an intersectional perspective. They provide an indication of the contribution of children or other family members left behind towards forming a transnational family. Especially a child left behind in the land of origin is a key factor for family stabilization.8) [9]

In our study we focused on Gastarbeiter who work and reside in Germany while their children remain in Turkey. This allowed us to explore ways of self-presenting and self-positioning towards significant others in Turkey as well as in Germany. [10]

3. The Selection of Data and Analytical Strategies

3.1 The selection of transnational families

This article is based on material acquired by DOMiD. DOMiD archives a wide range of material including photos, letters, newspapers, clothes, toys, working contracts and many other things that document the history of immigration to Germany. Some of the documents are supplemented by information about the donor and the artifact. These artifacts document ways of self-presenting and self-positioning. [11]

Inasmuch as there are few studies about strategies of self-presenting and self-positioning of Gastarbeiter, we selected information-rich cases for in-depth study. "Information-rich cases are those from which one can learn a great deal about issues of central importance to the purpose of the research, thus the term purposeful sampling" (PATTON, 1990, p.169). In the first stage, we looked for transnational families belonging to the so called Gastarbeiter generation from Turkey who had donated several artifacts and who shared a family arrangement which was widespread among these migrants: During the first phases of immigration they left their young children with their grandparents in Turkey.9) On this basis, we followed a "maximum variation sampling strategy." This strategy for purposeful sampling "would not be attempting to generalize findings to all people or all groups but would be looking for information that elucidates programmatic variation and significant common patterns within that variation" (p.172). To maximize variation in a small sample we identified three criteria for constructing the sample: the social position the family members had held in Turkey, the sequence of migration and their social position in Germany. These aspects seem to be relevant in order to understand the ways of self-presenting and self-positioning of Gastarbeiter. We chose two families with diverse artifacts in the archive varying with regard to these criteria: Firstly, these two families differ in the social position they had held in Turkey. In Case A, the man, having a high school or university degree, and the woman at least having completed primary school if not higher, were better educated than those in Case B (and the average family in Turkey at that time). The man in Case A had been a civil servant in Ankara; the woman worked there as well, but her occupation is not known. In Case B, the man as well as the woman had a low level of education, probably only completing primary school. We know nothing about their occupational status, except that the prospect of working as a miner in Germany was attractive for the man. They came from a city near the Black Sea region where many people work in coal mines or in related occupational fields. Secondly, the sequence of migration differs in these two cases: In Case A, the woman migrated first. At that time, she was unmarried, but she already knew her husband-to-be. After a year, they married and her husband followed her to Germany. One year later, she gave birth to their daughter who spent her childhood with her grandparents in Turkey. A second child was born some years later. In Case B, the husband migrated first. One year later, his wife—the couple had married some years before he left Turkey—followed him with their son, who was born in the same year. But the son lived most of the time in Turkey until the age of 17. A daughter was born some years later and stayed in Turkey until finishing primary school. Thirdly, the cases differ with regard to their social position in Germany. Women A worked in Munich for a big company while Man B found an occupation as a miner in Germany's industrial area.10) Regarding the sequence of migration as well as the social positions, Case B was a typical family from Turkey at this time, while Case A was a rather untypical one.


Case A

Case B

Educational status



Professional status in Turkey

Man: Civil servant in Ankara

Woman: Working in Ankara

Unknown (man probably worker in a in coal mine)

Order of migration

Woman one year before man

Man one year before woman

Time of marriage

Before the migration of the man

Before the migration of the man

Birth of the first child11)

Daughter: One year after the man migrated

Son: In the year of the migration of the woman

Professional status in Germany

Man: Unknown

Woman: Working in a big company (position unknown)

Man: Miner
Woman: Worker in a glass factory

Table 1: Characteristics of the selected cases [12]

The two cases are sufficiently similar (both couples working in Germany and leaving their children behind in Turkey) and at the same time contrastive enough (with regard to social positions and sequences of migration) to allow an analytically fruitful comparison (GLASER & STRAUSS, 1967; FLYVBJERG, 2006).12) The "maximum variation sampling strategy" allows the researcher to more thoroughly "understand variations in experiences while also investigating core elements and shared outcomes" (PATTON, 1990, p.172). [13]

3.2 The selection of artifacts

A preferred approach to transnational research is multi-sited ethnography where the ethnographers are highly mobile and follow the migrants in order to grasp transnational networks (FAIST, 2013; NIESWAND, 2011).13) In our research we trailed migrants through visual and verbal artifacts. All documents selected and reused for our scientific purpose belonged to the two families: pictures from both, an audio cassette recorded by members of Case A in Turkey, and an interview with the woman from Case B made by DOMiD. [14]

The decision to use artifacts was based on the consideration that not only people are on the move but also artifacts—such as pictures, letters, audio cassettes or presents—cross borders. We are not sure about the movement (and function) of every artifact in our sample, but there are some like the cassette or pictures which were sent from one country to the other and served to stabilize the transnational space (FEDYUK, 2012).14) However, artifacts that do not cross borders may also strengthen the transnational space, for instance, pictures made of family members during their stay in the other country: When the family members are gone, the artifacts stay. [15]

As mentioned above, different kinds of artifacts were available for both cases in the archive. First of all, we looked through their pictures from the late 1960s and early 1970s.15) Pictures give insights to "places visited, houses built, and domestic appliances bought, and about domestic life and family rituals" (THOMSON, 2011, p.180). In addition to this, they present the "subjective meaning of experience and the ways in which migrants made sense of the new country" (ibid.). From a methodological perspective, photos do not depict life; they are rather a way of narrating life.16) THOMSON explains that photos which were sent to family members in the land of origin are based on a multistage decision process, following the

