Ali Turunz: Music as a Cultural Resource in the Turkish Migratory Context

The presentation is based on my doctoral thesis, which explores the role of music in the Turkish migration context in Germany. I will present the research results in three parts, each documenting a distinctive way how Turkish choir members in Hamburg use music as a resource, in response to the feeling of not being accepted in German society. First, choir members use music as a resource to draw internal symbolic boundaries within the Turkish community. Participants draw symbolic boundaries against the majority of the Turkish population living in Germany. On the basis of the distinction they make between refined and „uncultured“ music, choir members deliberately create a number of sacred and profane binaries in the Durkheimian sense. In contrast, the research reveals that participants do not draw antagonistic symbolic boundaries against Germans. Rather, the participants’ narratives disclose the division of Turkish and German domains into sacred and “differently sacred.” Second, the research reveals that choir members regard music as the most appropriate (and perhaps only) cultural resource for improving the general status of Turks in Germany. Their long-term destigmatization strategy involves the deliberate use of music as a resource to destigmatize the Turkish community collectively, which they hope will eventually lead to the acceptance of Turks as an integral part of German society. Third, for the participants in this study, music is a resource for the establishment of a “third sphere,” or a symbolic place of belonging.

Ali Türünz graduated from Istanbul University in 2006 with a BA in English Language and Literature. He holds an M.A in Sociology from Masaryk University. His M.A thesis examined the positions of Turkish intellectuals in the headscarf disputes in Turkey. He is currently a a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at Masaryk University. His doctoral thesis is titled “Music as a Resource in the Migratory Context: Turkish Choirs in Hamburg”.