Integration between theory and practice

Cultural scientist Dr Özkan Ezli to coordinate new research priority “Migration in der globalen Gegenwart” (migration in the global present)

This is how the University of Konstanz’s Center of Excellence “Cultural Foundations of Social Integration” proposes to address the topic of migration and to provide answers in the public debate about migration and global mobility. At the same time, the research initiative will expand its activities towards global mobility research.

Global migration, whether caused by political crisis, persecution or climate change, will remain a major global issue. In Germany, a host of volunteers are working to help the refugees who arrived in Germany in 2015 to find their place in society, while the Pegida movement continues to propagate xenophobic messages in the streets. As a country of and for immigrants, Germany faces a challenging problem: How should we, as a society, handle a type of social diversity that is perceived as enriching but also as rife with conflict? In order to be able to answer these questions appropriately and to contribute to a better understanding of these and other urgent social problems, the Konstanz Center of Excellence “Cultural Foundations of Social Integration” has appointed Özkan Ezli its official contact person for migration in the global present.

“My task is to bring scholarly reflection in the field of cultural studies to bear on the pressing socio-political questions of our time and vice versa”, explains Ezli. “I want to de-dramatise the public debate about migration and integration, which is often conducted in a highly emotional manner”. As contact person for political stakeholders and the media, the researcher will provide consulting services on a range of current problems, as he did for the city of Konstanz in the context of the so-called “Burkini Gutachten” (burkini report). He will design events around the topic of migration and integration and establish partnerships with other universities and public institutions.

Building bridges between theory and practice is second nature to Ezli, who has always known how to combine academic research with civic engagement. The literary and cultural scholar’s Habilitation is on “Narrative der Integration in der deutsch-türkischen Literatur und im Film” (narratives of integration in German-Turkish literature and film) and seeks to write an alternative literary and cultural history of migration in Germany. He is the author and editor of numerous scientific publications and has organised several conferences on the topic of integration. In 2014, he curated the special exhibition “Das neue Deutschland. Von Migration und Vielfalt” (the new Germany - of migration and diversity) organised by the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Dresden. Ezli serves on the advisory board of the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum for an exhibition about racism that will open in Dresden in 2018. Özkan Ezli has consulted on a range of policy matters, both at the local and at state level, for instance on the “Runder Tisch Islam” in 2015 and 2016 (round table on Islam), and lends his expertise to on-going initiatives of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Integration Baden-Württemberg.