"idea of what was visually important—according to both personal attitude and wider family and social expectation [...]: what to photograph and in what way; which images to select and to send; how to arrange and juxtapose photos; which words to caption and define the image; and which photos to keep forever. These decisions shaped the photographic narrative and defined family life history in particular ways" (p.172).17) [16]

Concerning the question what is worth being photographed, we identified two central subjects depicted in the photos of our two families:18) On the one hand, there are many pictures of the child. These pictures were either taken by the grandparents (or other family members) in Turkey and sent to the parents in Germany. Or they were made by the parents, documenting the visits of the child to Germany. On the other hand, there are a lot of pictures of the adults with friends in Germany. These two subjects attracted our attention, not only because of their dominance. They also provided valuable insights into two different forms of self-presentation: ways of presenting as a family as well as persons in the public sphere, in interaction with peers. Due to this research interest we selected pictures showing 1. family life in private in Germany, and 2. meetings of the woman with (German) friends in public. Each case is represented by two pictures. By analyzing the artifacts, we wanted to reveal what kind of family life is narrated and what kind of (public) self is presented by them.


Case A

Case B

Photos from Germany19)

Figure 1: With the daughter in private

Figure 3: With friends in public

Figure 2: With the son in private

Figure 4: With friends in public

Cassette from Turkey

Recorded by the grandparents, the daughter, an uncle and an aunt




Conducted by DOMiD in 1990s

Table 2: Material of the selected cases [17]

In addition to visual we also use verbal data. It has been argued that analyzing visual data goes hand in hand with the difficulty that the researcher relies too much on his or her own interpretations (DEN BESTEN, 2010, §15).20) One recommended solution to this issue is to triangulate different kinds of data. We followed this recommendation, but not as a strategy to validate our visual analysis. In fact, "[v]isual methodologies can provide insights that are not available through other methods, but they can also complement, corroborate and/or challenge non-visual methodologies" (BALL & GILLIGAN, 2010, §71). In our study, adding verbal data is primarily a strategy to gain a more complex insight into the examined phenomenon. For Case A, we have an audio cassette recorded by family members in Turkey as a greeting to those in Germany (Source: DOMiD, CD019221)). The daughter was about four years old when it was recorded.22) For Case B, we used a semi-structured interview with the woman conducted by DOMiD for an exhibition on the history of Turkish labor migration to Germany.23) In our analysis of the interview we focused on passages in which she talks about her ties to Turkey and transnational motherhood. These passages were transcribed and translated. [18]

3.3 The selection of analytical strategies

Our analysis is guided by the principles of the grounded theory methodology as elaborated by STRAUSS (1987).24) Of course, we do not claim to generate a "conceptually dense theory" (p.17) based on the two cases. Rather we want to "discover" relevant categories and identify first linkages among them in order to gain insights into a relatively unexplored field. Moreover, analyzing the data in a transnational team can be fruitful in raising generative questions. Indeed, the diversity of the "experiential data" of the researchers (with regard to social science literature as well as personal experiences) enhances the analysis "whether in the form of specific hypotheses and concepts or, more diffusely, an informed theoretical sensitivity" (p.11). For the interpretation of the verbal data we follow the coding procedures STRAUSS suggested. For the analysis of the pictures we take inspiration from the approach of BOHNSACK (2008) and his reflections on planimetric composition.25) Our use of different kinds of data helped us to generate more analytical questions (GLASER & STRAUSS, 1967) and to develop further the categories and linkages among them. Our objective was to gain on the one hand a more complex understanding of the (somehow contradictory) processes of self-presenting and self-positioning of Turkish Gastarbeiter, and on the other hand to learn more about the restrictions placed on self-presentation by the type of artifact. [19]

4. Results

4.1 Presentation as a family

4.1.1 Family A: A child-centered family—Cross-border negotiation processes

Figure 1 shows Family A. Father, mother and child are sitting at a table festively laid with fine china tableware for four to six people, still unused and a big cream cake in the middle.

Figure 1: Family A in Germany in the 1970s (Source: DOMiD, BT 1015,198) [20]

For the researcher from Germany it is quite a familiar scene—this kind of cake and tableware are typical for family celebrations.26) In the center of the picture, directly placed behind the cake, the child stands on a chair, with her father and mother sitting on her left and right side. The parents hold her close. While mother and child are smiling into the camera, the father looks up at his daughter. The planimetric composition (BOHNSACK, 2008) of the picture is dominated by the child, not only because of the way the family is posing, but also because of her position in the picture. Her central position is highlighted by the white background, in striking contrast to the dark background to the right and to the left of her. A spiral-shaped decoration, directly over her head, looks like a funny headdress. All three are quite formally dressed—the man with a tie, vest and white shirt, the woman with a white top, and the child with a dress in a 1970's style and pattern. At the right side of the picture, only half of a female person is visible. All in all, the picture tells a story of a child-centered core family, with loving parents and a happy child. Nobody else is important in (and for) this photo. The guests have to wait until this moment is documented. We know from the comments added to the picture in the archive that the picture was taken on the daughter's third birthday, which was celebrated in Germany. Besides the central position of the daughter, there is no clue that it is taken at a child's birthday party. There are, for instance, no presents or other children visible. But the cake, the decorated table as well as the formal attire indicates a family celebration, or a celebration of the family itself. Besides this photo, there are a lot of other photos in the archive showing the daughter—in a Bavarian costume, on holiday, playing in the garden or celebrating birthdays. Pictures like these are, "above all, about family and about recreating family identity" as THOMSON (2011, p.173) pointed out with regard to female British migrants in Australia. In our Case A, the family seems to be arranged around a happy child—as seen in the picture taken on the child's third birthday. Compared to the picture of her first birthday (not displayed here) the picture above signifies also—with its tableware and the dresses—the upward mobility and success of the migration for the whole family. [21]

