Deutschländersiedlung (Germany in Turkey: Gated Communities)

Several years ago, the filmmaker, Aysun Bademsoy, came across the “Deutschländersiedlungen” (“German settlements”) in Turkey, which have arisen in the last 10-20 years along the connecting roads between the major coastal cities. “Deutschländer” (roughly translated “people from Germany”) is the name given in Turkey to Turks who have lived and worked many years abroad, mostly in the Federal Republic of Germany, and then returned to Turkey. Bademsoy followed their everyday life in the settlements with her camera. These residential complexes are furnished with their own infrastructure and a private guard service. The settlements are reminiscent of company housing provided by American companies in the 1960s for their employees and the employees’ families, 18 km from Mersin. The oil refinery there was under American ownership at that time. It is an image of the modernist dream – a home of one’s own, separate restaurants and bars and, most of all, a swimming pool – which has been reconstructed by the “Deutschländersiedlungen”. At the same time, these residential complexes have also copied the “Better Living” model for Americans living abroad. Most of those who return are retired and/or able to allow their capital to work for them. At the same time, this residential dream is also an isolation, because many of them found that “their Turkey” had vanished when they returned. Living in the residential complex means withdrawing from social processes. The balconies face the center of the complex, thus turning away from their surroundings. Especially for many of the young people living in “Oasis”, “Paradise 2” or “By the Olive Grove”, this is a difficult situation. After living so long in Germany, many of them hardly speak Turkish; they are irritated, at the least, by the school uniforms and strict separation of the sexes in the “returner schools” and even more isolated from the near-by cities than their parents. Filmmaker, born 1960, lives and works in Berlin.


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