My new book, The Crisis of Multiculturalism in Europe: A History, has just been published by Princeton University Press (August 2017). This project builds on my previous engagement with postwar immigration and the social, cultural, and political effects of diversity, but takes these issues in several new and more ambitious directions. At the most basic level, the book moves away from an exclusive focus on Germany and offers a comparative analysis of the politics of multiculturalism in Europe. It weaves together the histories of Great Britain, France, and Germany, and includes extended discussions of the Netherlands and Switzerland at key moments. It also addresses a broader readership in order to historicize contemporary social issues such as the current refugee crisis, the so-called Muslim problem, and the putative collapse of multiculturalism. In The Crisis of Multiculturalism in Europe, I offer an analysis of the new common sense that multiculturalism has “failed” in Europe, arguing that this conclusion is deeply misleading. As state policy in the 1980s, multiculturalism was vilified before it even had a chance to take root. As a description of demographic diversity, declarations of multiculturalism’s “failure” disavow the millions of immigrants long resident in Europe. And as a social blueprint, the rejection of multiculturalism obfuscates the ways in which older forms of racism were remade under the guise of intractable cultural differences between Muslims and liberal-democratic European society. The book has been reviewed in the New York Times Book Review, Financial Times, The Nation, NRC Handelsblad, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Truthdig, and Publishers Weekly.
My first book, The Guest Worker Question in Postwar Germany (Cambridge University Press, 2007; paperback, 2009) examines the social, political, cultural, and ideological consequences of the postwar labor recruitment for the Federal Republic of Germany. Focusing on the national public debate about the guest worker program and its impacts, I show West German society wrestled with the growing presence of large numbers of non-Germans from the beginning of the recruitment process in 1955 to reunification in 1990. I argue that wider discussions in the West German public sphere included not only the official discourse made up of political pronouncements and debates in the legislature and political parties, but also the efforts of minority intellectuals to recast that discourse. Ultimately, I demonstrate the ways in which the process of debating the effects of the postwar labor migration reshaped the very boundaries of German identity, culture, and nation.
In the process of finishing my first book project, I began to consider the larger issue of “race” in postwar Germany more generally. This line of inquiry resulted in a collaborative book, After the Nazi Racial State: Difference and Democracy in Germany and Europe (University of Michigan Press, 2009), with Heide Fehrenbach, Geoff Eley, and Atina Grossmann. The book sought to open up a major, but hitherto unexplored question: what happened to ideas about race and ethnicity in Germany after Hitler?