What these pictures do not show is that these cheerful family activities were an exception rather than a common practice. They depict rare moments when the family members were reunited during holidays.27) When we listened to the cassette we became acquainted with a more complex story of the family. This recording was made when the girl was living with her grandparents in Turkey. During the recording the grandparents are present most of the time, along with the girl's aunt and uncle and a friend of the family who was also living in Germany and visiting the grandparents. The recording comprises different parts, whereby in all of them the daughter is present. In the beginning, the girl and the uncle are alone in a room, and the man encourages her to talk and sing a Turkish song for her parents. But soon the girl becomes bored and they decide to join the others in the living room. In a second sequence, the grandmother asks the girl about her eating habits, such as the quantity of milk she drinks in the morning, and then reports the girl's weight. Another sequence is arranged like a radio talk show, in which the parents in Germany are addressed directly. The uncle takes on the role of a presenter and introduces all of the people present one by one, starting with the grandfather of the child: "Now you are going to listen to the messages from Mr. [name of Grandfather A] during our Ankara broadcast."28) After being introduced, the grandfather starts to explain the status of the child's documents, which the friend of the family will bring to Germany the following week. Concluding this organizational aspect, he refers to a letter explaining everything in detail. He closes with the words, "I kiss the eyes of both of you," a common expression used when addressing a younger person. Next, the uncle in a radio-like style introduces the grandmother using her full name. She starts her statement as follows:

"My dear children, we are all fine. As you can hear [name of Child A] is very healthy; she is happy and fine. We are trying to raise her as well as we can. The whole house fusses over her and we love her. It would be so difficult for us to be apart from her. It would be a massacre for us if you tore us apart. I am speaking from my heart. You should have considered this before you left. Because ... This is why her aunt and we want to take care of her education, decide what to do with regard to her education together with you. The kid will never forget you. We don't allow her to forget you. We always remind her of you. She tells us 'my mother says this and my father does that.' The whole day she tells us these stories about you. In fact, there is nothing to worry about. We are all fine here [...]." [22]

Up next, the aunt [sister of Man A in Germany] is invited to say something. Her message is as follows:

"Dear brother and [name of Woman A in Germany], I don't have much to add to what was said before. [...] [Name of Child A]'s learning level is better than other kids of her age ... as you can also see while listening to her talk. As adults we think that we are not (good) enough for her as we cannot play with her like other children could, so we plan to enroll her in a kindergarten. We assume that if she goes to kindergarten she will make friends and learn more. (That is because we want to enroll her in kindergarten later on.) [...] when it is time for her to go to primary school we will consider what is best for her, and we will support her to get the best education. Of course, it is a fact that a child must be with its mother and father in order to get the best upbringing. That is why we all wish that you will move back here in the near future." [23]

Subsequently, a passage follows where the child and other family members are dancing to music. As in the picture, the child is the center of attention. The cassette functions as evidence that the child is not neglected and well provided for, despite the parents' absence. The family members in Turkey provide plenty of proof for this: The physical development is indicated by the weight of the child; her happiness is documented in many pictures as well as on the cassette (when singing some cheerful Turkish songs and reciting poems) and her intellectual and educational levels are positively evaluated in comparison to other children of her age. Based on this set of criteria, a good childhood is presented and seems to be assured by people who care about her and love her. Furthermore, the recording and photos from Turkey present a good middle-class childhood. For example, sending a child to kindergarten was more common in the more privileged families at this time in Turkey (AGIRDAG, YAZICI & SIERENS, 2015). [24]

All in all, the recording indicates that the parents have made a responsible decision to assign the tasks associated with good parenthood to the grandparents, who have carried them out well. However, this presentation of a happy and well-developed child in Turkey does not affect the status of the parents who are living in Germany. They still are expected to decide basic questions (for example, educational ones), care about the well-being of the child, and will "never" be forgotten by her. Most of the literature on transnational parenthood shows how parents try to maintain their status as parents—by sending money or making telephone calls (CARLING et al., 2012). However, our analysis has shown that the family members in the land of origin not only took care of the child but also co-produced good parenthood and confirmed the status of the parents. Furthermore, they also created an alternative family constellation. By presenting an ideal environment for the child, the family in Turkey is placed in direct competition with the family branch presented in the pictures of Germany. This competitiveness is obvious in the statement of the grandmother that the parents would "massacre" her if they took the child to Germany. Many researchers discuss the relevance of the support between migrants and other family members staying in the country of origin (THOMSON, 1999). HONDAGNEU-SOTELO and AVILA (1997, p.561), using the example of Latinos working in the USA, show that the biological grandparents' homes were considered the best places for children who remained in the country of origin. In return for this child care, the parents had to show "appreciation and gratitude to the caregiver, in part, for the sake of the children's well-being" (ibid.). Sending money is one relevant way of showing gratitude (FAULSTICH ORELLANA et al., 2001). But grandparents can not only claim money or material things for themselves and the child, they can also apply emotional pressure on their own children to come back to their family.29) The grandmother of Family A addressed her son and daughter-in-law as actors who are responsible for the well-being of the elder generation. From this we can assume that the obedience of the younger generation was not regarded as sufficient or could not be taken for granted. Instead, the grandmother reproduced the generational order by reminding the migrating couple of their obligations towards them.30) She was supported by the aunt who tried to paint a picture of a positive future when the parents would return for good and the whole family would be reunited and take care of the child together. In this way, the audio cassette from Turkey shows that the family members in Turkey had the power to support, but also to question the desired presentation of a child-centered and happy family. [25]

