Volume 10, Issue 2, 2016
„Wegmobilisieren“ bezieht sich auf eine staatliche Praxis der impliziten Abschiebung von Migrant_innen aus dem italienischen Territorium in andere EU-Räume. Anhand grenzpolitischer Strategien im Rahmen der von Italien proklamierten Emergenza Nordafrica (Notstand Nordafrika, 2011-2013) lässt sich nachvollziehen, dass das EU-Migrationsmanagement nicht primär bzw. nicht nur auf Maßnahmen abzielt, die zum Zweck haben, Migrant_innen aus dem EU-Raum abzuschieben. Mittels der Proklamierung eines humanitären Notstands wurde eine italienische Politik des „Governing Exceptions“ gerechtfertigt, d. h. ein situatives, ad-hoc improvisiertes Management von Migrationsbewegungen, in dessen Zuge Dublin-Regelungen temporär ausgesetzt und Migrant_innen dazu aufgefordert werden, sich weiter zu bewegen. In Anlehnung an die kritische Migrationsforschung lässt sich dieses mobilisierende Management als ein Effekt der Kämpfe der Migration mit bestehenden Mobilitätsregulierungen begreifen.
Revisiting the historically rich relationship between theater and politics in the wake of worldwide protest movements at the turn of the last decade, this essay examines what theater can still do for street politics. With a turn to contemporary political and transnational theater in Berlin, the 2013 theater production Telemachos – Should I Stay or Should I Go?, written and directed by Anestis Azas and Prodromos Tsinikoris, comes into focus. As a play about Greek-German relations and the repercussions of the on-going Greek debt crisis, Telemachos not only recharges and re-localizes European politics but also orchestrates a performative cross-cultural encounter that promises to resonate beyond the theater space.
This paper addresses attempts to invent a representational form for Europe in the early 2000s. This was a key period of European Union expansion during which the Euro was introduced and European markets became more closely integrated. Yet in the age of the Euro, the question emerged with renewed vigor as to how to construct an affective identity for a group of states united through economic channels. This period of euphoric growth thus also proved to be a crucial moment of self-visualization. A commensurate official EU visual rhetoric developed that predictably celebrated the apparent collapse of borders and an increasingly unfettered flow of goods, people, and money. Independently produced representations of Europe made at this time, however, painted a more nuanced and conflicted picture of the expanding EU. This paper examines two wildly different films made in the year the Euro launched—the French comedy L’Auberge Espagnole and the socio-critical, Swedish feature Lilya 4-ever—that presented alternative narratives of contemporary “Europe”. A close reading of the films, juxtaposed with an analysis of the visual language of official EU representation, demonstrates that the primary concern of these new “European” narratives lay in finding a visual means of exploring how human bodies were to be integrated culturally and politically when they were conceived of and defined in economic terms. The films, I therefore argue, thus make the tensions between political and economic bodies that trouble contemporary Europe (e.g. the refugee, Grexit and Brexit crises) visible avant la lettre. I suggest that these narratives stage Europe as a border spectacle, in which borders are understood not simply as geographic entities, but also as the contested limits between political and economic authorities.
Is visualization interpretation? It is a question not traditionally posed in humanities research – an area of study in which words on paper historically have been seen as the primary medium through which we express our interpretive, analytical, and critical ideas. It is a question, however, that in light of the myriad visualization tools available to the humanist researcher, ultimately needs to be dealt with in the field of German Studies. This paper is a contribution to the budding field of spatial humanities and, as such, it answers the question in the affirmative. Visualization assists readers of literary fiction with the construction of mental models of a given work for a potentially clearer interpretative understanding. We hypothesize that the geographical railway space in nineteenth-century German Realism was not merely a passive setting for the development of this emblematic technology, that is, it is not a simple record of the remarkable European railway expansion, but rather such space was the mechanism for the development of a literary-technical culture that was foundational to the poetic realism of the era. Indeed, the fictive representation of the railway marked a further “coming to terms” with the always problematic constellation of humans, our technologies, and the natural world that surrounds us.
