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Viola-Donata Rauch


Center for Metropolitan Studies (CMS)
TU Berlin
Ernst-Reuter-Platz 7, TEL 3-0
10587 Berlin


"Me, Myself and the City: Urban Identifications and Negotiations of Belonging of Children of Immigrants in Berlin"

Children of immigrants and their position in society have become the subject of both public concern and academic scrutiny in recent years. More than their immigrant parents, they have come to represent the diversity of contemporary societies and the challenges associated with this. In the German context they have become a focal point of the broader „integration debate".

This debate, especially so with regard to children of immigrants, is characterized by an abundance of negative urban images, resulting in a conceptualization of the city as ghetto (Vgl. Stehle 2006), site of failure of integration or stage for conflict and crime. Somewhat surprisingly, children of immigrants have developed a counter-narrative by increasingly making use of urban identifications to position themselves in the discourse. By stressing their self-identification as Berliners, they are countering the popular image of the generation „sitting on the fence" and ascribe a central role in their identity construction to the city.

Even though such urban identifications have been surfacing in numerous studies on children of immigrants (among many, Kasinitz et al 2008, Mannitz 2006, TIES Study) little is known about nature, characteristics and potentials of them, as Schiffauer has noted recently (2008, chap.4).

The study examines expressions of identifications as Berliners, such as autobiographical text, song lyrics, public statements in politics, representations in online communities and other narratives. In a next step, those identifications are further explored through biographical interviews focusing on construction processes and the linkages to (othering) discourses on the group and other identifications available to them.

It is argued here that the self-identification as Berliner offers a way to reconcile elements that are routinely conceptualized as contradictory and expressions of either German or Turkish „culture", and to constructively deal with ambivalence and conflict resulting from marginalization as Others. Furthermore, it offers an individual mode of representation as alternative to or complementation of national, religious or ethnic identifications that are often exclusive and predefined in their nature. The Berlin identifications are analysed as boundary making (Alba 2006, Wimmer 2008) as they challenge the existing topography of ethnic boundaries and open up alternative spaces for negotiating of belonging.

Curriculum Vitae

Fellow of the Migration Studies Program of the Bucerius-ZEIT Foundation Hamburg

Center for Metropolitan Studies, Berlin
DFG doctoral fellow

Fellow of the German-Turkish Social Science Roundtable II of the Goethe Institute and the Middle East Technical University Ankara.

Fellow in the EU program FUTURE:" Future Urban Research in Europe"
at the 2008 session: "The Ethnically Diverse City" at Bauhaus University, Weimar, Germany. FUTURE is a European Research Network concerned with future development of European cities.

UN HABITAT Headquarters, Nairobi, Kenya
Fellow of Carlo-Schmid work experience program

Technische Universität Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin
Masters degree in urban sociology and anthropology

Fellow in the study excellence program

United Nations Headquarters Office, UN HABITAT Office, NYC, USA
DAAD fellow
internship program

Technische Universität Berlin, Department of Urban and Regional Sociology
Teaching Assistant

New School University, NYC, USA
German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) fellow
Graduate study of sociology, focussing on urban ethnography

Freie Universität Berlin
Bachelor degree in sociology and anthropology

Kreuzberg Museum Berlin (Senat Berlin)
Internship and project coordinator
organisation and coordination of a neighborhood exhibition

Publications, Lectures etc.


"Be Berlin? Perspektiven mit Migrationsgeschichte auf das heutige Berlin" im Rahmen der Sommerakademie "Städtische Minderheiten in Europa" der Leibniz-Universität Hannover, September 2010.

"A Berliner is not a Berliner- Investigating urban identifications of descendants of immigrants", RC21 session: "The Impact of Im/migration on Urban Culture, Public Arts and Public Space", International Sociological Association World Congress, Gothenburg, July 2010.

"You talkin' to me? Narratives of belonging and protest"
European City Project 2010: Ethnicity in the City, organized by Multicultural Center Prague, Berlin, June 2010.

"Berlin als Antwort. The urban as frame for individual positionings and discursive space for negotiations of belonging today", Emergeandsee-Festival 2010, Berlin, June 2010.

"The m-word: urban identifications of Berliners with 'migration background' ", City&Migration Seminar 2010, CMS/Finland Institute, Berlin, May 2010.

"Close Proximity, Contiguity, Neighborhood. Notes on concepts of German-Turkish Nachbarschaft and belonging", Symposium, Goethe-Institute Ankara, Middle-East Technical University, Ankara, December 2009.

"Negotiating a different Germany: children of immigrants from Turkey engage in current discourses around integration and diversity" at German-Turkish Social Science Roundtable held by Goethe-Institute and Middle-East Technical University, Ankara, December 2009.

"Belonging vs. 'Integration': discourses around and positionings of descendants of immigrants today", at "Migration In Cities: Focus on ethnic groups" Conference, Finland Institute, Dublin, November 2009.

"Whatever Happened to the City? On the Urban Dimension of Second Generation Research", at City Matters Symposium, AHRC  / CRONEM Conference 2009: "Diasporas, Migration and Identities: Crossing Boundaries, New Directions", University of Surrey, June 2009.

"When the Other Side of the City talks Back -
Urban identifications of children of immigrants as mode of intervention in othering discourses", Workshop "All quiet on the wrong side of the tracks?", CMS, June 2009.

"Turkish? German? Berliner! The second generation negotiates belonging and self-representations in the city" at "Self-Representation & the City" at City Session, Second Generation Research Dialogues, CMS, January 2009.

"More Than An Urban Stage. The City's Impact on Self-Representation of Children of Immigrants in Berlin", FUTURE Research Network Conference, Bauhaus University Weimar, November 2008.

„Migration and Integration. Diskurse in Deutschland und den USA“ at fellow study program of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Bonn, 2005.

„Women Migrants in Germany“ Input statement at UniFemme IA meeting, UN Headquarters, New York, 2005.

„Second generation Turkish migrants in Berlin“ at the annual SASE (Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics) conference, Budapest, 2005.


"Rethinking the Future of the German-Turkish Nexus", Organization and Moderation of the Third German-Turkish Social Science Roundtable, hosted by Goethe Institute Ankara and Middle East Technical University, Cappadocia, September 2010.

"Multicultural Capital, Diversity Celebration, Integration Machinery? Exploring Berlin." Research workshop with students, European City Project 2010: Ethnicity in the City, organized by Multicultural Center Prague, Berlin, June 2010.

"Living in the City: Children of immigrants in Dublin, Berlin, Helsinki", City & Migration Seminar 2010, cooperation of Finland Institute Berlin, Finnish Institute London, CMS Berlin, Berlin, May 2010.

"All quiet on the wrong side of the tracks? Inquiries into the interrelation of the Other and the City today" , interdisciplinary workshop  held at CMS in June 2009.

Second Generation Research Dialogues: Comparative Perspectives on Children of Immigrants Today, CMS in January 2009. The workshop facilitated interdisciplinary and international exchange among senior and junior researchers involved in research on descendants of immigrants and focused on two main themes: "Second generation and the city" and "Second generation in school".

"Empowerment, Recognition and Participation. Inclusive History, Inclusive Museums." Workshop-Moderation im Rahmen der Tagung "Migrations in Museums" des Netzwerks Migration / ICOM Europe, Berlin, Oktober 2008.


"Gestatten, Berlinerin! Zum Verhältnis von Zugehörigkeit und Stadt bei Nachkommen von MigrantInnen aus der Türkei" (20101) in: Färber, Alexa (Hrsg.): Stoffwechsel Berlin. Urbane Präsenzen und Repräsentationen", Berliner Blätter 53/2010, Panama Verlag.

More Than an Urban Stage for Conflict-The city's impact on self-representation of second generation immigrants in Berlin (forthcoming, 2009) in: The Ethnically Diverse City Reader, Berliner Wissenschaftsverlag, Berlin.


Tutor of the CUNY/ Humboldt DAAD Summer School 2010
"Multiple Forms of In/Exclusion. How Urban Forms and Institutions Create and Reflect Patterns of In/Exclusion: Comparing Notes on Berlin and New York"
June 2010

Berlin 2.0 : Exploring Identities and Self-representations of Descendants of Immigrants and the City, BA seminar at Department of European Anthropology, Humboldt University Berlin, summer term 2009.


Member of IMISCOE (International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion, European Research Network)

Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE)

Foreigner.de (Fremdsein und Kunst)

Friedrich-Ebert study group “Migration”

Volunteer at the Kreuzberg Museum Berlin


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