By using the pictures and the audio cassette in the research process, we were able to gain a better understanding of transnational families and the ambivalences they are confronted with. It is not our intention to show that the pictures taken in Germany presented a delusion of family life by confronting them with the documents from Turkey. Rather these pictures show which situations the parents in Germany saw as worthwhile to document; how they liked to see and present themselves and how they wanted to be remembered. Nevertheless, the artifacts from Turkey provide an additional definition of the situation and reveal that the ties to the family members in the land of origin are strong and dependency on them is quite high. The grandparents did reaffirm the presentation of the "good parents," but they also offered a presentation of "good grandparents" and verbalized what they expected from their children. The migration entailed a cross-border negotiation process between the parents and the family members caring for the children left in Turkey. In this negotiating process artifacts were quite relevant. [26]

4.1.2 Family B: A respectable family with a well-behaved child—from Turkey

Figure 2 shows a situation at a table too. Family B, father, mother and child are photographed while eating. Although the child sits between its father and mother, and is nearly in the center of the picture, this arrangement is less child-centered than in Case A. All family members are concentrating on the meal, more precisely: their own bowl in front of them. It is a presentation of a respectable family with a well-behaved child.

Figure 2: Family B in Germany in the 1960s (Source: DOMiD, A1001190) [27]

The way they have dinner and also the relatively formal dress of the family members (especially the man, wearing a tie) represent a westernized life style and an aspiration to upward mobility. Having meals at the table became popular for the middle class in Turkey at the beginning of the 20th century, whereby in rural areas even privileged families continued to have their meal on the floor during the 1950s (DUBEN & BEHAR 1996; KARADAG, 2009).31) So it can be assumed that the Western style of eating was not common but well known in the region Family B is from. Bearing this in mind, it would be a hasty interpretation to understand the setting merely as an indication of assimilation in Germany, because it also represents a distinctive way of living in Turkey.32) Nevertheless, the bowls; the modest tableware; the table cloth, presumably made of plastic, do not represent the German middle class. All in all, Case B can be seen as a quite typical Turkish migrant family that is economically deprived but with status aspiration. And the child, in the middle of the picture, is a part of this family project presented in the picture. [28]

Further documents reveal that the photo depicts a special occasion when the son, who was living in Turkey, visited his parents. For our analysis, we used in addition to pictures verbal data from Family B, more precisely, an interview with the woman. This interview was conducted by DOMiD, approximately twenty years after migration. Amongst other things, in the interview Woman B reflects on leaving her children in Turkey, during the first years in Germany:

"Would it have been better if we had kept our children with us rather than being homesick because of leaving them in Turkey? Sometimes I think about it and in the end I came to the conclusion that leaving them in Turkey and being homesick was a bit better than having them in Germany with us. In Germany, you had to leave your children with people and in institutions you do not know. We had seen our friends' kids. They had grown up here and they did not know their culture and most of them did not know their homeland. They took on the morals of the people who brought them up." [29]

In retrospective, she presents herself as a good mother and legitimizes her decision as acting in the best interest of the child. For one thing, she argues that good childhood means to grow up as a part of a cultural (Turkish) collective. So, she does not refer to the individual needs of her specific child but the general need of people to be integrated in a (Turkish) collective to legitimize her action. Taking the children with her would have meant separating them from their homeland and their culture. According to her argumentation, growing up with family members in Turkey is the best way to instill a Turkish identity. The tight connection between the Turkish collective and (their) children becomes especially apparent when she speaks of her emotions when she saw a Turkish flag for the first time again after a long while: "When I saw the Turkish flag in Kapikule [crossing point on the border of Turkey and Bulgaria] I cried a lot. I have never forgotten this because I was apart from my child. I shouted 'Long live Turkey'." [30]

The yearning for her children is strongly linked with homesickness for Turkey. From her perspective taking the children with her and separating them from Turkey would have been an egoistic decision. Additional evidence that she is a good mother and only acts in the interest of her children is her suffering because of the separation. She viewed the issue of the separation not from the perspective of her children and their subjective well-being but as her sacrifice (being homesick) for them. This idea of sacrifice is complementary to the expectation of gratefulness from the children (CHRIST, 2017; FRESNOZA-FLOT, 2014; MILLER & MADIANOU, 2012)—in accordance with a hierarchical generational order. [31]

4.1.3 Variations of presentations as a family

The two pictures discussed above show family life in private. Both pictures present a core family sitting around a table—one is of a child-centered, close family and the other of a respectable family with a well-behaved child. While the visual data allowed identification of different forms of family presentation, the verbal data revealed criteria for and proof of good parenthood and childhood. For both families, the child's well-being appears to be a central factor, but they enact it in different ways: In Case A, the family members try to define what is best for their (specific) child by referring to child development standards, comparing her with her peers and emphasizing the loving environment they ensure. The happy and well-developed child presented is the proof of a good childhood and parenthood. In Case B, the mother stresses the importance of children (in general) being culturally embedded as part of the Turkish collective. Her own suffering—as a result of leaving the child behind—is her evidence of good motherhood. [32]

With this unambiguous positioning in the Turkish culture, Mother B seems to refuse to build on transnational capital; a transnational orientation is seen as a danger for the child and its Turkish identity. In this regard, the relatively privileged Family A is more open. A transnational orientation or cosmopolitism33) seems to be a question of social position, as some authors argue: "Openness to diversity as well as mobility is only affordable to those who possess the educational and economic resources for taking advantage of the opportunities offered by globalization" (COULANGEON, 2017, p.159; see also DAHINDEN, 2013). But when looking at the pictures presenting the migrants with friends in Germany, as we will do in the next section, this argumentation seems to be too simple. [33]

4.2 Presentation in the public

In the two pictures provided below, the women are presented with female friends in Germany.

