Student Spotlight: Özden Ocak Receives Grant

Özden Ocak received a 2015 GMU dissertation completion grant in support of her dissertation entitled “Theorizing France’s Ministry of Immigration and National Identity: Borders, Populations and National Identity in Postcolonial Europe.” Read below to learn about what Özden has to say about her research.    


Academic profile

I defended my field statements entitled “Nationalism and Sovereignty in Modern Europe” and “Cosmopolitanism and its Discontents” in December 2011. After defending my research proposal in May 2012, I conducted research from September 2012 to March 2013 in Paris, France as a visiting researcher at Institut de Recherche Interdisciplinaire sur les Enjeux Sociaux, Sciences Sociales, Politique, Santé (IRIS), at L’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), thanks to a dissertation fellowship from the Ali Vural Ak Global Islamic Studies Center at George Mason University. I spent Fall 2014 as a visiting fellow at the Maastricht University Center for Migration, Citizenship and Development (MACIMIDE), where I benefited enormously from the opportunity to collaborate with researchers working on similar themes and finished a dissertation chapter focusing on the historical and contemporary links between development and immigration in France.


Dissertation Research

My dissertation “Theorizing France’s Ministry of Immigration and National Identity: Borders, Populations and National Identity in Postcolonial Europe,” explores the ways in which immigration and national identity are conceived of and governed together by examining the French Ministry of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Co-development created in 2007 by the Sarkozy government. Combining a genealogical and political economic analysis, I suggest that the immigration problem emerged in France within the colonial welfare mechanisms of integration and development with the purpose of governing the colonized subjects in the metropole by maintaining the colonial subject and economic relations. Against this backdrop, my dissertation examines how the neoliberalization of the immigration dispositif reconfigures the ways in which Europe thinks and acts upon the rest of the world. I trace the consequences of this transformation in individual chapters on integration, development and identity. Thus complicating the dominant view that reduces contemporary French and wider European immigration politics to increasing anti-immigrant hostility, I examine the changing rationale behind the mechanisms and institutions in and through which immigration is problematized, the strategic purposes the immigration problem serves and the ways in which the immigrants, sending countries, and the French state and citizens are implicated in these processes. A shortened version of my chapter that examines the national identity and immigration link is forthcoming in the journal Patterns of Prejudice.

The completion grant I received from GMU provided much appreciated support during the final stages of dissertation writing. Thanks to this grant, I am currently working only on the revisions of my dissertation, which I will defend in August 2015.