Ga direct naar de content

Seminar – Categorical astigmatism in the study of migrants in Europe


The study of migrant minorities in Europe has long been characterized by a turn to identity politics. This turn has two shortcomings: First, it often conflates religion, ethnicity, and nationality, resulting in what I call “categorical astigmatism”. Consequently, migrant minorities find themselves lumped into categories they would not primarily identify with. Second, despite its importance in the lived experiences of migrant minorities, class is treated as a “non-identity” and intra-migrant class differences do not get the attention they deserve. Building on these two criticisms, in this article, I first employ Bourdieu’s theory of “classification struggles” to conceptualize “categorical astigmatism” and make a plea for categorical clarification. I then suggest the theory of intersectionality as a way out, highlighting the importance of class and its intersection with other markers of difference. Empirically, the paper builds on interviews with migrants from Turkey and Syria in Germany.


  • Gülay Türkmen (Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung)