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Fellow Seminar

23 April 2020

Dr. Nilay Kilinç will present online via Zoom her research proposal on the topic: "Highly-Skilled Turkish Migrants' Search for ‘Alternative Diaspora Spaces' in Europe: How Do They Build Social and Career Networks Beyond the ‘Cultures of Rejection'?" on 23 April 2020 (Thursday) at 16:30h.


This webinar will introduce the modern highly-skilled Turkish migration phenomenon in Europe and explore how highly-skilled Turkish migrants build social & professional networks and re-negotiate their identities vis-à-vis the older Turkish diasporas and the ‘dominant Other' in their respective European societies. The webinar will utilise the theoretical lenses of ‘translocality' and ‘superdiversity' and develop the concept of ‘transcultural capital' as a facilitator repertoire for the highly-skilled migrants to find access to social spaces and networks which allow them to sustain their alternative lifestyles (i.e. green, LGBTQ-friendly, politically liberal, artistic/cultural, intellectual, innovation and technology-oriented, cosmopolitan).

I am especially interested in exploring which spaces in superdiverse cities provide a sense of self-esteem and familiarity for this multi-lingual, mobile, urban and transnational group of highly-skilled migrants and what other spaces of contact make them reflect upon their ‘migrant' identities and perceived prejudices either from their co-nationals or the dominant Other. Consequently, I am curious to find out how the ‘highly-skilled' component on one hand and the ‘migrant' component on the hand are experienced, internalised and negotiated in order to construct a sense of home, develop careers and build social ties in their host-lands.

This research aims to explore the highly-skilled Turkish migrants' everyday life experiences in three spheres: a) work places, b) wider social community (vis-à-vis ‘the dominant Other' in their respective European city) and, c) wider Turkish diaspora community. The research focuses on their narratives on self-identity and collective identities (e.g. ‘Turkish', ‘Muslim', ‘European', ‘highly-skilled migrant') and analyses how they blur or sharpen the boundaries of in/out-group status based on their experiences, social statuses, professions and lifestyles. The research data is collected from Vienna, Berlin, Stockholm and Amsterdam wherein the Turkish community is one of the largest migrant group (Çağlar & Soysal, 2003). The study aims to scrutinise how this particular group produce ‘alternative diaspora spaces' and which specific places in cities act as spaces of contact or division. Through mixed methods (i.e. life-story interviews & surveys), the research targets 80 interviews and 600 surveys. The preliminary findings from the pilot study with 40 informants (2018) suggests, highly-skilled Turkish migrants experience cultural rejection from the older Turkish diaspora groups, hence they look for ways to culturally integrate themselves to the wider European society and advance their work and social networks through career and hobby-related venues, cultural NGOs, and neighbourhoods wherein cosmopolitan ways of being and living are tolerated/encouraged.

The existing literature invites further inquiry into why Turkish highly-skilled individuals move to European countries (Cesur et al., 2018), however lacks studies into how their migratory experiences differ from the labour and political Turkish diasporas. At a macro level, migration experiences of people from one developed region to another is understudied. While Turkey's economic and social development is not proportionately divided within its regions and the level of welfare in general is not equal to that of in the Western European countries, middle and upper classes from the major cities of Turkey have acquired substantial advantages over accessing higher education, learning foreign languages, mobility as well as pursuing careers and lifestyles of their choice. In that sense, the research fills the gap in migration research regarding how to evaluate Turkish highly-skilled migrants' lifestyle choices in specific European contexts and their social interactions with other diasporas and the host society in ‘liquid modernity' (Bauman, 2000) and ‘super-diversity' (Vertovec, 2007)

The project further aims to establish ‘alternative diasporas' as a concept wherein individuals have more contested feelings and attachments towards their native communities and ‘given' identities whilst they pursue the interest of connecting with others who share similar interests, lifestyles and ethics (e.g. LGBTQ platforms, arts & culture organisations, academia, Green Party, feminist organisations). The findings call attention for understanding alternative diasporic subjects as "omniculturals" (Moghaddam, 2012) who build social networks based on their professions, lifestyles and "habitus" (Bourdieu, 1990) whilst establishing their own cultural identity not only by internalising the traditions of the past but also by deriving authenticity from the exercise of freedom to choose their degree of ethnic/national/religious identities (Cohen, 2008).

Bauman, Z., 2013. Liquid modernity. John Wiley & Sons.
Bourdieu, P., 1990. Structures, habitus, practices in The Logic of Practice (translated by R. Nice [ Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990]), pp. 52-65
Cesur, N. S., Hanquinet, L., & Duru, D. N., 2018. The ‘European Turks': identities of high-skilled Turkish migrants in Europe. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, 18(1), 127-144.
Cohen, R., 2008. Global diasporas: An introduction. Oxon: Routledge.
Çağlar, A., & Soysal, L. (2003). Introduction: Turkish Migration to Germany-Forty Years After. New Perspectives on Turkey, 29, 1-18.
Liu, E., 1998. The accidental Asian: Notes of a native speaker. New York: Random House.
Moghaddam, F. M., 2012. The omnicultural imperative. Culture & Psychology, 18(3), 304-330.
Vertovec, S. (2007). Super-diversity and its implications. Ethnic and racial studies, 30(6), 1024-1054.
Yanasmayan, Z., 2016. Does education ‘trump' nationality? Boundary-drawing practices among highly educated migrants from Turkey. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 39(11), 2041-2059.





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