Creating and Sustaining Evidence for “Failed Multiculturalism”: The Case of “Honor Killing” in Germany

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Abstract

In recent years, so-called “honor killings” came onto the political agenda of many migrant-receiving societies including Germany. There were heated debates over the meanings of these murders in courts, parliaments, media, and the broader public sphere. These debates centered mainly on the question of whether “honor killing” is a culturally specific type of violence that occurs only in certain cultural communities, or a form of violence against women that cuts across all cultures. In Germany, “honor killing” acquired a particular and relatively well-entrenched meaning when it first came to fore in 2005 after the murder of Hatun Sürücü; it has since been understood as a culturally specific form of violence illustrating the irreconcilable differences between minority and majority cultures. As such, it has been associated with the “failed multiculturalism” diagnosis, indicating the inability of traditional migrant communities to integrate into mainstream society. This article seeks to problematize the discursive link between “honor killing” and failed multiculturalism and to explore the factors that help establish and sustain this link in Germany. The article identifies the dominant and competing frames of “honor killing” as articulated in the course of parliamentary debates and the broader public sphere and seeks to understand the reasons for the dominance of culture-based frames. It explains the presumed linkage between “honor killing” and failed multiculturalism by drawing attention to the institutional and discursive context within which these murders were debated. This analysis reveals the significance of the broader context in shaping the way multiculturalism is understood and practiced in culturally plural societies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)658-678
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Volume59
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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