Figure 3: Woman A with a friend (of hers) in the 1960s (Source: DOMiD, BT 0675,4)

Figure 4: Woman B with a friend (of hers) in the 1960s (Source: DOMiD, BT 0485,7a) [34]

In Case A, the (unmarried) woman migrated first and worked in a large company in Germany. In Figure 3 we see her standing next to a friend of hers who is on a bike. They are in front of the dormitory of the company they work for. There are no folkloristic things or local tourist attractions visible, just ordinary life. Furthermore, the Turkish women's faces do not express

"the satisfied look of the successful immigrant [...]. Nor is it the scared 'deer in headlights' look of immigrants about to board ship or to disembark in the new country [...]. Nor again is it the suffering look on the blackened faces of miners or railroad workers" (SERRA, 2013, p.67). [35]

In contrast to this image the women (one an immigrant and one a German) in this snapshot look self-assured and seem to be enjoying themselves. Woman A presents and positions herself as a well-established member of German society. [36]

Figure 4 shows Woman B, standing beside a woman who is more in the center of the picture. Both are dressed in a similar style. They pose close together smiling shyly into the camera, demonstrating their similarity and closeness. This picture was sent to Turkey as the comment on the back "German friend" (written in Turkish) indicates. Therefore, it is the way Woman B wanted to present herself to her family in Turkey. In the interview, she talked about her German friend Eva, presumably the woman in this picture:

"[Eva] helped me a lot. I used to ask her everything, for example, about the letters of the alphabet. I can say that I even learned letters from her [...] She was also an ordinary person like me. We got along very well. Even if we could not communicate in German we used sign language. My knowledge of German language dates back to those days." [37]

Looking at the picture, one cannot tell which of them is more familiar with the country where they are living. [38]

The archive is full of pictures showing ordinary life in Germany—carnival parties, excursions to amusement parks and social gatherings. Many of these pictures give no indication that the lives of (trans-) migrants are represented.34) In this aspect, they are similar to the pictures taken in the time period following World War II in the USA, as Maris THOMPSON concludes (2011, p.159): "In these images, the focus is no longer on representing family homesteads or humble family origins but on picturing casual and sometimes lavish moments of entertainment outside of the home." These images convey new middle-class ideals, desires for belonging as well as ways of realizing them. [39]

Comparing different kinds of artifacts of Case B, for instance the retrospective interview with Woman B and the pictures above, leads to a degree of confusion: Whereas we do not see clear indications of a Turkish background in the pictures (in Figure 2 the shoes of Woman B may give a hint), the interview transmits a feeling of strong national identification. According to BRECKNER (2014, p.16f.) national identity is not a stable category:

"Biographical practices of doing a national or ethnic identity can change profoundly in a lifetime, in generational, milieu and many other contexts. Therefore, a collective identity is nothing given but something to become, even though it seems like we have it already by being part of an already structured social sphere, e.g. by being born within a territory, ethnic community or by other ascriptive criteria placing us right from the beginning of our life." [40]

By comparing the two cases it becomes more obvious that national or ethnic positioning can vary widely, not only in a lifetime but also within a period of life in different situations and social networks. In our case, collective belonging became (in retrospect) a subject of importance for Woman B when speaking about her responsibility as a mother and legitimizing her decision. However, at least in the early stages of migration, collective belonging was hardly apparent in the public sphere, outside of the transnational, generational network. [41]

5. Conclusion

In our research project we focused on Gastarbeiters' ways of self-presenting and self-positioning. We conducted this by, firstly, looking at them from a transnational perspective; secondly, by using different artifacts and, thirdly, by focusing on families leaving their young children in Turkey. For us, this constellation is of special interest because a child in Turkey is a key element for stretching a transnational space. In this article we reflected on our theoretical and methodological approach and discussed our first findings. The following conclusions can be drawn from the present study and give an outlook for the future on open questions:

  • Self-presenting and self-positioning from a transnational perspective: The self, as MEAD (1967 [1934]) defined it, is constantly being formed in interaction with relevant others. Which significant and generalized others are relevant for the self-presenting and self-positioning is an empirical question (DAHINDEN, 2013). In our empirical cases, significant others in the country of origin, especially the children left behind in Turkey and the family members taking care of them were highly relevant. In such a constellation processes of self-presenting and -positioning cannot be adequately understood within a "methodological nationalism" framework. A transnational perspective, on the other hand, avoids predefining the nation of their destination and its citizens as the relevant context for migrants.35)

  • The national and transnational framing of self-presentation: Our first results show that the national framing of self-presentation varies within a period of time (BRECKNER, 2014; FAUSER & REISENAUER, 2013), but also with regard to social networks and social worlds, especially the public and the private spheres. For instance, in one case the national identity became highly relevant in the self-presentation as a good (Turkish) mother in the retrospective interview. But the furniture or clothing documented in the photos indicates a quite westernized lifestyle and the photos depicting leisure time or gatherings with friends show a kind of transnational or cosmopolitan self-presentation. In the other case, although there are only a few references to Turkish culture and nation, cross-border practices were lively and frequent. The presentation as a transmigrant, Turkish migrant or German resident varied—between the cases and within one case.

