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Religion and Identity in Germany Today

Doubters, Believers, Seekers in Literature and Film


Edited By Julian Ernest Preece, Frank Finlay and Sinéad Crowe

In German-speaking Europe, as in other parts of the western world, questions of religious identity have been discussed with sudden urgency since the attacks of ‘9/11’. Nowhere was this clearer than in the heated controversy over the building of a mosque in the city of Cologne, which is the subject of Michael Hofmann’s contribution to this volume. Turkish Germans have also found themselves defined by the religious background of their parents. For different reasons German Jews have faced pressure to reconnect with a religion that their forbears cast off sometimes more than a century ago. At the same time religious belief among the nominally Christian majority has been in retreat. These changes have generated poetry, drama, and fiction as well as a number of films by both well-known and emerging authors and filmmakers. Their works sometimes reflect but more often challenge debates taking place in politics and the media. The essays in this volume explore a range of genres which engage with religion in contemporary Germany and Austria. They show that literature and film express nuances of feeling and attitude that are eclipsed in other, more immediately influential discourses. Discussion of these works is thus essential for an understanding of the role of religion in forming identity in contemporary multicultural German-speaking societies. This volume contains eight chapters in English and six in German.


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FRAUKE MATTHES - ‘Authentic’ Muslim Voices? Feridun Zaimoğlu’s Schwarze Jungfrauen 199


FRAUKE MATTHES ‘Authentic’ Muslim Voices? Feridun Zaimoğlu’s Schwarze Jungfrauen Feridun Zaimoğlu has been one of the most successful German-language writ- ers of the last decade. With the publication of his Kanak Sprak: 24 Mißtöne vom Rande der Gesellschaft and Koppstoff: Kanaka Sprak vom Rande der Gesellschaft in the mid-1990s he gained the reputation of a radical, though not particularly prolific writer.1 Recently, however, Zaimoğlu’s writing has taken a different turn which has secured him overwhelming success: his novels Leyla and Liebesbrand have marked his ‘arrival’ in the literary mainstream.2 Part of his development into a commercially more successful writer derives from his interest in religion, Islam in particular, which was only subtly notice- able in most of his previous work and which is now prominent.3 This may have two reasons: first, the Islamic fundamentalist suicide attacks on Western cities and institutions on 11 September 2001 (‘9/11’) and 7 July 2005 (‘7/7’) and the Madrid train bombings on 11 March 2004 have compelled Muslim minorities in North America and Europe to reflect on their religion in a more defensive way than ever before. Muslims have become Muslims under the Western gaze.4 Their stigmatisation as ‘Muslim’, that is, as an unknown 1 Feridun Zaimoğlu, Kanak Sprak: 24 Mißtöne vom Rande der Gesellschaft (Hamburg: Rotbuch, 1995); Koppstoff: Kanaka Sprak vom Rande der Gesellschaft (Hamburg: Rotbuch, 1998). 2 Feridun Zaimoğlu, Leyla (Cologne: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2006); Liebesbrand (Cologne: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2008). 3 An apparent exception would...

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