Education, Islam, and the Making of Turkish Difference: Turkish Teachers and Imams in Postwar Germany
Brian Van Wyck

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Primary Discipline

The project offers a history of the racialization of Turkish Muslims in the Federal Republic of Germany from the 1960s through the 2000s, focusing on the role of teachers and imams from Turkey who worked with what was the country?s largest migrant group by 1973. Teachers offered language courses to the children of so-called ?guest workers? in German schools, whereas imams taught religious lessons and led prayers in mosques and Qur?an courses. In these capacities both provided information for audiences in two countries about Turks in the Federal Republic on culture, Islam, and racialized difference. They did not just produce knowledge, but were called to act upon this knowledge, providing interventions based on what German or Turkish officials deemed to be the needs of the Turkish German population. This position at the intersection of producing and applying knowledge and of the interests of two states makes teachers and imams uniquely valuable subjects in a history of the transnational politics of knowledge about race and Islam. Tracing this history offers insights into the contested and contingent racialization of Islam in Western Europe, the entangling of Turkish and German secular regimes, and transnational attachments encouraged and fostered by sending and receiving states in concert.
About Brian Van Wyck
Brian Van Wyck is an assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County with research interests in German and Turkish history, migration, education and Islam, and the history of knowledge. His book project offers a history of Islam, education, and knowledge production in the Federal Republic of Germany from the 1960s through the 2000s, centering on the role of teachers and imams from Turkey in the racialization of Islam and Turkishness in transnational space. His work has appeared in Geschichte und Gesellschaft and is forthcoming in edited collections on education and migrant integration and race and anti-racism in modern Germany. His research has been funded by the Social Science Research Council, Fulbright, the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies at the Free University of Berlin, the Central European History Society, the Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Munich, and a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University?s Mahindra Humanities Center. He received a PhD in History from Michigan State University (2019) and holds an MA in Nationalism Studies from Central European University in Budapest, Hungary (2012) and a BA in History from Williams College (2007).

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