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Identity in Postmillennial German Films on Africa

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Shikuku Emmanuel Tsikhungu

This book is a literary and cultural investigation of the different levels of identity as revealed in German films on and about Africa. Taking sexual, spatial, linguistic and body identities as its core concern, the book elucidates how the contemporary German film narratives on Africa binarize bordeline cultural and geographical identities. While this binarism assigns the metropolitan status to the German, the African is relegated to the margins in the human socio-geocultural aspects. The book contradicts this kind of binary narration as it argues that trans-border identities are fraught with complexities that cannot be simply straitjacketed. It celebrates those moments where the narratives challenge the existing boundaries at the interstice between the North and the South. It further celebrates the moments where the film narratives recognize the complexity of cultures by acknowledging the disruptiveness and continuities of linguistic, cultural, sexual, spatial and body identities especially at the contact zone of Germany and Africa.
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5.0 Identity and the Representation of Bodies

Extract

If you wish to know who I am, if you wish me to teach youwhat I know, cease for the while to be what you are andforget what you know.1

This chapter interrogates reiterative performed acts of constituting characters as subjects within the language and ideologies in the German and African locations using the films selected as a microcosm. I look at the ways in which, in defining their own sense of identity, individuals tend also to fix the identity of others working within long established binary modes of thinking. I also interrogate the presences and/or absences of the colonial tropes and imperial imagination that are restaged from the historical negative representations of Africans as has been discussed in chapter four of this book. Lastly, I look at some of the counterdiscourses in the representation of bodies that are inherent in the films.

In chapter two of this book, I have noted that within the German films on Africa there is a recurrent structural aspect of flight which spurs the German to leave Europe. Within the postmillennial corpus of German films, German filmmakers give different German characters different conditions that compel their urge to fly off to African spaces. Some are restless and suffering from fernweh like Margareta von Trappe in Momella and Hans Merensky in Der weisse Afrikaner, others are in search of wealth like Albrecht Sterenberg in Der weisse Afrikaner, Katharina Coburn in Kein Himmel über Afrika and Carl Houwer in Eine Liebe in...

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