Of Women and Polyglots: Yoko Tawada’s “Where Europe Begins” and Rosi Braidotti’s Transnational Feminist Nomadology
Yoko Tawada’s “Where Europe Begins” explores identity formation and boundary crossings through the depiction of international travel, feminine subjectivity, and multilingual play. The story thus intimates the core issues that Rosi Braidotti later describes as elements of a “nomadic aesthetic,” an aesthetic particularly suited for describing subjectivity in the European Union as a semi-permeable post-national space. This article explores to what extent Rosi Braidotti’s recent theories, which take into account both the development of the European Union and new surges of international migration, complement and are in an implicit dialogue with contemporary European migrant literature.
English-language translation of the third chapter of Deniz Utlu's Die Ungehaltenen.
English language translation of the essay "Wenn ich einst tot" by German-language poet José F.A. Oliver
Preface to "The Future of the Past."
Introduction to guest edited special content section dedicated to Professor Anton Kaes.
One of the main problems in many conversations about race, class, and privilege today is not too much distance, but rather too little. Or to be more precise, too little recognition of the importance distance plays in our interactions with one another. One manifestation of this phenomenon is mistaking empathy for shared experience. This notion that one can truly know someone else’s experience, that complete knowledge and identification is the goal, makes it too easy to assume that one’s own experience can be applied to everyone else’s. An even more insidious manifestation of too little distance is the belief that distance means a failure to understand and that if the gap cannot be closed, one should give up. In other words finding another’s experiences and subject position too other, too foreign, and therefore illegible. Accepting distance as an integral part of understanding other experiences, acknowledging that one can never achieve a full and complete understanding is not the end of the conversation, nor is it an invitation to abandon the attempt. Instead it is the starting point and a call for continual engagement, for constant and ever-changing interactions that create connections and bridges between people without having complete identification as the goal. An exploration of this relationship, and in particular how it shapes our subject identity positions at the intersections of academia, ethnicity, and power, is the focus of this essay.
Between Victim and Perpetrator Imaginary: The Implicated Subject in Works by Rachel Seiffert and Cate Shortland
The future of Germany’s murderous past is now being reconsidered by a new generation of artists who have to navigate an increasing distance to the Third Reich and its remaining witnesses. Thus it is not surprising that recent postmemory work registers shifts, both with respect to mnemonic perspective and representational strategy. This article considers “Lore,” a story published in the trilogy The Dark Room (2001) by the British-German author Rachel Seiffert, and its cinematic adaptation by the Australian filmmaker Cate Shortland (2012) as two examples of such shifts. The mnemonic perspective of both works offers a productive tension. On the one hand they present the emotionally charged perspective of children of Nazi perpetrators, yet on the other hand they employ representational modes that are bare, impassive and minimalist. What are we to make of material that invites identification with protagonists born into a perpetrator legacy, particularly when these historical witnesses are aesthetically reconceived as ‘innocent children’? Seiffert’s and Shortland’s reconfiguration of the historical witness raises the question of whether the victim/perpetrator imaginary can be a constructive lens through which to understand historical agency and its legacies across multiple generations. This article argues that recent re-conceptualizations of historical subject positions, such as the ‘implicated subject’ (Michael Rothberg), offer a more nuanced exploration of historical agency. In different ways and to different degrees, both Seiffert’s and Shortland’s work engage with contradictions of historical subject positions by probing and acknowledging inadvertent, yet persistent, implications in legacies of historical violence.
Generation Mini-Series: Contemporary German Historical Event-Television and the Implications of its Interactive Elements
The controversial 2012 ZDF mini-series Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter/Generation War epitomizes German “historical event television,” a broadcasting trend aligned with the recent tendency to normalize the nation’s relationship with its past. Reaching beyond the borders of the narrative drama, the series’ producers created and promoted collateral content encouraging viewers to interact with the fictional characters and other audience members in such new media platforms as Facebook, a public archive on YouTube, and an app downloaded from iTunes. Digital interfaces allow viewers to learn about and relate to history in multi-faceted and self-directed ways, but they also reinforce the dominance of an immersive aesthetic of emotional affect, strong character identification and retrospective narrative cohesion. The imbrication of publicity for the mini-series with the Gedächtnis der Nation crowd-sourced YouTube video archive signals the emergence of a uniquely German convergence culture centered on the mediation of memory. Memory culture has long been embedded in Germany’s media institutions, and the newest of media are now integrated into Germany’s national memory project. Multiple layers of co-sponsorship of the project by representatives from the realms of new media, television, publishing, government, education, the automotive industry, and non-profit foundations, as well as private donors, blur the lines between collective memory and private memories and public knowledge and private intellectual and creative property. This essay explores the question of whether this new landscape of digital memory culture forecloses critical engagement with the German past and limits the diversity of avenues and aesthetics whereby narratives about the past are transmitted to audiences, present and future.
