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Visions of Europe

Interdisciplinary Contributions to Contemporary Cultural Debates

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Edited By Gail K. Hart and Anke S. Biendarra

How do we as scholars envision Europe? Participants in a two-day research symposium bring a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary responses to this complex question. Distinguished US scholars address the European continent, its history and culture, and its politics in essays that range from the intellectual tradition to poetics and world literature, from the air war to plurilingualism, from religious symbolism to Europe’s colonial legacy. These contributions comprise a portrait or vision of Europe today; the challenges it faces, and the challenges we face in confronting it as a cultural and geopolitical entity.
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The Headscarf in Germany: A Critical Reading of the Feminist Debate

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Anke S. Biendarra

The social and political histories of immigration and integration in Germany have been contested at least since the 1970s and continue to be today. Especially since the profound changes to German citizenship law came into effect on January 1, 2000, the question of how Germany treats its citizens with a Migrationshintergrund [immigration background] and grants them political rights has been recognized as a central issue for the country’s economic, social and cultural viability. While the Nationality Act, the adoption of the Immigration Act, and the initiation of the Deutsche Islam Konferenz [German Conference on Islam] have been important developments in the last decade, integrating immigrants into mainstream German society, in order for them to gain individual and political agency, remains a challenge, especially with regard to the large Muslim population living in Germany today.

The heated debate in the fall of 2010 about the book Deutschland schafft sich ab: Wie wir unser Land aufs Spiel setzen [Germany Does Away With Itself: How We Are Putting Our Country At Risk] by Thilo Sarrazin, a member of the German Social Democratic party, constituted a watershed moment in the discourse on immigration. It quickly inspired a slate of critical analyses and animated discussion, both in public discourse, steered by journalists, and in various scholarly disciplines (cf. Deutschlandstiftung Integration, Bellers, Saunders). Sarrazin’s provocative thesis that higher birth rates among Muslims and less educated women than among native Germans will eventually lead to an overall decline...

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