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University of Iowa News Release


June 1, 2007

UI Press Book Explores Tension Between Turkey And The West

The centuries-old tension between Turkey and the West is explored in a new book from the University of Iowa Press. "Cosmopolitical Claims: Turkish-German Literatures from Nodolny to Pamuk," published June 1, is available directly from the UI Press by phone at 800-621-2736 or online at

The book, by University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty member B. Venkat Mani, is also available from bookstores and online retailers. In the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, or Africa, contact Eurospan, 3 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8LU, United Kingdom, +44 (0) 1767 604972, or online at

When both France and Holland rejected the proposed constitution for the European Union in 2005, the votes reflected popular anxieties about the entry of Turkey into the European Union as much as they did ambivalence over ceding national sovereignty.

If there was any question that tensions were high, the explosive reaction of Europe's Muslim population to a series of cartoons of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper put them to rest. "Cosmopolitical Claims" studies the works of Sten Nadolny, Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Feridun Zaimoglu and Orhan Pamuk, the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature.

Mani's groundbreaking study explores these conflicts and dialogues, and the resulting cultural hybridization as they are expressed in four novels that document the complexity of Turkish-German cultural interactions in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Jost Hermand, who teaches at Humboldt University in Berlin, wrote, "At a time when most literary critics shy away from political topics, Venkat Mani puts the confrontation between cosmopolitanism versus terrorism at the center of his investigation.

"While many scholars concentrate on the specific relationship between Germans and Turks, 'Cosmopolitical Claims' branches out into central theoretical paradigms such as otherness, identity, affiliation and disaffiliation, subalternity, diasporic memory, and dissidence to doctrinaire theories of national belonging. There is no other book on this topic with such rich factual information, a wealth of theoretical considerations, and personal insights as this one."

Kader Konuk, a faculty member in the departments of Germanic languages and literatures and comparative literature at the University of Michigan, wrote, "One of the first books published in the United States to fully explore questions related to Turkish-German literature, 'Cosmopolitical Claims' makes a significant contribution to the fields of German studies, comparative literature, postcolonial studies and minority studies.

"Rather than focusing on the figure of the Turk in these literary texts, Venkat Mani explores questions of cosmopolitanism, introduces an alternative definition of Turkish-German literature and calls for reading strategies that are able to capture newly emerging textual practices. 'Cosmopolitical Claims' is instructive for scholarship in other national contexts on so-called minority literature."

In addition to his appointment in the German department, Mani is a faculty affiliate of the Center for German and European Studies, the Center for European Studies, the Global Studies Program and the Program in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Studies at UW-Madison. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in German studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University and a doctorate in German studies from Stanford University.

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