This article discusses the magazine Der Dada No. 1, published in 1919 by Raoul Hausmann and Johannes Baader, arguing that a central concern throughout the issue is the future and its manifest uncertainty. Der Dada No. 1 presents us with a historically specific way of thinking about futurity as such, a relationship to the future that exploits its inherent uncertainty for financial gain. Most crucially, Hausmann and Baader reveal how this speculative stance extends beyond the financial realm, ultimately encompassing all facets of the future, so that the most any individual can hope for is not to change the course of history, but merely to game the system. While hyperinflation was still a few years off when Der Dada No. 1 appeared in June 1919, inflationary rumblings had already begun, and Hausmann and Baader aptly assessed their implications. What they portray in Der Dada No. 1 is an attitude towards the future defined by speculation and uncertainty; a background against which Dada is proffered, ironically, as the only reliable investment.
The following paper explores the relationship between Josef von Sternberg’s 1930 film The Blue Angel and Edward Dmytryk’s 1959 remake to consider what happens when an “original” film is repurposed to address another socio-historical time period, and cultural and national setting. The similarity and, more interestingly, the differences between the remake and its original and the engagement of the historical moments, from which these films emerge, reveal different directorial styles, technological developments, aesthetic choices, cultural practices, performances of gender, and narrative resolutions. Based on the hallmarks of a remake, and on Thomas Leitch’s premise that remakes subscribe to a process of “disavowal” and want “to be just like their model only better,” I question what has been made better in the Hollywood remake set in 1956 Germany. The Blue Angel remake notably subdues the tension between desire and prescriptive social norms and diverges from von Sternberg’s devastating drama of seduction. In striking contrast to Professor Rath’s fatal decline at the twilight of the Weimar Republic, the 1959 version reasserts masculine authority and offers a model of benevolent and fraternal masculinity. In doing so, I argue that Dmytryk rehabilitates the image of Germany, and in contrast to many Hollywood films made during the 1940s, in which many German émigrés played Nazis, he offers an alternate acoustic landscape for a German-accented English. Produced and set during the Cold War, Dmytryk reframes and redresses the image of Germany just when the Federal Republic begins to serve as a crucial political ally.
While in Frankfurt a few weeks ago, I visited the site of the Dom/Römer project, a series of 35 buildings that are under construction in the historical center of Frankfurt am Main. While most of the buildings are going to be modern interpretations of the houses that once stood on the small parcels in Frankfurt’s city center, fifteen of the buildings will be historical reconstructions of historical buildings. As I approached the building site, I walked along a fence that had been covered with a vinyl picture of an artist’s rendition of the finished project. Scrawled across the picture was a graffito: “Bitte richtig alt. Kein Zombie!” The term “zombie” has been a battle cry for anti-reconstructionists from all over Germany as they watch historical reconstruction projects fill the empty spaces in their destroyed historical city centers. In this paper, I will investigate the current discourse that has conflated architecture with necromancy in German city planning. Are these reconstructions the signs of a crisis in Modernism, a sweeping wave of uncritical nostalgia, or dangerous returns to evil ideologies of the past? Using Walter Benjamin’s Kunstwerk essay, I will explore the role of historical reconstruction as medial architecture, buildings that function more like film than the so-called “authentic” architecture that is preferred by the current generation of Denkmalpfleger. What happens when a destroyed Bauwerk reaches the age of its technological reproducibility? These “zombie” buildings, I will argue, reveal mythical underpinnings in the projects of Modernism and the religious practices inherent in the concept of authenticity historical monuments.
