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The Paradoxes of Privileged Mobility: Hope and Waiting among Turkish Migrant Doctors in Contemporary Germany

Foto: Jerome Dahdah. License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Deed

Postdoc Project: The Paradoxes of Privileged Mobility: Hope and Waiting among Turkish Migrant Doctors in Contemporary Germany

Turkey’s doctors dream of working in Germany. Today, a great number of newly graduated doctors and experienced doctors have already left Turkey and still continue to leave Turkey to work in Germany—in pursuit of a better life for themselves and their families. Apart from complaints about the political instability, authoritarian system, and burgeoning financial crisis with rapidly increasing living costs, my observations from my preliminary fieldwork among migrant doctors in Germany reveal that doctors have a myriad of reasons for emigrating from Turkey. The most prevalent are the physical and verbal assaults against doctors by their patients and patients’ relatives or friends, the physical and psychological pressures caused by heavy workloads in overloaded hospitals, the disappearance of the respect among the society for the profession, mobbing and harassment from superiors at work, the lack of the possibility of upward social mobility” (Hage 2003), living a life in permanent insecurities, irregularities and inequalities, the lack of freedom, and limited access to legal rights.

Turkish Doctors are among the professionals who enjoy privileged access to a visa through the EU Blue Card program. This regular migration program evokes the belief that doctors are desirable migrants and are entitled to a faster acquisition of work and residence permit. The program also leads doctors to believe that they will enjoy facilitated visa application procedures and  simplified conditions for family reunification. However,  most doctors I talked to often share the experience that this program does not always and straightforwardly deliver on its promises. The point of departure of this research are the paradoxes in Turkish doctors’ privileged mobility to contemporary Germany. The concepts of hope and waiting in the context of migration will be used to  examine these paradoxes.

My preliminary field research shows that there is an obvious discrepancy between how Turkish doctors imagine and experience their migration to Germany and how it is governed by the German state. The relationship between hope, waiting, and mobility in the context of regular migration has received less attention in anthropological literature on migration and mobilities. This research project aims to explore the paradoxical experiences of Turkish migrant doctors that evolve during visa application process and after arrival in Germany.

To pursue this goal,
• I set out to determine how the paradoxes of privileged mobility are generated against the backdrop of the whimsicality and complex mazes of the German government’s migration bureaucracy.
• I attempt to examine how different actors working in private consulting firms support migrant doctors in dealing with the paradoxical obstacles.
• I aim to investigate the ways in which Turkish doctors and their family members contend with the social, emotional, and economic implications of uncertain waiting.


Funded by: Fritz Thyssen Foundation

Project staff at ABI:
Duration of the project:
2023 - 2024