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Kanak Attak Strikes Back: Challenging German Citizenship and Integration Policies

Duygu Gürsel
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Duygu Gürsel
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Open Panel

Abstract

How do immigrant intellectuals react to the citizenship and integration debates in Germany in the last decade? After the dramatic transformation of the German citizenship law in 1999, the relevant debates on immigrant integration policies are increasingly discussed around three major questions: Who is German; what are the criteria of belonging to German society and polity and how will Germany proceed with immigrant integration policies. Although many studies focus on the German state authorities'' perspective to these three questions, in this paper, I aim to reflect the social entanglements and paradoxes of immigrant groups, specifically of Kanak Attak, and how they respond to the changing German citizenship law and immigrant integration policies in the last decade. Kanak Attak presents a new social movement in Germany by a newly forming immigrant intelligentsia, which is different than current stereotypes of immigrant groups. They enter to the stage of struggles of migration in Germany with the provocative name of Kanake which is indeed a pejorative word for foreigners in Germany to draw the attention not to ethnic difference rather to political difference which takes position against the mainstream and conformism. Drawing on Gramsci, I discuss how this intellectual group unveil the integration discourse as the new hegemonic project which, they argue, hierarchizes the immigrant groups and legitimizes the exclusion. In conclusion, I argue citizenship as belonging is not as an institution that is imposed by the state, but it is a collective process which all members of the society can contribute to its formation (Balibar, 2000).