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Dr. Michelle Lynn Kahn
Dr. Michelle Lynn Kahn
Assistant Professor of History

I am an historian of Modern Europe with a particular interest in transnational/global connections, migration, race, gender, sexuality, and human rights.

My current book manuscript, entitled Foreign at Home: Turkish-German Migrants and the Boundaries of Europe, 1961-1990, examines the transnational history of Turkish immigrants in Germany, who were recruited as guest workers in 1961 and soon became the largest ethnic minority. Based on archival research in both countries and in both languages, the book traces the process by which Turkish guest workers and their children came to feel dually estranged—as “foreign” in Germany and as “Germanized” in Turkey. The centerpiece is the little-known story of the over 300,000 men, women, and children (a remarkable 20% of the Turkish immigrant population) who returned to Turkey amid the anti-Muslim xenophobia of 1980s West Germany, only to encounter parallel difficulties reintegrating in their own homeland. Situated within the broader contexts of West German immigration policy, Turkish-European relations, global finance and development, and the policing of Cold War European borders, the book argues for the inclusion of migrant narratives (as well as home country narratives) in our understanding of European politics, identities, and geographic space.

I am also actively collecting research material for a number of other projects, including the global ties of Neo-Nazi and Skinhead groups across Cold War Europe, migration in Weimar Germany, and European responses to the Herero Genocide.

While completing my doctoral work at Stanford University, I served as a 2015-2016 German Chancellor Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, hosted in-house at the Documentation Centre and Museum of Migration to Germany (DOMiD) in Cologne. There, I developed strong interests in public history, digital history, and community-engaged learning. I strive to incorporate these approaches into both my scholarship and my teaching.

Grants and Fellowships

Central European History Society Research Grant, 2018 

Haas Center for Public Service Graduate Public Service Fellowship, 2017-2018

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation German Chancellor Fellowship, 2015-2016

The Europe Center Research Grant, Stanford University, 2014, 2015

Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies Travel Grant, Stanford University, 2014

The Beinecke Scholarship, 2012-2017


Panels Organized

“Migration, Xenophobia, and The New Racism in Postwar Germany,” German Studies Association Annual Conference, Pittsburgh, PA, Sept. 2018

“Transnational Approaches to Turkish-German Migration History,” German Studies Association Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA, Oct. 2017

“From Emigration to Post-Migration and the ‘Refugee Crisis’: Historical Perspectives on Migration in Austria and Germany,” The Europe Center, Stanford, CA, May 2017

Papers Presented

“Paying Turks to Leave: The 1983 ‘Remigration Law’ and the Crisis of West German Liberalism,” German Studies Association Annual Conference, Pittsburgh, PA, Sept. 2018

“Unhappy in the Homeland: Remigrant Children in 1980s Turkey,” German Historical Institute Bucerius Young Scholars Forum, Berkeley, CA, Nov. 2017

“The Long Road Home: Cars, Vacations, and the Making the Almancı,” German Studies Association Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA, Oct. 2017 

“The Making of the Almancı: Turkish-German Migrants and the Boundaries of Turkish National Belonging,” Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies Annual Conference: Understanding Turkey, Stanford, CA, Apr. 2017

“Unhappy in the Homeland: Remigrant Children in Turkish and West German Discourse,” UC Berkeley Institute for European Studies Conference: Immigration to Europe, Berkeley, CA, Apr. 2017

“Kicking Out the Turks: Turkish Remigrants Between Ankara and Bonn in the 1980s,” Middle East Studies Association Annual Conference, Boston, MA, Nov. 2016

“Almancılar: The Historical Construction of the Turkish-German Transmigrant,” Berlin Program Summer Workshop: Becoming TransGerman, Berlin, Germany, Jun. 2016 

“Die transnationale Geschichte türkischer Migration in Deutschland,” Kolloquium für Neuere und Neueste Geschichte, Universität zu Köln, Cologne, Germany, May 2016 

“Mothers of the Turks: Feminists, Foreigners, and Everyday Integration in a Globalizing West Germany,” Loyola University History Graduate Student Conference, Chicago, IL, Nov. 2014 

“Guilt by Association?: The Eugenic Appropriation of Heilpädagogik,” German Studies Association Annual Conference, Denver, CO, Oct. 2013 

“Colonial Genocide in Living Memory: A Walk through Munich’s Colonial Quarter,” University of New Mexico German Summer School, Taos, NM, Jul. 2012


“The Cologne Sexual Assaults in Historical Perspective,” Notches: (Re)marks on the History of Sexuality (Jan. 19, 2016)


Rita Chin, "The Crisis of Multiculturalism in Europe," EuropeNow (Feb. 1, 2018)

Ph.D., Stanford University
M.A., Stanford University
B.A., Claremont McKenna College
Contact Information
315 Ryland Hall
(804) 289-8346
Areas of Expertise
Modern Europe
20th Century Germany
History of Migration
Race, Gender, Sexuality