Postmigrant Theatre and Cultural Diversity in the Arts: Race, Precarity and Artistic Labour in Berlin

Komurcu, Onur. 2016. Postmigrant Theatre and Cultural Diversity in the Arts: Race, Precarity and Artistic Labour in Berlin. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This study analyses the ways in which artistic labour is racialised and made precarious. It examines the working and living conditions of Turkish German artists throughout the institutionalisation of postmigrant theatre and the implementation of cultural diversity in the arts policies in Berlin’s cultural landscape. It illuminates the dynamics that unfold with regards to cultural diversity in the arts and the labour involved in its practices. The main argument of the thesis is, that the emergence and development of postmigrant theatre needs to be understood as the successful establishment and institutionalisation of new aesthetic, narrative and political tools, which, on the one hand, signal the arrival of Turkish German and other artists of colour and of the language of cultural diversity in the field of the arts in the midst of a new globalised urban cosmopolitanism. On the other hand, however, this thesis also accounts for the still limited access of Turkish German and other artists of colour to institutions of high culture, for their precarious and racialised labour conditions and the lack of material resources available for the diversity work that the artists of the postmigrant theatre movement do.

As a critical ethnography conducted over the span of seven years, this study maps out the field of opportunities and the restrictions that Turkish German artists working in postmigrant theatre experience in their everyday lives and in negotiating their position in institutional life. This includes their experience in arts school education, the artistic labour market, the sphere of cultural policy, existing funding structures and public discourses about migration, gentrification, cultural diversity and the arts in Germany. The study shows how postmigrant theatre artists’ representational practices produce new postmigrant ethnicities, and challenge narrow conceptions of ethnicity, German culture, national identity as well as power relations in Germany’s theatre landscape. Postmigrant theatre artists perform acts of memory by reaffirming intergenerationally transmitted cultural memories and lived experiences of migration. These become political through acts of remembrance that counteract the long neglect of Turkish German hi/stories. Ultimately, the artists of the postmigrant theatre movement determine the meaning of “diversity in the arts” by working collaboratively to establish sustainable funding and employment structures, networks of solidarity and by giving voice to an increasingly well-organised movement of artists who critique the racialised division of labour in the state-subsisided theatre and cultural landscape.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Cultural Diversity in the Arts, Postmigrant Theatre, Germany, Multiculturalism, Diversity, Racism, Race, Ethnicity, Precarious Labour, Artistic Labour, Cultural Policy

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


31 January 2016

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

15 Feb 2016 12:02

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 15:24


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