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New Germans, New Dutch

New Germans, New Dutch: Literary Interventions

Liesbeth Minnaard
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    New Germans, New Dutch
    Book Description:

    In the globalised world of today, traditional definitions of national Self and national Other no longer hold. The unmistakable transformation of German and Dutch societies demands a thorough rethinking of national boundaries on several levels. This book examines how literature of migration intervenes in public discourses on multiculturality in Germany and the Netherlands, epitomised in the strikingly parallel debates on the 'German Leitkultur' and the Dutch 'multicultural drama' in the year 2000. By juxtaposing detailed analyses of literary work by the Turkish-German writers Emine Sevgi Özdamar and Feridun Zaimoglu and the Moroccan-Dutch writers Abdelkader Benali and Hafid Bouazza, New Germans, New Dutch offers crucial insights into the specific ways in which this literature negotiates its national context of writing. This book demonstrates how German literature of migration seeks alternative forms of community outside the national parameters, whereas the Dutch literature negotiates difference and re-imagines Dutchness within the national framework. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0235-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-6)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 7-8)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 9-12)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 13-14)

    I started a first draft of this manuscript with the statement that ‘migrants’ have more and more become part of German and Dutch societies. In the course of writing this book this statement has become increasingly disputed. In both German and Dutch societies, several dramatic incidents – the murders of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands, and ‘smaller’ instances of specifically gendered violence in Germany – have caused a rapidly growing polarisation between several parts of the German and Dutch populations, in particular between the indigenous majority and the (homogenised) ‘Muslim’ minorities.¹ The global increase of culturally...

  5. I. National Identity The Discursive Production of Germanness and Dutchness
    (pp. 15-50)

    The central concept inNew Germans,New Dutchis that of national identity. For over two centuries scholars and intellectuals in ‘the West’ have been trying to define this concept under a number of headings such as, for instance,Volksgeistorvolksaard, national character, national spirit, national consciousness or national Self (-understanding).¹ Its conceptualisation varied according to the circumstances, or, more precisely, according to its function in a matrix of power and interests. The concept was defined and redefined, appropriated and reappropriated, as were its symbols, its myths, and its (invented) traditions. In ‘The Question of Cultural Identity’ (1993) Stuart...

  6. II. Literature of Migration Aesthetic Interventions in Times of Transformation
    (pp. 51-68)

    A study that is often mentioned when it comes to the role of the imagination in times of global change is Arjun Appadurai’sModernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization(1997). In this study, Appadurai claims the imagination has a key role in contemporary social life: ‘The imagination is now central to all forms of agency, is itself a social fact, and is the key component of the new global order’ (1997: 31). Although Appadurai is not referring to literature as a product of the imagination par excellence here (on the contrary: he focuses on the imagination as part of...

  7. III. Emine Sevgi Özdamar ‘I Didn’t Know that Your Passport Is also Your Diary’
    (pp. 69-106)

    In 1991 Emine Sevgi Özdamar was the first writer of non-German (i.e. Turkish-Kurdish) origin to win the prestigious Ingeborg Bachmann Prize. The award-winning writing – an excerpt from her (later) novelDas Leben ist eine Karawanserei hat zwei Türen aus einer kam ich rein aus der anderen ging ich raus [Life Is a Caravanserai Has Two Doors I Came in One I Went Out the Other](1992) – caused a controversial discussion about the German identity of Özdamar’s literature as well as about the German identity of the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize itself. In her article ‘“German” literature contested: The 1991...

  8. IV. Hafid Bouazza ‘Long Live Uprooting! Long Live the Imagination!’
    (pp. 107-142)

    In 1996 the Dutch cultural press enthusiastically welcomed the literary debut of the young Moroccan-Dutch writer Bouazza: a collection of short prose titledDe voeten van Abdullah[Abdullah’s Feet]. The enthusiasm concerned not only the qualities of the literary work, but hinged at least as much on the writer’s non-Dutch origin. Immediately Bouazza vehemently spoke out against ethnicised groupings and marginalising categorisations in the Dutch cultural field. As Tom Kellerhuis describes this process in a retrospective interview with Bouazza: ‘Partly thanks to the good care of his mother he hadn’t become a fringe group youth, but now to his own...

  9. V. Feridun Zaimoglu ‘Here Only the Kanake Has the Say’
    (pp. 143-178)

    This chapter focuses on a particular part of the literary work by the Turkish-German writer Feridun Zaimoglu, his ‘Kanakwriting’.² This early and, in several respects, provocative work effected Zaimoglu’s public breakthrough and settled his reputation as aKanakrebel, both in literary and non-literary circles. Besides, it (temporarily) conferred to Zaimoglu, in his role as captain of the second and third generation of disenfranchised Turkish-German migrant youth, a more or less heroic (commercial) status as the ‘KanakChe Guevarra’ or as the ‘KanakMalcolm X’.³ The grounds for comparison between Zaimoglu and these popular heroes lies in their shared...

  10. VI. Abdelkader Benali ‘When the World Goes Mad and Everybody Has Lost Their Words’
    (pp. 179-220)

    The career of the Moroccan-Dutch writer Abdelkader Benali seems more than that of any other Dutch writer of migrant background a story of literary success. Benali’s debut novel,Bruiloft aan zee[Wedding by the Sea] (1996), was awarded with the Geertjan Lubberhuizen Prize 1997 for the best debut; it was also nominated for the renowned Libris Literature Prize in 1997.² Although he did not win this last prestigious literary award, the nomination definitely bestowed the author and his novel – that had hardly been noticed and reviewed before its nomination – with a central position in the literary and public...

  11. Conclusion Literary Negotiations of Germanness and Dutchness
    (pp. 221-232)

    Contemporary discourses on multiculturality and migration often revolve around two opposite positions in respect to the contested issue of national identity. On the one side you find the opponents of the concept who plead for a view on the contemporary, globalised world as trans- or even postnational. They argue that as a result of transnational migration the importance of the national as a structuring principle has been substituted by an emphasis on either the local or the global. Transnationalists often perceive of the nation state as an obsolete, out-of-date concept and of national identity as a construct that is losing...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 233-290)
  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 291-318)
  14. Index
    (pp. 319-325)