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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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Chapter 6 Shamanic Spaces: Anna Kim’s Anatomie einer Nacht and Die grosse Heimkehr


Life in Copenhagen: stares turned into gestures, a slap on the arm, a kick in the butt: dirty Eskimo.

— Kim, Anatomie einer Nacht

In my solitude

You taunt me

With memories

That never die.

— Billie Holiday, quoted by Kim in Die grosse Heimkehr

This last chapter “responds” to the works on Eurasia by artist Joseph Beuys, discussed in the previous chapter, by introducing a new European literary discovery, Asian-German author Anna Kim (b. 1977). Born in Korea, Kim was two when her family moved to Vienna, Austria, where her father was a diplomat; she now resides in Berlin, Germany. In contrast to Beuys’s self-invented shamanism, which as I have argued was based on mystifications of Siberia and Eurasia that linked Asian and Nordic mythologies and evoked Nazi iconography, I here show Kim as introducing Korean and Siberian shamanism from a more informed, less grandiose, perspective. Her writings are based on research and fieldwork about the Inuit and Korean cultures, and her approach to fiction is what one might call journalistic.

At the same time, Kim’s approach incorporates her own subject position as a Korean-German. Writing about what it is like to be “othered” by European society, Kim, in her 2015 volume of essays, Der sichtbare Feind: Die Gewalt des Öffentlichen und das Recht auf Privatheit [The Visible Enemy: The Violence of the Public and the Right to Privacy], begins by describing how ←183 | 184...

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