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Title: Multilingual practices and transnational alliances : German-language texts of post-Yugoslav migration
Author: Nowicz, Iga Marta
ISNI:       0000 0004 7970 1060
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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My thesis argues that German-language texts of post-Yugoslav migration expand our understanding of what constitutes German-language literature today, since they cannot be contained by scholarly paradigms rooted in notions of distinct national literatures and require a comparative and multilingual critical approach. In order to illustrate this, the thesis examines prose texts by Peter Handke, Saša Stanišić, Marica Bodrožić, and Alma Hadžibeganović. Employing literary multilingualism as a self-conscious textual strategy, the texts trouble the notion of a stable ethnic/cultural identity and critique the discourse of racial purity and normative monolingualism, both of which figured prominently in pro-war propaganda in the former Yugoslavia and today are central to the nationalist rhetoric employed by certain German and Austrian politicians. The texts reveal the interrelatedness of nationalism and patriarchy and, in a radical post-colonial gesture, invite the reader to critically examine patriarchal structures in post-Yugoslav as well as Western European societies. My point of departure in methodological terms is Leslie A. Adelson's groundbreaking study The Turkish Turn in Contemporary German Literature (2005), in which Adelson distances herself from extant scholarship and demonstrates the vital contribution of Turkish-German writers to German literature after unification. Texts of Turkish migration, Adelson argues, transform the German national archive and participate in a re-negotiation of national identity in post-1990 Germany. I extend Adelson's concept of Turkish Turn to examine recent literary voices of authors with a Yugoslav background, whom I situate within the German intellectual debate concerned with the Yugoslav conflict. At the same time, I put these texts in an international context, considering how they relate to Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav writing as well as other languages and literatures. Combining approaches derived from theories of multilingualism and gender theory, I also engage with theoretical debates on the so-called 'Eastern Turn' in German literature. The collapse of Yugoslavia was a watershed moment in recent European history, which led to a violent partition of the country and resulted in high numbers of people fleeing the conflict to Western Europe, including Austria and Germany. German-language commentators were from the start heavily involved in the discourse surrounding the conflict between various Yugoslav ethnicities. The debate was not free from an Orientalizing bias. A discussion of rhetorical strategies used by leading commentators and an introduction to Maria Todorova's theory of Balkanism provide the intellectual context for my analysis of literary works responding to the wars. I start by looking at Peter Handke's travelogues from the 1990s, which have received sustained scholarly attention in Germany and abroad. Contrasting Handke's essays with later works by Stanišić, Bodrožić, and Hadžibeganović, I explore the potential of linguistically heterogeneous texts to undermine essentialist understandings of ethnic, national, and cultural identity. I draw attention to power structures rooted in language which, in my opinion, can be subverted by non-idiomatic usage, linguistic errors, code-switching, interlingual mixing, literal translation, interferences, referential indeterminacy, and a strategic deployment of non-sense. Crucially, I combine my text analysis with a feminist response to the texts. I highlight the works' engagement with gender, sexuality, and discrimination, and examine how they address the traumas suffered by diverse subjects in patriarchal society, and resist the violent erasure of such experiences from dominant narratives.
Supervisor: McMurtry, Aine Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available