Capital and Labor

  • Leslie A. Adelson
Part of the Studies in European Culture and History book series (SECH)


Agonal forces of capital and labor are inscribed in the story of Turkish migration, as economic conditions prevailing from the 1950s on attest. The Cold War closely shadows this tale of human need and industrial demand, especially after 1961, when the Berlin Wall sundered the German populace overnight and formal recruitment of Turkish laborers began. Because of government-sanctioned policies regulating the flow of international labor into a divided Germany, and because the Federal Republic long had the most liberal laws in Europe pertaining to political asylum, Turkish migrants have been interpellated for four decades in Germany as subjects, if far less frequently as citizens, of a capitalist state committed to certain forms of historical memory. For Saskia Sassen, migrant laborers in the late twentieth century become “emblematic subjects” (2000: 216; 1998: 55–76) of a global economy dating to the 1970s. This economy is “characterized by a rapid growth of transactions and institutions that are outside the framework of interstate relations” (1998: 100, n. 2), and migrant laborers acquire emblematic status at “frontier zones” of capitalist development where national domains and a global economy interact (Sassen 2000: 216). As K. Anthony Appiah aptly observes in his foreword to Globalization and Its Discontents: Essays on the New Mobility of People and Money, the political economist conjoins “a discourse about global capital and the discourse of migration” by reconceiving the latter “as the globalization of labor” (Sassen 1998: xiv).


Cultural Capital Turkish Woman Turkish Migration German Culture Mirror Opposite 
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© Leslie A. Adelson 2005

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  • Leslie A. Adelson

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