Accepted Paper:

Caught in the multicultural riddle: discursive frames of Turkish/Kurdish-speaking psychotherapists in Germany  


Christiane Falge (University of Bremen)

Paper short abstract:

The analysis of discursive frames of psychotherapists with a migrant background in the German health care system shows how shifting between a processual and a reifying discourse on cultural identities ultimately must form part of a multicultural society.

Paper long abstract:

The German health care system is currently experiencing a debate about the accomodation of cultural diversity. Claims of health professionals for an intercultural aperture of the health system are the salient voices in this debate. This paper analyses discursive frames of a group of mental health experts with a migrant background in their process of transformation from a loose network to an institutionalized, claim-making group of professionals. During its annual meetings, this group which largely identifies with a turkish/kurdish background offers as much a space for professional exchange as well as for the practicing and signalling of their cultural identities.

Confronted with immigrants severe access barriers to mental health care, high access barriers for experts and patients with migrant backgrounds and a fierce competition within the German health market, members of the association began to formalise the association and develop strategies that legitimize them as "culturally sensitive migrant experts". The paper analyses the multiculturalist discourse that emerges in this process and the strategic ways with which members of this group shift between the reification and relativisation of their cultural identities. This includes an analysis of their 1. multidimensional roles as cultural watch dogs over their culture as an exclusive club, 2. own alienation from aspects of 'their culture' and 3. role as psychotherapists. Their shift between these two poles will be discussed and abstracted as an central aspect of multicultural societies in Europe.

Panel W051
Migrants' pathways to health care: access barriers and patterns of resilience and mutuality