Hypersexuality and Headscarves: Race, Sex, and Citizenship in the New Germany

Hypersexuality and Headscarves: Race, Sex, and Citizenship in the New Germany

Hypersexuality and Headscarves: Race, Sex, and Citizenship in the New Germany

Hypersexuality and Headscarves: Race, Sex, and Citizenship in the New Germany

Synopsis

In this compelling study, Damani J. Partridge explores citizenship and exclusion in Germany since the fall of the Berlin Wall. That event seemed to usher in a new era of universal freedom, but post-reunification transformations of German society have in fact produced noncitizens: non-white and "foreign" Germans who are simultaneously portrayed as part of the nation and excluded from full citizenship. Partridge considers the situation of Vietnamese guest workers "left behind" in the former East Germany; images of hypersexualized black bodies reproduced in popular culture and intimate relationships; and debates about the use of the headscarf by Muslim students and teachers. In these and other cases, which regularly provoke violence against those perceived to be different, he shows that German national and European projects are complicit in the production of distinctly European noncitizens.

Excerpt

In 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall seemed to symbolize the ushering in of a new era that would forthrightly introduce universalized bodies to “freedom.” the fact that so many people were “freely” dancing on the Wall apparently proved that human desire had willed this end. But this new freedom and the expectations that accompanied it also produced “noncitizens,” not only stateless people or war survivors who attempted to enter Europe’s borders, but also those who experienced the celebration and the fall firsthand, for whom this end meant an immediate loss of any certain claim to belonging.

At the center of a global political and economic shift, the fall of the Wall and the push toward East and West Germany’s unification emphasized “Germany for the Germans,” East Germans “not being treated like niggers any more,” more stringent regulation of the borders for those non-Europeans and non-Germans who were not already permanent residents, and the fulfillment of the right to consume. These occurrences together produced the conditions under which new incorporations of noncitizens (understood to include all those not seen as German) would be exceptional and conditional, and often rely on informal regulations and individual discretion. the regulation of citizenship and the production of noncitizens would be attached to both formal and everyday invocations of national sovereignty.

The “noncitizen” is the central figure in this book.

The state does not care for her or his body like it cares for the citizen’s, as can be seen in policies and the everyday realities of noncitizens’ health, education, policing, housing, and employment. in Germany, for example, there is a nearly 50 percent unemployment rate among young Turkish/Turkish Germans. One-third of the people in prison are Turkish or are the children of Turkish immigrants.

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