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Diefenbaker Talk: "'Herkunft', 'Heimat', and Migration in Contemporary German Literature, and Film"

Thursday, February 27, 2020
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Kingston Hall
Room: 209
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Dr. Werner Nell

Diefenbaker Professor at Queen’s 2019/2020

"'Herkunft', 'Heimat', and Migration in Contemporary German Literature, and Film"

Looking back on the German political and cultural discourses for the first half of the 20th century, the concept of “Heimat” had mostly been used as an instrument, if not a weapon, to mark the difference between those who “rightfully” belonged to German society and those whose rights appeared to be contested. While this ideological use of “Heimat” peaked during Nazi-time, the concept was obviously less prominent in the years after 1945. At the time, it was blurred by revisionist intentions or criticized as referring to the “Dictionary of the Barbarian” (= “Wörterbuch des Unmenschen”, 1957).  Within the upcoming ecological and regional movements since the late 1970s and moreover during the 1980s and 1990s, the concept however found new resonance, now being discussed and also challenged with the changing conditions of Germany becoming a migration society. Since then, and especially as migration and the integration of refugees have become a major issue of political and cultural debates in Germany since 2015, the discussion of “Heimat” has gained new attention and also has inspired works of art from people with migrant backgrounds.

The talk will give a short overview about conditions and developments and in more detail focus on some current texts, film sequences and debates on “Heimat” in contemporary Germany.   

Margaret Maliszewska
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