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

Dr. Michelle Lynn Kahn 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-Holocaust Germany and Europe in global and transnational context, focusing on far-right extremism, racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, Holocaust memory, migration, gender, and sexuality.

She is currently completing a book manuscript, Foreign in Two Homelands: The Transnational History of Turkish-German Migrants, 1961-1990, which examines the history of Turkish immigrants 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 300,000 men, women, and children (a remarkable 20% of the Turkish immigrant population) who remigrated 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.

Dr. Kahn’s second book project, Neo-Nazis in Germany and the U.S.: An Entangled History of Hate, 1945-1990s, investigates the transatlantic connections between East and West 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, and Africa. 

Dr. Kahn has published her scholarship in The Journal of Modern History, The Journal of Holocaust Research, and The Bulletin of the German Historical Institute. She was awarded the 2019 Fritz Stern Dissertation Prize, and her work has been generously supported by the American Historical Association, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, 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 is currently on the Editorial Board of The New Fascism Syllabus.

[Dr. Kahn is on research leave for the 2021-2022 academic year.]

Grants and Fellowships

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Mandel Center Fellowship, 2022

American Historical Association Bernadotte E. Schmitt Grant, 2021

Central European History Society Research Grant, 2018

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation German Chancellor Fellowship, 2015-16

The Europe Center Research Grant, 2015 and 2014

Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies Travel Grant, 2014

Beinecke Scholarship, 2012-17

Awards

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

Fritz Stern Dissertation Prize, German Historical Institute, 2019

Presentations

Invited Talks

“The American Influence on German Neo-Nazism: An Entangled History of Hate, 1970s-1990s,” Roundtable on Special Issue of The Journal of Holocaust Research, “Confronting Hatred: Neo-Nazism, Antisemitism, and Holocaust Studies Today,” Virtual, Apr. 2021

“Foreign at Home: Turkish-German Migrants and the Boundaries of Europe, 1961-1990,” Lecture in Acceptance of 2019 Fritz Stern Dissertation Prize, Annual Symposium of Friends of the German Historical Institute, Washington D.C., Nov. 2019

“Foreign at Home: The Transnational History of Turkish-German Migration,” German Historical Institute, Washington D.C., Feb. 2019

“Die transnationale Geschichte türkischer Migration in Deutschland,” University of Cologne Colloquium for Modern and Contemporary History, Cologne, Germany, May 2019

Conferences Co-Organized

Walls, Borders, and Partitions in Global Perspective, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA, Feb. 2020

The Future of Holocaust Memory: A Global Consideration of Holocaust Commemoration Held in the American South, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA, Sept. 2019

Panels Organized

The Berlin Wall: 30 Years Later, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA, Nov. 2019
Migration, Xenophobia, and the New Racism in Postwar Germany, German Studies Association Annual Conference, Pittsburgh, Sept. 2018

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

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

Conference Presentations

“The Global Far Right in History: German and American Neo-Nazis, 1970s-1990s,” Panel: Transatlantic Networks, Conference on “Shifting Constellations: Germany and Global (Dis)Order,” Institute for German and European Studies (IGES), University of Birmingham, UK, Virtual, Jun. 2021

“Third World Development Aid and the Politics of Return Migration: The Case of Turkish Guest Workers in West Germany, 1970s-1980s,” Panel: Guestworker Migration, Colonialism, and Development, Workshop on “Labour Migration in the Cold War and Beyond: New Questions, Methods, and Sources,” European Labour History Network, University of Glasgow, UK, Virtual, Jun. 2021 

“A German Neo-Nazi in the American Spotlight: Ingo Hasselbach’s Führer-Ex and the Transatlantic Far Right,” Seminar: The Nazi Legacy for Today’s America, German Studies Association Annual Conference, Portland, OR, Oct. 2019 

“Holocaust Memory and Germany’s Far Right: How PEGIDA and the AfD Tiptoe Around Neo-Nazism,” Panel:Contemporary Antisemitism and the Production of Memory, Conference on “The Future of Holocaust Memory: A Global Consideration of Commemoration Held in the American South,” University of Richmond, Richmond, VA, Sept. 2019

“Paying Turks to Leave: The 1983 ‘Remigration Law’ and the Crisis of West German Liberalism,” Panel: Migration, Xenophobia, and the New Racism in Postwar Germany, German Studies Association Annual Conference, Pittsburgh, PA, Sept. 2018

“Unhappy in the Homeland: Remigrant Children in 1980s Turkey,” Panel: Migrants’ Knowledge and Childhood, Bucerius Young Scholars Forum, German Historical Institute Paci, Berkeley, CA, Nov. 2017
“The Long Road Home: Cars, Vacations, and the Making the Almancı,” Panel: Transnational Approaches to Turkish-German Migration History, German Studies Association Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA, Oct. 2017

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

“Unhappy in the Homeland? Remigrant Children in Turkish and West German Discourse,” Panel: Beyond Multiculturalism: New Perspectives on Citizenship and National Belonging, Conference on “Immigration to Europe,” UC Berkeley Institute for European Studies, Berkeley, CA, Apr. 2017 

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

“Almancılar: The Historical Construction of the Turkish-German Transmigrant,” Panel: Transidentities: Immigrants and Refugees, Berlin Program Summer Workshop on “Becoming TransGerman: Transnational, Transdisciplinary, Transgender, Transhuman, Berlin,” Berlin, Germany, Jun. 2016

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

“Guilt by Association? The Eugenic Appropriation of Heilpädagogik,” with Edith Sheffer, Panel: New Spatial Understandings of the Holocaust, German Studies Association Annual Conference, Denver, CO, Oct. 2013

“Colonial Genocide in Living Memory: A Walk Through Munich’s Colonial Quarter,” Panel: Geschichte in der Gegenwart, University of New Mexico, Taos, NM, Jul. 2012

Publications
Books

Foreign in Two Homelands: The Transnational History of Turkish-German Migrants, 1961-1990 [manuscript in preparation]

Articles

“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

“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 (March 2021): 109-149

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

Blogs

“Rebels against the Homeland: Turkish Guest Workers in 1980s West German Anthropology,” Migrant Knowledge Blog of the German Historical Institute (Oct. 2019), https://migrantknowledge.org/2019/10/23/rebels-against-the-homeland/

“The Cologne Sexual Assaults in Historical Perspective,” Notches: (Re)marks on the History of Sexuality (Jan. 2016), http://notchesblog.com/2016/01/19/the-cologne-sexual-assaults-in-historical-perspective/

Reviews

Gaby Zipfel, et al., In Plain Sight: Exploring the Field of Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict, in The Journal of the History of Sexuality, Vol. 30, no. 2 (Sept. 2021); forthcoming

Christopher A. Molnar, Memory, Politics, and Yugoslav Migrations to Postwar Germany, in German Politics and Society, Vol. 39, no. 2 (Summer 2021); forthcoming

Ayşe Parla, Precarious Hope: Migration and the Limits of Belonging in Turkey, in Mashriq & Mahjar: Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies; forthcoming

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

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

Edith Sheffer, Asperger’s Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna, Introduction to Roundtable in H-Diplo (Nov. 2019)

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

Education
Ph.D., Stanford University
M.A., Stanford University
B.A., Claremont McKenna College
Contact Information
309 Humanities Building
(804) 289-8346
Areas of Expertise
Modern Europe
20th Century Germany
History of Migration
Race, Gender, Sexuality
Far-Right Extremism