Division III — Turkçe and Deutsch Places: Agency, Resistance, and Ethnographic Thickness in the Voices of Second Generation Turkish Women in Berlin, Germany
For May 2007 Hampshire College graduate Sophie Woodruff, there won't be long, lazy summer hours pondering what to do with her bright future. She will be too busy packing and heading off to Turkey, where she will spend three months in intensive language training in the city of Ankara, then head on in the fall to Germany to continue work begun with her Hampshire Division III, or senior project.
In spring 2005 Woodruff studied in Germany through Hampshire's semester in Berlin program, working in a Kurdish women's center there. She returned in fall 2006 to conduct ethnographic field research for her Division III. Drawing on and expanding the network she had built in 2005, she interviewed Turkish women about their experiences living in Germany, their feelings of living as "other," and issues such as access to education. Her Division III thesis, working with a faculty committee of Associate Professor of History Jutta Sperling (chair) and Professor of Philosophy Marlene Gerber Fried, was titled "Turkçe and Deutsch Places: Agency, Resistance, and Ethnographic Thickness in the Voices of Second Generation Turkish Women in Berlin, Germany."
As a Fulbright Fellow Woodruff will narrow her research focus to women in one or two families, with repeated intergenerational interviews exploring their views on immigration and the effects of relocation to Germany. Her research is important, with potential to contribute to cross-cultural understanding. Little scholarly work has been done on the experiences of this specific group of Muslim women. For Woodruff, a New Orleans native with a sunny, outgoing personality, it is also an exciting opportunity to reunite with an important network of friends.
This fall will provide her fourth experience studying in Germany—all four opportunities fully supported by grants.
One of her grandmothers is German, having come to the United States as the wife of an American soldier post-World War II, but prior to college Sophie had not visited the country or learned the language. So, as soon as she enrolled as a Hampshire student, she sought the opportunity to learn German, enrolling in language courses at nearby Amherst College through the Five College consortium. She received her first grant through an Amherst-connected summer program, an opportunity to study in a small village on the East-West border of Germany through Friendship without Borders. The experience was so positive that she applied for further assistance for Hampshire's semester in Berlin program, then Division III research travel, and now the Fulbright.
In addition to her Fulbright Fellowship research, while in Germany Woodruff plans to pursue graduate studies at the University of Frankfurt/Oder, with an eye toward law school and a career in international law with a focus on immigration policies.