In 2016, Black German Studies celebrates the 30th anniversary of the publication of Farbe bekennen: Afrodeutsche Frauen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte. The result of the encounter of Black German women in Berlin with Afro-Caribbean American activist-poet Audre Lorde in the mid-1980s, this text testifies to the power of transnational collaboration in the assertion of Black agency, as well as to the influence of American feminist and civil rights discourses in the West German context. The truth that the women around Audre Lorde uncovered and voiced about the history of the African diaspora in Germany remain central to Black German Studies today: namely, the acknowledgement that there is no single originary moment for Black Germans, but rather multiple, historically diverse points of origin. Michelle M. Wright’s recent work on what she terms a “Post-War Epistemology” offers Black Diaspora Studies an alternative approach to that of the Middle Passage Epistemology, a narrative focused around the Atlantic slave trade. In the context of reunification and the current migrant crisis, Wright’s paradigm provides a narrative framework that is particularly well-suited to the situation of Black German Studies as it enters its fourth decade.
In this article, the author argues that the field of German Studies is poised to contribute to both Black Studies and Critical Race Studies through teaching the history of the African diaspora in Europe in the pre-modern era. One promising future direction German Studies might pursue thus leads to an examination of the distant past. Such a shift in focus would also profit Black Studies by extending the time frame of the African diasporic narrative backward into a past that preceded both the breach of the Middle Passage and the dawn of scientific racism. In this time preceding European overseas colonization, phenotypical differences between groups and individuals were observed, but racism as we know it today did not exist. Teaching this material thus offers students a useful alternative model of difference. A contextualization of the Roman Empire within the history of the great Mediterranean empires shows that most of these spanned the African-European continental divide, and that the trajectory of military incursions, enslavement, travel, wealth, and power moved in both directions, from north to south and from south to north. An examination of medieval texts, including Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzifal and the statue of the African St. Maurice in the Magdeburg cathedral, shows that blackness signified difference as distance on the horizontal plane of the world map, not as a chromatic marker of location on a vertical scale of hierarchy and power. If “overcoming racism” today is going to mean more than just adjusting existing stereotypes, then the pre-modern past may offer us a useful model.
Ernst Lubitsch epitomized the transnationalism of the cinema in the 1920s as the first German director to come to Hollywood and one who brought over a number of German film artists to Hollywood over the course of the decade. In America he followed developments in German cinema in terms of technical innovations and popular genres, and he published in the German film press. The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg was meant to compete with similar silent operetta films being made in Germany, and making the film, Lubitsch had the chance to return to Germany for the first time since 1922. The film was transnational not only because of its connection to the movements of artists, technicians, ideas, styles, and genres back and forth across the Atlantic, but also for the ethnic, gender, and sexual politics of the film and its production itself: e.g., the “migration background” not just of Lubitsch but also of the film’s male star, Ramón Novarro.
From Colonial to Neoliberal Times: German Agents of Tourism Development and Business in Diani, Kenya
This essay traces the role of Germans in various economic developments on the Kenyan coast over the past fifty years, focusing on one of Kenya’s most prominent tourism resort areas of Kenya, the Diani area located south of Mombasa. When tourism development began in earnest in the 1960s, German, Swiss, and Austrian entrepreneurs played a crucial role in pioneering the kind of enterprises that became the hallmark of coastal tourism—upscale hotels, restaurants, bars, discotheques, safari businesses, and diving schools. Reviewing the developments in Diani provides insight into neoliberal transnational economic transactions that presently occur in many areas of the world. Germans take part in these developments not only as representatives of large corporations or agents of state-funded development aid, but also as individual entrepreneurs. The discussion first sketches the setting in which these interactions take place, and then reviews the stages and various dimensions of German economic activities in Diani, namely developments in the area of tourism, small businesses, and real estate. The concluding section considers the effects of the German activities with regard to local culture and landownership, as examples of current global neoliberal developments. Acknowledging the impact of individuals investors, managers, and entrepreneurs through this case study of German activities in Kenya sheds light on lesser-known dimensions of globalization, dimensions that include an increasing north-to-south migration and new forms of cross-cultural hierarchies and collaborations.
Reflections on (a) Changing Europe