Freie Universität Berlin

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Brian Edward Karlsson, The George Washington University, Dept. of Political Science

The Politics of Immigration in the Shadows of the Nazi Past

There is a widespread consensus that changing ideas about the Nazi past, or historical memory have fundamentally redefined German society, politics, and concepts of national identity and belonging.  But little has been done to thoroughly investigate the impact of this change on specific domestic policy areas.  With my dissertation, I intend to research the politics of immigration in Germany during the period1982-2001, focusing on how shifting constructions of historical memory of the Nazi past have shaped immigration discourse and ultimately the policy positions of the major political parties. What aspects of the Nazi past do political actors reference in public discourse over immigration?  What boundaries and restrictions on political discourse do ideas about the Nazi past create?  Finally, what is the resulting effect of these boundaries on immigration discourse and ultimately public policy positioning?