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Reflections on (a) Changing Europe

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Europe’s Displacements: Kurt Tucholsky’s Satirical Essays “Identification” and “The Border”

A scholarly introduction to new English translations of Kurt Tucholsky's "Der Ausweis" and "Die Grenze."


New English translation of Kurt Tucholsky's 1920 essay, "Der Ausweis."

The Border

New English translation of Kurt Tucholsky's 1920 essay, "Die Grenze."

Stefan Zweig's Fear of Postcolonialism

On July 1, 1909 in a professed act of patriotism to his Indian motherland, Madar Lal Dhingra, a nationalist revolutionary studying in England, assassinated Sir William Curzon Wyllie, political aide-de-camp to the Secretary of State of India. Twelve days later, Stefan Zweig responded to this event in the Viennese newspaper, Neue Freie Presse, in an essay titled, “Die indische Gefahr für England” (“The Indian Threat to England”).  As with much of Stefan Zweig’s published works with political undertones, his public response is less an overt political statement—less a disapproval or sanction of Dhingra’s act—than a quest to understand it: its motivations and ramifications. For a young Zweig developing his commitment to a postnational, Paneuropean ideal, the end of Empire was troublesome for it delineated foremost the fracturing of Europe along nationalist lines.

How Does Arriving Feel? Modulating a Cinematic Sense of Commonality

The essay begins by identifying basic problems in current research on so-called “Turkish-German cinema.” It argues that current research is dominated by a representational understanding of the cinematic image which produces false conclusions regarding the relation between cinematic images and social reality, and that “Turkish-German cinema” has primarily been treated as a separate genre without due problematizing or concrete grounding in theory. Proceeding from this diagnosis, the essay develops a conceptual perspective which aims at theoretically realigning the relation between migration discourses and audiovisual media production. This project works along two lines: the methodological line aims at closely analyzing cinematic form with regard to its expressive dimension, while the theoretical line understands cinematic images as appropriations of globally circulating forms and patterns. This dimension of audiovisual discursivity has to be reconstructed analytically before films can be read as negotiations of cultural identity. These methodological and theoretical considerations are applied through the close analysis of the film Almanya – Welcome to Germany.

Celestial Desires and Earthly Migrations: Love, Poetry and Agency in Özdamar’s Seltsame Sterne starren zur Erde

Previous scholarship on the final installment in Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s Istanbul-Berlin trilogy has issued largely along two trajectories, pursuing questions of migration and transnationalism on the one hand and German memory politics on the other. What has been overlooked in the process is the text’s unique interplay of genres, voices, and spatial metaphors that turns the more traditional thematics of migration into a metaphorics of migration. This article argues that Özdamar’s novel represents migration neither as social question nor as existential dilemma, but rather as a grand metaphor for desire, and argues for a reading of Seltsame Sterne not as a migration story but as a love story. The narrative coalesces around the pursuit of an extravagant imagining of love in which the multiple valences of love become, through their very repetition, a guiding textual metaphor that both contains and exceeds the boundaries of personal emotions and experiences. This radical reframing of migration and exile through the prism of love and desire points toward an articulation of human experience more broadly—a provocation that constitutes nothing less than a reclamation of political subjectivity for those marked by explicit migration experiences. With the powerful assertion of self-presence provided by the intimacy of the diary form, the text stakes its claim to a place in the middle of the cultural, linguistic, and geographic lifeworld within which its author/narrator situates herself. Staging her autobiographical narrating subject as author of her own diaristic notes, living a life between and among the texts that surround her, Özdamar claims her own place as completely imbricated within the world of European letters. Ultimately, this twin presentation of cultural creation both as a narrative theme and as object asserts a uniquely re-situated “German” writing subject.

Unbeholden New German Literature

An interview with Deniz Utlu in English translation.

Who Said Heimat? I'm Only Renting: Introduction

Scholarly introduction to the cooperative project "Who Said Heimat? I'm Only Renting" with Selim Özdoğan.