Music at the German “Border of Integration”. Turkish music in Germany.
Contribution by Cornelia Lund (HfK Bremen), Holger Lund (DHBW Ravensburg).

In an interview from 2000, the German right-winged CDU politician Rita Süssmuth commented on music by migrants in such a way that “purely ethnically oriented discotheques” should be avoided. At the time, Süssmuth was chairwoman of the “Independent Commission on Immigration” and was criticized, even in her own party circles, for taking positions that were too pro-migrant. At least she countered the notion of a societal “overload” in relation to migration with the notion of a societal “enrichment”. But it remained clear to her that the “emergence of parallel societies” had to be prevented. This is where she saw the “limit of integration.”

Coming from almost twenty years of research on Turkish pop music of the 1960s-1980s, which we focused on because of its specific and meanwhile internationally appreciated qualities, we were unfamiliar with the lines of thought from the migration discourse of the time, according to which “preferences for Turkish music are often understood as an adherence to the culture of origin and a relic of tradition, and as such are evaluated as inhibiting integration” (Maria Wurm). Nevertheless, these are powerful approaches that have had a decisive influence on musical practice and its evaluation.

Said approaches complement the devaluation of Turkish (pop) music not only in the context of national and historical, but also (semi-)colonial cultural devaluation practices. And they have an effect as a concrete self-assessment, as, for example, in the case of the musician and music researcher Yaprak Uyar. She recently noted, “As a DJ performing in my early 20s, I recall hiding my Balkan and Anatolian folk music knowledge inherited from my family among my peers, because those weren’t appreciated as ‘hip’ back in those times [around the 2000s].”

Like no other migrant music in and from Germany, the assessment of Turkish (pop) music on the part of the dominant society has been marked by negativity, undesirability, and “mistrust” (Wurm), in part well into the 2010s. We would like to take a discourse-analytical look at the contexts of this negativity and the evaluation structures associated with it in order to gain insight into exclusions at a very special inner-German “border of integration.”