This course addresses questions of mobility and borders in our increasingly connected and disjointed world. We will approach the history of post-World War II Germany through the lens of migration, reading a variety of texts critically and relating them to broader questions of economic and cultural globalization: the long term consequences of “guest worker” recruitment; the challenges of asylum for refugees vis-à-vis xenophobia and racism; the limits of citizenship and national identity; the struggles for common ground in education and collective memory; the predicament of religion and secularism; multilingualism and diversity in institutions; (re)presentation and performance in literature, audiovisual media and popular culture. Students will learn to analyze current debates over social cohesion, integration and disintegration within a broader comparative and historical framework. Events such as the German reunification, the rise of the European Union and the expansion of the Schengen Area, as well as recent economic and humanitarian crises will factor into our analysis. In light of the proclaimed failure of multiculturalism, we will discuss cosmopolitanism and human rights as models of thought that transcend state nationalism or multiculturalism, but are often difficult to implement and regulate in practice. A major emphasis in our course will be on the possibilities of artistic engagements with these social and political concerns.
Multimedia material from online news sources, television, popular music, films, and fiction will complement our readings and discussions. YouTube and other online platforms will serve as a valuable if informal and often ephemeral archive. Through the course, students will become participants in a research team as they gather and analyze new materials for the blog on Multicultural Germany Project (MGP).
The course is taught in English. Most readings are also available in German.