  • The relevance of family members left in the country of origin for the continuity of the family and the transnational space: In a number of transnational (or biographical) studies, diverse activities of the parents (especially mothers in the USA) to stabilize their family over a distance have been investigated, "showing emotional ties through letters, phone calls, and money sent home" (HONDAGNEU-SOTELO & AVILA, 1997, p.564).36) What our cases show is how immobile persons contribute to the stability of the family connection. For example, grandparents taking care of a child not only "maximize the utilization of labor and resources in multiple settings and survive within situations of economic uncertainty and subordination" (GLICK SCHILLER et al., 1995, p.54), but also stabilize the child-parent-relationship and confirm (or: call into question) the presentation of "good parenthood." In addition, the children are actors in this transnational space—a contribution which is quite neglected in migration studies (FAUSER & REISENAUER, 2013). Although their position in the generational order is rather inferior, they also play a part in the stabilization of the "good family" and/or build alliances with the grandparents.

  • The relevance of artifacts for the continuity of the family and the self-presented: We suggest that more attention should be paid to artifacts in transnational studies in general (WOLBERT, 2001), and particularly in the research on (transnational) processes of self-presenting and self-positioning. One dominant approach in the field of transnational research is multi-sited ethnography, which entails following the actors across countries. But some artifacts cross borders too and constitute and stabilize the transnational space and family. Our analysis shows that different selves are presented depending on the type of artifacts. Artifact analysis of transnational families has to take the following into account: firstly, the materiality of the artifact which structures the ways of self-presenting and narrating (for instance the audio cassette which can be recorded by a child); secondly, the rationale for using it (for instance, a picture as a reminder of good parenthood or proof of a successful life); and, thirdly, the addressees (for instance a picture for the family members in Turkey depicting the living conditions in Germany). That means that artifacts narrate different stories and presentations of a family and the self. Triangulating them is not a strategy to validate results but to enhance the "theoretical sensibility" (GLASER, 1978) and to gain insight into the complexity of experience and expectations of different relevant actors. How different methodological approaches can be triangulated is furthermore an open question.

  • The relevance of a transnational research team: In our research team one of us is familiar with of the land of origin (Turkey) while the other one is familiar with the country immigrated to (Germany). Such a transnational team can be helpful to generate more questions during the research process. According to AMELINA (2010, §41), "mutual questioning among the members of the scientific team enables specification and subsequent avoidance of previous convictions." The constitution of the team with different "culture-natives" (SCHROER, 2009) challenges a "methodological nationalism" (BECK, 2007; WIMMER & GLICK SCHILLER, 2002) and may avoid the occurrence of over generalization (AMELINA, 2010) as well interpretations that are too narrow, which is especially common when analyzing pictures (MILLER, 2015). In our joint interpretation sessions, the pictures launched a mutual cultural positioning by addressing the other researcher as an expert of her country (like: "is this kind of furniture widespread in Turkey?"). By doing so, our different cultural knowledge enriched the process of analyzing but it was accompanied by cultural interpretations. So there is also the tendency to constitute "otherness" in a binational team, to overemphasize cultural interpretations and to overlook the common perspectives and positions of the researchers. Especially in migration studies and in doing photo analysis, positional reflexivity is important. A binational research team can be a resource in this process, but it does not automatically prevent a hasty construction of groupings—such as ROSENTHAL (2009) identified as a central problem in doing research. [42]

Data from an archive cannot answer all relevant questions a researcher has, but it can open up new perspectives. Using artifacts is a promising way for enhancing future research on transnational families—past and present. [43]


Our project "Artifacts of Migrants. Objects of Self-Forming, Self-Presenting and Self-Positioning" was sponsored by the Humboldt-Foundation within the framework of "Connect. Frontiers on Research." We thank the foundation for facilitating the exchange between scientists from Turkey and Germany. We also thank DOMiD, especially Arnd KOLB, for supporting our project.


1) They were called Gastarbeiter [guest workers] because of the common understanding that their stay in Germany would be temporary and they would return to Turkey later. <back>

2) DOMiD is a nonprofit organization, founded in 1990 under the name DOMiT [Documentation Center and Museum of Migration from Turkey]. The center is now open for different forms of migration as is indicated by the change of its name to DOMiD. But Turkish migration, especially the period after the first "Agreement on the Recruitment of Workers" is still highly relevant for its work. <back>

3) Some researchers use the word "cross-border studies" to address similar concerns (AMELINA, FAIST, GLICK SCHILLER & NERGIZ, 2012). <back>

4) This is not the place to give an overview of the debate and the different concepts (e.g., transnational field, transnationalism, globalization, FAIST et al., 2013; PRIES, 2013) or to outline the criticism (for example the vague relevance of the local, HUNNER-KREISEL & BÜHLER-NIEDERBERGER, 2015). <back>

5) MILLER and MADIANOU (2012) are some of a few researchers investigating "the impact of new media on the relationships between [...] migrant mothers and their left-behind children" (p.12; see also GRESCHKE, 2012). <back>

