Utrecht University Webinar on the Case of Turkish "Returnees"

22 January 2021

Prof. Ayhan Kaya participated in the webinar entitled “Polarisation in Europe and Translocal understandings of home: the second-generation Turkish 'returnees' experiences.”

A webinar entitled “Polarisation in Europe and Translocal understandings of home: the second-generation Turkish ‘returnees’ experiences” was held on January 22, Friday, by the Focus Area on Migration and Societal Change at Utrecht University. The primary goal of the program, moderated by Professor Barbara Oomen and Dr Ilse van Liempt, was to discuss how the second-generation Euro-Turks experienced and interpreted social polarization in Europe. Besides, the participants focused on the “translocal” nature of these youngsters’ self-identification in their explanations.

Among the three speakers of the webinar, Professor Ayhan Kaya, the PRIME Youth project principal investigator, was the first speaker to share his arguments by combining his previous research on Euro-Turks with the ongoing ERC project’s preliminary findings. Describing migration studies as a field that contributes to the critical study of “majority societies,” Kaya referred to the assumption, “once a migrant, always a migrant,” by problematizing the dominant narrative in which people born in Europe are labelled as “returnees” when they migrate to Turkey. Moreover, Kaya emphasized that “culturalization” obscures the essentially similar problems, such as alienation, deindustrialization, poverty, and unemployment, faced by migrant-origin youths and others with anti-immigrant sentiments. Based on his remarks from the PRIME Youth project interviews, Professor Kaya concluded that most Turkish-origin European citizens prefer to stay in Europe despite their problems.

Following Kaya, Dr Nilay Kılınç, a postdoctoral researcher at the Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies, presented her research on second-generation Turkish-German return journeys to the “homeland.” Focusing on the case of Antalya as an international space and “a bricolage city” in Turkey, Kılınç argued that those who moved to Antalya did not simply return to Turkey, but “a specific place” in Turkey. Connectedly, Kılınç discussed the usefulness of the concept of “translocality” as opposed to “transnationality.”

Dr Fenella Fleischmann, Associate Professor at the European Research Centre on Migration and Ethnic Relations, acted as the panel’s discussant. Focusing especially on quantitative research on return incentives, Fleischmann discussed with Kaya and Kılınç the economic dimension of migration to Turkey. The evening concluded after a Q&A session between the speakers and the broader audience.  

Metin Koca, ERC PRIME Youth Project Post-Doc Researcher, European Institute, Istanbul Bilgi University