College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

Critical Ethnic Studies


Turkish, second-generation, identity, migrant organization, enclave


This project investigates the preservation of Turkishness and ethnic identity in second generation Turkish Americans in the Chicago area. Since the turn of the century Turkish Americans have been part of the fabric of major metropolitan cities such as Chicago, coming in three major migration waves, but are underrepresented in terms of research and scholarly analysis. I examine the role of migrant organizations, focusing on Turkish American migrant organizations in Chicago, and their effect on retention and maintenance of ethnicity. I am interested in the influences that preserve the Turkish connections within these migrant families and how the connections to heritage are lost or solidified among second generation Turkish Americans. Using Gans' notion of symbolic ethnicity, Portes & Rumbaut's work with the second generation, Sebnem Ak9c3par study of the role of migrant organizations and the importance of transnational space along with llhan Kaya's connections between space and identity among the Turkish American community, I posit that the role of the migrant organization and specifically it's connection to second generation Turkish Americans cannot be underestimated. Though there are other influential factors, the migrant organization's role seems crucial. Based on interviews with second-generation Turkish American subjects in Chicago, along with community stakeholders, it appears three factors influence second generation Turkish Americans connection to heritage, or in this case, Turkishness: family, migrant organization, and the perception of ethnic identity. As Turks are unique in both their physical presentation and religious backgrounds, they provide an intriguing demographic for this study as racial ambiguity, discrimination, and host culture lack of knowledge about Turks or Turkey are revealed as obstacles in their assimilation and integration.