6) It is worth mentioning that especially biographical research investigates female migration. One early work from France is the study of BERTAUX-WIAME (1979), who explored the differences between male and female migrants narrating their migration story. According to her, while men emphasize their individual agency (the "I") when talking about their migration experience, women use more often the "we," including relevant others. <back>

7) FAULSTICH ORELLANA et al. (2001, p.573) state quite correctly that at the beginning of the 21st century "research on the transnational family, household, and intimate relations assume that adults are the key social actors; children, with a few important exceptions ... are largely invisible." We understand the child left behind in Turkey as a co-constructor of the transnational space. <back>

8) Migration does not always encompass transnational practices and networks. A break with the country of origin is not unusual (DAHINDEN, 2013). However, leaving a child in the country of origin often acts as a strong bond. <back>

9) According to EREL (2009), besides financial and legal reasons "it was often considered a better solution to separate from the children in order to have a trusted member of the family care for the child than relying on the care of strangers. Moreover, many migrants initially lived with the 'myth of return' so that they wanted their children to be educated in Turkey where they should, according to the plan, eventually return" (p.123). See CARLING, MENJÍVAR and SCHMALZBAUER (2012) and FRESNOZA-FLOT (2014) on the relevance of the age of the child. <back>

10) Most of the migrants had to work for low wages due to the conditions of the German labor market, language problems and their low level of education (or educational achievement not recognized by the German authorities). <back>

11) Both couples had a second child several years after the first one. The second child was not part of the research because we were interested in the first years in Germany. <back>

12) Our study cannot be called a "case study" because we do not have the "motivation to illuminate understanding of complex phenomena" (HARRISON, BIRKS, FRANKLIN & MILLS, 2017, §28). <back>

13) Another approach "to understand and reconstruct transnational migration phenomena today" and thereby "the embeddedness of the biographical account in social macro structures" is biographical narrative interviews (APITZSCH & SIOUTI, 2007, p.6f.). <back>

14) A widespread practice among migrants is to circulate photos between the country of origin and the receiving country. FEDYUK (2012) examined photos sent by Ukrainian mothers from Italy to their family members left behind. She shows that these "photographs often mirror the desired representation of home, familial roles and the common future" but also reflect "volumes of obligations, moralities and hierarchies" within the transnational family (p.299). <back>

15) Pictures have rarely been used in migration research until now, as EL-MAFAALANI, WALECIAK and WEITZEL (2016) stated in their overview of qualitative studies in Germany. However, in oral history there has been a long practice of working with photographs, often using them as memory triggers in interviews (FREUND & THOMSON, 2011). But in this study we approach photos as worthwhile data in their own right. MILLER (2015) bewails the restrictions related to the use of pictures in research projects and emphasizes the specific value of visual methods. <back>

16) According to THOMSON (2011) there is a broad literature that highlights the relationship between commercial family photography identified with Eastman Kodak in the late nineteenth century and the development of suburban family life. It became fashionable to take, display and circulate photos of family events that represent a happy and successful family with gratified parents. Photography shaped and transformed social life in modern societies (HARVEY & UMBACH, 2015). <back>

17) BARTHES (1985, pp.35ff.) differentiates between studium and punctum. Studium means to understand the intentions of the photographer, based on a common cultural understanding. Punctum is the serendipitous aspect in a photo, a personally touching detail. By applying BARTHES' distinction, SERRA (2013) traced the seasonal travels of animal trainers in Italy, orsanti (bear-trainers) in the nineteenth century through pictures. The pictures depicted the surprised locals and the spontaneous performance of bear-trainers. The uncanny elements of these photos can be called punctum. In contrast, SERRA shows standardized pictures of Italian migrants in the United States, without any room for individual performance. Here, SERRA used BARTHES' definition of studium. The difference is interesting for a bi-national team interpreting pictures. It can be assumed that due to differences in our conjunctive knowledge our attention is drawn to different pictures or aspects of pictures. <back>

18) THOMPSON (2011) used "family photographs and interviews with second-, third-, and fourth-generation German Americans in Illinois" (p.149) in her study. She was fascinated how alike the pictures were: "In looking at these German family albums, I was struck by the similarity between images that participants shared with me" (p.154) We were also surprised by the high number of pictures of cars and specific artifacts, like cooking pots of a specific German manufacturer. <back>

19) By using photographs from the archive, we did not have the opportunity to analyze the arrangement of pictures in an album (THOMPSON, 2011). <back>

20) For us, the task of analyzing this data without knowing the people behind the artifacts and not having all the relevant information was an issue at times. This is a problem which is intensively discussed by qualitative researchers doing secondary analysis (MEDJEDOVIC, 2011). We tried to turn this limitation into a challenge and learn more about the peculiarities of different artifacts. Luckily, we succeeded in getting in contact with the child of Family A, now an adult woman living in Germany. She was able to fill in some gaps. She told us, for example, that her father had taken a lot of pictures, especially of her during holidays in Germany. According to her, he used the pictures to remember the past and to look at them when he was homesick. Some of them were also sent to family members in Turkey. <back>

21) When referring to the artifacts, we use the identification number of the archive. <back>

22) Various studies show how members of families separated by large distances keep in touch through letters, videos, the Internet and other means of communication (FAULSTICH ORELLANA et al., 2001, p.586). GLICK SCHILLER et al. (1995, p.55) mention a study from Haiti, describing how "Haitians of peasant backgrounds, illiterate and with little access to phones in Haiti, have developed a rhetoric in the form of songs sent through audio cassettes within which tensions and fissures within transnational households and kin networks are communicated." Following our analysis, such creative forms are also used in communication between young children and their parents. <back>

