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Asian Fusion

New Encounters in the Asian-German Avant-Garde


Caroline Rupprecht

This book contributes to a historically evolving conversation about immigration as a facet of globalization in the European context. Focusing on literary and artistic works from the post–World War II era, the author uses a «call-and-response» structure – as in African-American slave songs, Indian kirtans, and Jewish liturgy – to create a series of dialogues between Asian-German authors, including Yoko Tawada, Pham Thi Hoài, and Anna Kim, and an earlier generation of German-speaking authors and artists whose works engaged with «Asia,» including W. G. Sebald, Peter Weiss, and Joseph Beuys.

Considering the recent successes of the New Right, which have brought about a regression to Nazi anti-Semitic discourses grounded in the equation between Jews and «Orientals,» the author advocates a need for solidarity between Germans and Asian-Germans. Using «fusion» as a metaphor, she revises the critical paradigms of Orientalism and postcolonial studies to show how, in the aftermath of the twelve-year Nazi dictatorship, Germany has successfully transformed itself into a country of immigration – in part due to the new and pioneering Asian-German voices that have reshaped the German-speaking cultural landscape and that are now, for the first time, featured as coming together in this book.

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A version of Chapter 1 is published as “Architecture and Desire in W. G. Sebald’s Holocaust Novel Austerlitz,” Le Comparatisme comme approche critique / Comparative Literature as Critical Approach 3, edited by Anne Tomiche (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2017), 135–44. A version of Chapter 2 is published as “Haunted Spaces: History and Architecture in Yoko Tawada,” South Central Review 33/3 (Fall 2016), 111–26. And a version of Chapter 4 is published as “Übersetzung als Begegnung: Pham Thi Hoàis ‘Fünf Tage,’ ” Publikationen der Internationalen Vereinigung für Germanistik (IVG): Akten des XIII. Internationalen Germanistenkongresses Shanghai 2015 7, edited by Jianhua Zhu, Jin Zhao and Michael Szurawitzki (Bern: Peter Lang, 2017), 188–93.

My thanks go to Jörn Etzold and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft for inviting me to the Institut für Theaterwissenschaft in Giessen, Germany; Gary Wilder, Susan Buck-Morss, and David Joselit from the Committee for Globalization and Social Change for the Mellon Fellowship; Bettina Brandt, Joanne Myang Cho, Doug McGetchin, Neil Pages, Daniel Purdy, Lee Roberts, Qinna Shen, Christian Spang, Veronika Tuckerova, Chunjie Zhang and all other panelists and seminar participants at the German Studies Association and American Comparative Literature Association conferences for feedback along the way; Melanie Locay of the New York Public Library for the opportunity to conduct research at the Wertheim Study; Carola Hilmes at Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main for her ongoing advice; and the author Thomas Lang in Munich for his creative writing suggestions.

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