Headshot of Dr.Michelle Lynn Kahn

Dr. Michelle Lynn Kahn

Assistant Professor of History
Curriculum Vitae

  • Profile

     

    Dr. Michelle Lynn Kahn (she/her) is an Assistant Professor of Modern European History at University of Richmond. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. from Stanford University, with a Ph.D. Minor in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her research situates post-1945 Germany and Europe in global and transnational context, focusing on migration, racism, far-right extremism, Holocaust memory, gender, and sexuality.

    Her first book, Foreign in Two Homelands: Racism, Return Migration, and Turkish-German History, is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press in 2024. The book examines the transnational history of Turkish migrants in (West) Germany, who were recruited as “guest workers” in 1961 and soon became the largest ethnic minority. Based on archival and oral history research in both countries and 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 250,000 men, women, and children (a remarkable 15% of the Turkish migrant 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 borders, the book contributes to our understanding of racism after Hitler and argues for the inclusion of migrant narratives (as well as home country narratives) in our understanding of European politics, identities, and geographic space.

    Her second book project, Neo-Nazis in Germany and the United States: An Entangled History of Hate, 1945-2000, investigates the transatlantic connections between German and American neo-Nazis from the fall of the Third Reich through the reunification of divided Germany and the rise of the Internet era. In tracing neo-Nazism beyond German borders, the project unearths an underacknowledged reality, which reshapes our understanding of the global far right today: the strengthening of German neo-Nazism was not the homegrown or inevitable successor to the Third Reich, but rather owed in large part to mutual American influence. In the decades after Hitler, when the East and West German governments struggled to suppress Nazism, American neo-Nazis exploited the U.S. right to free speech and the increasing ease of global communications to circumvent German censorship laws, ship propaganda across the Atlantic Ocean, and galvanize a younger generation of German neo-Nazis who turned their hatred not only against Jews but also against the immigrants, asylum seekers, and “foreigners” who arrived amid the postwar mass migration to Europe. Related to this project, Dr. Kahn is also researching the historical connections between German neo-Nazis and other extremists across the globe, including in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa.

    She is also the co-editor, with Dr. Lauren Stokes (Northwestern University), of a volume tentatively titled Racism and Anti-Racism in Divided Germany, which brings together new scholarship on the history of racialization and anti-racist activism in both East and West Germany during the Cold War and since unification, focusing on the 1970s to 1990s. The volume argues that East and West Germany each developed distinct attitudes towards racialization, and that these attitudes have shaped German attitudes toward racism since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Overall, the book aims to understand how “race after Hitler” developed into “race after the Cold War.” 

    Dr. Kahn has published her scholarship in The Journal of Modern History, Central European History, The Journal of Holocaust Research, and The Bulletin of the German Historical Institute. She was awarded the 2022 Chester Penn Higby Prize of the American Historical Association’s Modern Europe Section, as well as the 2019 Fritz Stern Dissertation Prize of the German Historical Institute. Her work has been generously supported by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American Historical Association, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Central European History Society, and Stanford University’s Europe Center and Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies. Between 2015 and 2017, she was a Research Associate at the Documentation Centre and Museum of Migration to Germany (DOMiD e.V.) and a Guest Scholar at University of Cologne. She serves on the Editorial Board of The New Fascism Syllabus.

    If you are a University of Richmond student who is interested in doing research or pursuing internship opportunities related to Dr. Kahn’s areas of expertise, please send her an email.

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    • Grants and Fellowships

      Leibnitz Centre for Contemporary History (Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, ZZF), Universität Potsdam, Summer Fellowship, 2024

      United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Mandel Center Fellowship, 2022

      ***William J. Lowenberg Memorial Fellowship on America, the Holocaust, and Jews

      American Historical Association, Bernadotte E. Schmitt Grant, 2021

      Central European History Society, Research Grant, 2018

      Haas Center, Stanford University, Publish Service Fellowship, 2017-2018

      Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, German Chancellor Fellowship, 2015-2016

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

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

      Beinecke Scholarship, 2012-2017

    • Awards

      Chester Penn Higby Prize, American Historical Association, 2022 [prize citation]

      Faculty Member of the Year Award, Omicron Delta Kappa, University of Richmond, 2020

      Fritz Stern Dissertation Prize, German Historical Institute, 2019 [prize citation]

  • Publications
    Books

    Foreign in Two Homelands: Racism, Return Migration, and Turkish-German History (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press, 2024)

    Neo-Nazis in Germany and the U.S.: An Entangled History of Hate, 1945-2000 (monograph, in progress)

    Racism and Anti-Racism in Divided Germany, co-edited with Lauren Stokes (edited volume, in progress)

    Journal Articles

    “Antisemitism, Holocaust Denial, and Germany’s Far Right: How the AfD Tiptoes around Nazism.” The Journal of Holocaust Research. Vol. 36, no. 2-3 (Jun. 2022): 164-185 [read]

    “Rethinking Central Europe as a Migration Space: From the Ottoman Empire through the Cold War and the Refugee Crisis.” Central European History. Vol. 55, no. 1 (Mar. 2022): 118-137 [read]

    “The American Influence on German Neo-Nazism: An Entangled History of Hate, 1970s-1990s.” The Journal of Holocaust Research. Vol. 35, no. 2 (May 2021): 91-105 [read]

    “The Long Road Home: Vacations and the Making of the ‘Germanized Turk’ Across Cold War Europe.” The Journal of Modern History. Vol. 93, no. 1 (Mar. 2021): 109-149 [read]

    “Between Ausländer and Almancı: The Transnational History of Turkish-German Migration.” Bulletin of the German Historical Institute. Vol. 66 (Spring 2020): 53-82 [read]

    Blogs

    “Rebels against the Homeland: Turkish Guest Workers in 1980s West German Anthropology,” Migrant Knowledge Blog of the German Historical Institute (Oct. 2019) [read]

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

    Reviews

    Sara Pugach, African Students in East Germany, 1949-1975, for Cold War History, Vol. 23, no. 2 (May 2023) [read]

    Stefan Zeppenfeld, Vom Gast zum Gastwirt? Türkische Arbeitswelten in West-Berlin, for German Studies Review. Vol. 45, no. 3 (Oct. 2022): 602-604 [read]

    Ayşe Parla, Precarious Hope: Migration and the Limits of Belonging in Turkey, in Mashriq & Mahjar: Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies, Vol. 9, no. 1 (2022): 181-184 [read]

    Christopher A. Molnar, Memory, Politics, and Yugoslav Migrations to Postwar Germany, for German Politics and Society. Vol. 39, no. 2 (Summer 2021): 101-103 [read]

    Gaby Zipfel, et al., In Plain Sight: Exploring the Field of Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict, for The Journal of the History of Sexuality. Vol. 30, no. 2 (May 2021): 321-323 [read]

    Jennifer A. Miller, Turkish Guest Workers in Germany: Hidden Lives and Contested Borders, 1960s-1980, for Central European History. Vol. 53, no. 2 (Sept. 2020): 695-697 [read]

    Sarah Thomsen Vierra, Turkish Germans in the Federal Republic of Germany: Immigration, Space, and Belonging, 1961-1990, for German History. Vol. 38, no. 1 (Mar. 2020): 181-182 [read]

    Edith Sheffer, Asperger’s Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna, for H-Diplo. Introduction to roundtable, with Benjamin P. Hein and Samuel Clowes Huneke. (Nov. 2019) [read]

    Rita Chin, The Crisis of Multiculturalism in Europe: A History, for EuropeNow. Council for European Studies (Feb. 2018) [read]