Transatlantic Experiences and Perspectives of Black Germans of the Post-War Generation
Edited By Marion Kraft
Searching for Traces: Discontinuity and Identity in African American-German Autobiographies (Marion Kraft)
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Searching for Traces: Discontinuity and Identity in African American-German Autobiographies
51. Marion Kraft. Private property.
In recent decades, a growing number of Black Germans have gone from being the objects to the subjects of different research, claiming interpretational ← 283 | 284 → sovereignty over their lives in varied academic fields, in life writing and in literary texts. In autobiographies of the post-World War II generation, the experience of racism and uprootedness, and the search for one’s family history play an important role in the formation of individual and social identity. This search often includes acceptance of a bi-ethnic and bi-national heritage, but, in many cases, it is based on a culturally homogenous socialization. In both cases, the autobiographical text can be intended as a personal account, as a historical narrative or a classic memoir. Narrative strategies used to account for the validity of the autobiographical text as a historic document are influenced by the lens through which the author views his or her life, and by his or her intentions and expectations regarding the audience he or she has in mind. In this essay, I want to exemplify this with a discussion of four Black German African American autobiographies,1 considering their commonalities and differences based on the social and political realities of German and U.S. American relations in the post-World War II era. These different and yet entangled stories reflect how gender, “race,” social class and nation...
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