The voice of “the outside” in narratives of migration in contemporary German-language migrant literature

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperCommunication

Migration does not only change the ethnic composition of national populations but also affects societies’ cultural memories by transferring “distant” historical legacies, memories and traumas into new social constellations and political contexts (Assmann/Conrad 2010). Fundamentally, cultural memory is constructed by defining a common “We” that is distinct from an “Other” that not shares the same (cultural) memories. However, according to Rothberg (2009, 2014), new memories don’t eliminate existing ones but rather bring “disparate histories into contact which each other.” Nevertheless, this “contact” needs to be facilitated by forms of communication that makes these memories accessible for a broader public. Put otherwise, the “outside” needs a voice in order to be included in the public discourse. By investigating literary writings by or about migrants, this paper investigates how the foreign voice is staged in German-language migrant-literature. I will do so by comparing how memories of the “other” are staged in Olga Grjasnowa’s novel Der Russe ist einer der Birken liebt (The Russian is one who loves birch trees, 2012) and Jenny Erpenbeck’s novel Gehen, ging, gegangen (Gone went something 2016), in which a German narrator gives voice to the otherwise silent group of refugees who entered Germany during the migrant crisis in 2015.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventMemory Studies Association Third Annual Conference - Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Duration: 25 Jun 201928 Jun 2019
Conference number: 3


ConferenceMemory Studies Association Third Annual Conference
LocationUniversidad Complutense de Madrid
Internet address

ID: 226070395