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Approaching Transnational America in Performance

Edited By Birgit M. Bauridl and Pia Wiegmink

The volume is uniquely located at the interdisciplinary crossroads of Performance Studies and transnational American Studies. As both a method and an object of study, performance deepens our understanding of transnational phenomena and America’s position in the world. The thirteen original contributions make use of the field’s vast potential and critically explore a wide array of cultural, political, social, and aesthetic performances on and off the stage. They scrutinize transnational trajectories and address issues central to the American Studies agenda such as representation, power, (ethnic and gender) identities, social mobility, and national imaginaries. As an American Studies endeavor, the volume highlights the cultural, political, and (inter)disciplinary implications of performance.

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“‘Little America’ Welcomes You”: Transnational Tacit Performance at the Grafenwoehr German-American Volksfest (Birgit M. Bauridl)

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Birgit M. Bauridl

“‘Little America’ Welcomes You”: Transnational Tacit Performance at the Grafenwoehr German-American Volksfest

Abstract: This essay pursues Bauridl/Wiegmink’s call for transnational American Studies to focus on cultural performances in contact zones. It scrutinizes the Grafenwoehr German-American Volksfest as a site-specific cultural performance that makes present and produces tacit embodied knowledge about the cultures at the transnational crossroads.

Introduction

“It’s that time of the year again: Just like last year, ‘Little America’ welcomes you again this year,” the Bavarian Times writes on 10 July 2016 and announces: “U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria invites all citizens to celebrate at the German-American Volksfest on Grafenwoehr Training Area” (Gradl).1 The area the Bavarian Times refers to is the region surrounding the town of Grafenwoehr in the Upper Palatinate, Bavaria, Germany. This area has been shaped by multiple political, cultural, and national (re)appropriations, extensions, and presences which range from its foundation as a military training ground by the Bavarian Army in 1910; to its use by Hitler’s Wehrmacht; to the arrival of American troops in 1945, the liberation of the region from the reign of Nazi terror, and the handing over of the military area to the U.S. Army; to its present-day definition as a U.S. Army base and the internationally used military space of the Grafenwoehr Training Area (GTA) / 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Commands (JMTC). Every year in early August, the German-American Volksfest2 takes place at the...

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