Academic journal article German Quarterly

Germany in Transit: Nation and Migration 1955-2005

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Germany in Transit: Nation and Migration 1955-2005

Article excerpt

Göktürk, Deniz, David Gramling, and Anton Kaes, eds. Germany in Transit: Nation and Migration 1955-2005. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007. 588 pp. $31.95 paperback.

At first glance, Germany in Transit appears to be a source book with a "rich archive" of 200 texts that address 50 years of migration to Germany, from 1955 to 2005. A closer look, however, reveals that the volume's usefulness far surpasses a mere compilation of documents. Coming from the field of German literary and cultural studies, editors Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, and Anton Kaes include cultural texts from a multitude of perspectives and genres, such as song lyrics, interviews with filmmakers, and autobiographical essays, in addition to legal documents, political manifestos and newspaper editorials, thus revealing the dialectical relationship between social realities and their official representation. The textual resources are organized in ten thematically-organized chapters and presented chronologically within each chapter. Informative introductions contextualize the content of the chapters in terms of the larger intentions of the work, as well as put the texts in dialogue with one another, charting shifting perspectives on and societal developments of religion, citizenship, and globalization against the backdrop of the Cold War and European integration.

The work is further framed by its orientation towards an English-speaking audience. Not only are all texts translated into English, but frequent US-German comparisons highlight the relevance of the work for current immigration struggles in the US. Using the notion of the "American Dream" and the metaphor of the "Melting Pot" as a starting point to consider Germany as a country of immigration, the work is prefaced by a discussion of the migratory and transnational composition of pre-nation Germany, post-war Germany, the FRG and GDR, and reunited Germany. The large TurkishGerman population in Germany has incited many discussions about migration, identity, and citizenship, and though the Turkish-German population features prominently in the book, the editors expand this focus to include other migrant/minority groups including East Germans, Jews, Aussiedler, Poles, Vietnamese, and Thai.

The following two chapters are exemplary of the approaches to Germany and migration within the public and private spheres. Chapter 4, entitled "What is a German? Legislating National Identity," wrestles with the challenges of German citizenship illustrated by 20th-centurylaws, beginning with the 1913 lawthat based citizenship on ethnicity (ius sanguinis) and ending with discussions of the 2000 Citizenship Law, which reformed the naturalization process. …

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