23) For this purpose, interviewees were asked to talk about the selection process in Turkey (for example the health checks) as well as about their experiences in Germany—their lives in dormitories, the conditions of employment and the work-life arrangements. <back>

24) We did not follow a theoretical sampling strategy but we constantly returned to data already analyzed in order to "verify" (STRAUSS, 1987, p.17) the generated categories and linkages between them. <back>

25) The "reconstruction of the planimetric composition, of the picture's formal structure as a plane, leads us to the principles of design and to the inherent laws of the picture itself" (BOHNSACK, 2008, §14). We did not strictly follow his analytical principles but used them as a sensitization regarding the formal structure of pictures. <back>

26) Not as a systematic method but in order to get some stimulation for our interpretation process, we asked some students in Turkey as well as in Germany what the picture documented. We just gave them the information that it was made in the 1970s. The German students were quite sure that it is a picture taken in Germany—only the mustache of the man made some of them hesitate. The same was true for the Turkish students. The cake and the tableware are indicators of Western culture—but the mustache also causes doubt in this group. <back>

27) CHRIST (2017) reveals in her ethnography that the reunion—a permanent or a temporary one—is a critical point where expectations, which do not fit, become apparent (for example, when parents expect gratitude from the children). <back>

28) All translations from Turkish to English were made by us. We translated the everyday language with its grammatical and syntactical errors. <back>

29) This case suggests further discussion on the return intention of migrants as return expectations of a transnational network. <back>

30) In their study on young people from Kirgizstan and Azerbaijan who migrated to Germany in order to visit university, BÜHLER-NIEDERBERGER, HUNNER-KREISEL and SCHWITTEK (2015) link the concept of translocality with the concept of generational order. The concept of "generational order" is similar to the one of "gender order" in that it refers to the age-bounded structure with its categorical rights and obligations. On the basis of two cases, they define three dimensions of reciprocal patterns of generational order: 1. "material" expectations (such as money but also grandchildren), 2. obedience of the younger generation, and 3. family honor. The reciprocal rights and obligations of the generational order are considered by the actors as traditionally legitimized. Concurrently, in the study it is shown how these dimensions were (re)produced by the dynamics of family life. This means, the generational order was constantly reproduced but also adapted and re-shaped. <back>

31) In historical studies, the significance of culture and consumption among the Ottomanupper and middle classes in the nineteenth century has been pointed out when Western taste became a marker of distinction (GOCEK, 1996). DUBEN and BEHAR (1996) traced how the westernization of the Ottoman upper and middle classes created a split between the alaturka [the Ottoman-Turkish way] and the alafranga [the European way]—the latter was evaluated as elevated. In a more recent study KARADEMIR HAZIR (2014) shows that European taste and Western consumption patterns still have a classificatory power in everyday lives of Turkish people. Thus, everyday practices like eating or driving cars can be seen as fields of symbolic struggle. <back>

32) Using BOURDIEU's concept of cultural capital, EREL (2010) argues in her ethnographic study of Turkish and Kurdish migrant women in Britain and Germany that migrants do not simply reflect their country of origin, but rather re-define it. <back>

33) In the current literature, cosmopolitanism is mostly referred to as elite cosmopolitanism– as LAMONT and AKSARTOVA (2002) point out. They argue that not only members of the privileged class encounter different cultures. However, cosmopolitan perspective is rare in the literature on Gastarbeiter and their children (APITZSCH & SIOUTI, 2007). But it has to be taken into account that in the 1970s cosmopolitan capital was not as highly valued as today. GERHARDS and HANS (2013) point this out in their analysis of job vacancies in a German newspaper which revealed the changing requirements of employers between 1970 and 2010. For example, "international experience and a willingness to work abroad have become a recruitment criterion, rising from 3.6 percent in 1970 to 20 percent in 2010" (p.101). <back>

34) One of the students in Turkey (see Note 26) was quite sure that the woman on the bike is not from Turkey because of the dress she wore while posing with a bike. <back>

35) Thereby, we modified our research question: In the beginning we focused from a Bourdieuian perspective on ways of self-presenting and self-positioning within a national framed "social space." But our research field forced us quite quickly to investigate these processes in a more open way. <back>

36) HONDAGNEAU-SOTELO and AVILA(1997, p.548) explored "how the meanings of motherhood are rearranged to accommodate these spatial and temporal separations." When women leave their families they "are embarking not only on an immigration journey but on a more radical gender-transformative odyssey. They are initiating separations of space and time from their communities of origin, homes, children, and—sometimes—husbands." (p.552). <back>


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Meltem KARADAG is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Gaziantep. She is interested in ethnographic research and oral history techniques focusing on economic and cultural inequalities within everyday practices and morals.


Meltem Karadag

University of Gaziantep
Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Sociology Department
27310 Gaziantep, Turkey

E-mail: meltemkaradag@gmail.com


Alexandra KÖNIG is professor of socialization at the University of Duisburg-Essen. The main emphasis of her work is on transnational families, youth and childhood.


Alexandra König

University of Duisburg-Essen
Faculty of Educational Sciences
Universitätsstr. 2
45141 Essen, Germany

E-mail: alexandra.koenig@uni-due.de


Karadag, Meltem & König, Alexandra (2019). Different Kinds of Artifacts—Different Ways of Self-Presenting. Turkish Migrants in the 1960s and 1970s in Germany as Transmigrants [43 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 20(1), Art. 4, http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-20.1.2941.

Copyright (c) 2019 Meltem Karadag, Alexandra König

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