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female Turkish pioneers

September 29, 2023 to April 9, 2024

It has been 60 years since the first Turkish guest workers arrived Haarlem came. Although they came temporarily, most have stayed and are still living Haarlem. The fourth generation has now been born here.

Because it is unknown to many that not only men, but also women came as guest workers, we want to use this exhibition to draw attention to this 'forgotten history' about some of our fellow residents. We do this on the basis of personal stories and traditional objects. But especially with photos by the renowned photographers Bertien van Manen and Cigdem Yuksel.

Collaboration with the Turkish community in the Netherlands and Turkey
We think it is very important that this exhibition arises from and is supported by the Turkish community Haarlem, that is why we work closely with Turkish women who want to tell their story and have a large network in the Turkish community. Together with them, the content and the most important themes and perspectives of the exhibition were determined.

Education project Erasmus+
Part of the exhibition is called the Erasmus+ education project The stories of Turkish guest workers in the Netherlands funding an exchange and collaboration between students of the Haarlem College and high school of Sakarya University in Turkey. Exhibitions about 60 years of Turkish guest workers are organized at both locations Haarlem. The students record the stories behind the migration using interviews (oral history), photos, video and other digital resources. Their results will be shown in the exhibition.

Learn more about the project:

Meet the pioneers from the exhibition

Ayse Demiral

Her grandfather was the first of the family to come to the Netherlands in the 1970s. She sees growing up with two cultures as an enrichment, not as a limitation. The first generation had so much trouble and her generation has it easier. They have paved the way for them so that they, Ayse and her children, encounter fewer obstacles. Education really makes a big difference between generations. Her mother was illiterate. She was not allowed to go to school in her youth, as that was taboo for women. Ayse was allowed to go to school and was able to study. What makes her Dutch? Freedom. You also have that in Turkey, but in a different way. Here you have more freedom and more options. Here you can choose what you want to become. She has adopted cooking and Turkish culture and would also pass it on to her daughter. Just like the tradition of getting together with the family, that is important to her.

Fadime Kocaman

In 1960, Fadime Kocaman emigrated to the Netherlands with her family, looking for work and the opportunity to buy a house. The economic situation in Turkey at the time was extremely difficult. The early days were challenging for the family as they did not speak the language, but they gradually adapted. Nowadays they visit the Netherlands once a year. They managed to buy a house and save money. They are now enjoying their time in Turkey and the money they have earned through hard work.
Fadime returned to her hometown out of homesickness. She notes that there have been many changes in Turkey, especially in the rising cost of living.


View here the photos of the traditional dolma turning workshop

The exhibition is financially supported by: