Joyce Marie Mushaben. The Changing Faces of Citizenship: Social Integration and Political Mobilization among Ethnic Minorities in Germany. New York: Berghahn Books, 2008. xii + 348 pp. $100.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-84545-453-1.
Reviewed by Jennifer A. Miller (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville)
Published on H-German (April, 2011)
Commissioned by Benita Blessing (Oregon State University)
Who is German Now?
As literature on "foreigners" in Germany continues to expand, Joyce Mushaben adds a macro-view of broadly defined foreigners in Germany. Mushaben examines legal codes, the rhetoric surrounding them, and responses to them in order to answer the question, who is German now? Scholarship on the legal history of German citizenship law has long focused on the jus sanguinis principle, but the 1999 Citizenship and Naturalization Law abandoned this principle and it is refreshing to see scholarship move beyond it as well, especially in consideration of post-Wende Germany. Scholars and politicians have also recently recognized that Germany is indeed a "land of immigration." In light of these updates, Mushaben poses the question with her new book, The Changing Faces of Citizenship, "What lessons can we derive from the complexly interwoven story of Germany as a land of active immigration and thwarted integration?" (p. 305). Mushaben's book convincingly and uniquely argues for a broad view, arguing that focusing on just one ethnic or religious group paints an incomplete picture of the larger "societal puzzle" (p. 305). Mushaben discovers and illuminates how various waves of migrants develop new strategies of accommodation across time in response to the host society's changing rules. She argue that as each generation sought to participate in the host society, policymakers "switched codes," compelling migrants to carve out their own paths (pp. 305-306).
Mushaben argues that while many politicians and authors have focused on the costs of asylum seekers and refugees to Germany, few have emphasized the contributions of long-term migrant workers who comprise the majority of Germany's non-ethnic citizens. Synthesizing earlier research and new findings, Mushaben presents a rare comprehensive look at a wide range of populations who have in common not being ethnically German, from Jewish refugees to Muslim women from Afghanistan and Bosnia. The postwar era, particularly post-unification Germany, the focus of Mushaben's book, is a period when what it means to be German is both particularly ambiguous and tightly clung to by many policymakers who continue to hold onto constructed and problematic meanings of "Germanness." Despite new laws, political rhetoric, and even Angela Merkel's comments from this past October, Mushaben argues that "multicultural identities have taken root in the Federal Republic and that their contributions [for example, to the social security system (p. 13)] to the dominant political culture have been positive and democratic, even though Germany still does not perceive itself as a multicultural society" (p. 3).
In seven chapters Mushaben presents, inter alia, both the integration and mobilization of ethnic minorities in Germany through examples of legal codes, community activism, economic success stories, religious groups, gender difference, and examinations of the limits of tolerance. By focusing on the diversity of non-Germans, their experiences, and their diverse legal, social, and economic barriers to participation in German civil society, Mushaben reveals how these groups are both more integrated into German society than previously recognized and have fewer legal or social rights than previously recognized. For example, Spätaussiedler with automatic citizenship rights might have far more trouble adjusting and participating in German society than ethnic Turks who have lived, worked, and founded businesses in Germany over the course of forty years. Mushaben also credits nongovernment (community centered) or non-national sources (state- or city-level) of support for non-ethnic Germans. In chapters 4 and 7, Mushaben contrasts the two most prominent religious minorities in the country, Jews and Muslims, commenting that both Muslims and Jews in Germany are often awkwardly pushed into identities many never actively embraced, rendering Muslims "unintegratable" and Jews "privileged" with respect to access to integration services and accelerated naturalization.
Mushaben's work challenges the traditional concepts of full citizenship, locating agency and participation in new places, while not belying the importance of residents in Germany's access to traditionally defined "citizenship." She notes for example, "The social integration of non-nationals cannot be mandated in top-down fashion; it occurs instead through day-to-day interactions with the host society" (p. 13). The Changing Faces of Citizenship also serves as a condemnation of the contemporary German state's policies toward foreigners, seeking to point out every possible contradiction and inhumane practice toward foreigners in the postwar era. Mushaben concludes that the Federal Republic has not made efforts to integrate foreigners, making migration a negative byproduct instead of a national asset.
Her broad range of resources, literatures, and topics also changes the typical scholarship on citizenship in Germany as well. Each chapter focuses on paradigms of citizenship that Mushaben proposes, explains, and then demonstrates as unsatisfactory, leading to new forms of ethnic mobilization and networking that can be economic, social, religious, or cultural. The book could useful and accessible to a wide audience of both specialists and non-specialists in a variety of fields.
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Jennifer A. Miller. Review of Mushaben, Joyce Marie, The Changing Faces of Citizenship: Social Integration and Political Mobilization among Ethnic Minorities in Germany.
H-German, H-Net Reviews.
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