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Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany
“Make Migration Great Again: Discourse Ethnography on the Double-bind for Migrant Teachers in Germany”

German discourses about migrants’ children in schools usually insinuate educational problems, social deviances and cultural incommensurability. Interestingly, this stigma becomes a capital when talking about teachers with the same ethnic minority background that is usually linked with problems: teachers whose descendants had immigrated to Germany as guest workers from countries such as Turkey, Greece or Italy. These teachers are discursively imagined as a solution to educational problems in German schools.

The paper identifies the discourses on ‘migration as problem’ and ‘migrant teachers as enrichment’ as constitutive parts of the same symbolic order that stereotypically represents those to be excluded. I present central results from my research in schools that combined field participation with discourse analysis. A postcolonial reading of the ethnographic data digs deep to see how the discourses double bind the teachers in situ: while the teachers are implicitly requested to capitalize on their ‘foreignness’, they are called upon to do so within reference frames that (threaten to) marginalize them.


Yalız Akbaba, PhD, works as a postdoctoral researcher for the Institute of Education at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany. Her research and teaching areas are Education and (Postcolonial) Migration Studies, Critical Race Theory, Teacher Professionalization, School and Class Research, Inclusion, as well as Qualitative Methodologies, especially (Discourse) Ethnography and Hermeneutics. Yalız’ current projects focus on anti-pluralistic discourses within critical university teaching.