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Kader Konuk

German-Jewish Humanists in Turkish Exile (30.06.2015)

Kader Konuk follows the plight of German-Jewish humanists who escaped Nazi persecution by seeking exile in a Muslim-dominated society. Konuk asks why philologists like Leo Spitzer and Erich Auerbach found humanism at home in Istanbul at the very moment it was banished from Europe. She challenges the notion of exile as synonymous with intellectual isolation and shows the reciprocal effects of German émigrés on Turkey's humanist reform movement. By making literary critical concepts productive for our understanding of Turkish cultural history, Konuk provides a new approach to the study of exile. Central to the lecture is Erich Auerbach's Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, written in Istanbul after he fled Germany in 1936. Konuk draws on some of Auerbach's key concepts—figura as a way of conceptualizing history and mimesis as a means of representing reality—to show how Istanbul shaped Mimesis and to understand Turkey's humanist reform movement as a type of cultural mimesis.

Prof. Dr. Kader Konuk

Professor for Turkish Studies, Turkish Literature and Cultural Studies at University of Duisburg-Essen

Main Research Interests

  • Migration
  • German-Jewish and Turkish-Jewish Literature
  • East West Mimesis
  • Secularism
  • Exile Studies

Publications (selected)

  • East West Mimesis: Auerbach in Turkey. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010.
  • Identitäten im Prozeß: Literatur von Autorinnen aus und in der Türkei in deutscher, englischer und türkischer Sprache. Essen: Blaue Eule, 2001.
  • With Cathy Gelbin and Peggy Piesche: AufBrüche: Kulturelle Produktionen von Migrantinnen, Schwarzen und jüdischen Frauen in Deutschland. Sulzbach/Taunus: Ulrike Helmer, 2000.