«Über Gegenwartsliteratur Interpretationen und Interventionen Festschrift für Paul Michael Lützeler zum 65. Geburtstag von ehemaligen StudentInnen ...»
28 Leslie A. Adelson pieces than wanting to make things whole again.11 The notion that this bespeaks some type of futurism rather than despair in post-socialist Europe may well seem far-fetched. Jean Améry, who survived torture at the hands of Nazis at a Belgian concentration camp but hardly intact, once characterized the future as “the authentically human dimension”.12 If the matter of human life appears “all in pieces” in Kluge’s “learning processes” and Karpat and Şenocak’s “futurist epilogue”, what is there to learn about a futurism that would not merely lament, repeat, or forget an inhumane past?13 The question as to such a futurism is fundamentally related, I propose, to changing functions of both ethnicity and literature in our time.
Addressing the late twentieth-century “Turkish turn” in German literature, I have argued elsewhere that cultural constellations of ethnos today can be incompatible with discrete and continuous ethnic identities as multiculturalism often conceives them.14 Seyla Benhabib’s critique of what she calls “strong contextualism” and “mosaic multiculturalism” in political theories of membership in contemporary European society reminds us that cultures do not function socially in the age of globalization as “seamless wholes”.15 This is presumably one reason why the conceptual language of a “runaway world”, interactive “networks”, and proliferating “-scapes” circulates with ever more frequency across the disciFor overviews of Hikmet’s biography and analyses of his work, see the anthology edited by Carbe and Riemann in honor of the 100th anniversary of the poet’s birth (see note 6). As Yeşilada notes, UNESCO devoted its World Poetry Day in 2002 to Hikmet (“Poesie der dritten Sprache” [see note 6].
p. 480, note 480.) See also Gisela Kraft. “Nâzım Hikmet”. Kritisches Lexikon zur fremdsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur”. Ed. Heinz Ludwig Arnold. Vol. 5. Munich: edition text & kritik, 1983. pp. 1-10 [Grundlieferung]; and Dietrich Gronau. Nâzım Hikmet: Eine Biografie. Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1991.
Kraft and Gronau also discuss the longstanding ban on Hikmet publications in Turkey between the mid-1930s and mid-1960s, which of course complicates the conception of Hikmet as a people’s poet.
Jean Améry. “Ressentiments”. Jean Améry: Werke. Ed. Irene HeidelbergerLeonard. [Vol. 2. Ed. Gerhard Scheit]. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 2002. p. 128.
No endorsement of actual torture, dismemberment, or loss of life in war is in any way intended in either the works under discussion here or this analysis of them.
Adelson. The Turkish Turn (see note 1). pp. 169-170 et passim.
Seyla Benhabib. The Claims of Culture: Equality and Diversity in the Global Era.
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2002). pp. 7-8, 25.
Experiment Mars plines. Such rhetoric bespeaks the analytical need for alternative models of sociability and context when older container-models of community and belonging fail us.16 Accepting a prestigious literary award as recently as 2003, Alexander Kluge even explicitly characterized books as “networks” that are “necessary for survival” (notwendiges Überlebensmittel ).17 The trope of survival here clearly echoes Kluge’s fictional concerns with what is “left over” when earthly contexts are destroyed, as we have seen in reference to Lernprozesse, but the trope of survival may also conjure – for some readers and listeners – more holistically oriented associations with tradition, legacy, and continuity rather than change. Such associations tend to underwrite many popular and scholarly assumptions – normative as well as descriptive – about the function of ethnicity, even in dramatically changing worlds on planet Earth. For that reason, it is important to note that Kluge’s fictional tale of a Martian “avantgarde” circles around the question of what is “left over” in bits – given the increasingly de-materialized presence of earthly life – and decidedly not “what remains” in any holistic representational sense.18 Much will pivot on this distinction.
See Anthony Giddens. Runaway World: How Globalisation Is Reshaping Our Lives.
New York: Routledge, 2003. The analytical conceit of networks is especially common in urban studies and media studies. Writing on recent avantgarde art in Germany, Lutz Koepnick observes in a related vein that networks represent “the dominant structure of communication, collaboration, and cultural production” today. As he puts it, this is because “the exchange of immaterial goods – of information, knowledge, and ideas” predominates, and the principally “open form of the network” is able to elude “material form, finality, and closure”. See Lutz Koepnick. “Bits and Pieces: Art in the Age of Global Networks”. Reality Bites (see note 8). pp. 103-149. Arjun Appadurai’s anthropological study of changing diasporas, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1996, first discussed “global cultural flows” in terms of “ethnoscapes”, “mediascapes”, “technoscapes”, “financescapes”, and “ideoscapes” (pp. 33-34 et passim). Negt and Kluge’s frequent rhetorical and analytical recourse to Zusammenhänge in situations where nothing quite “hangs together” to present a whole might be fruitfully considered in this historical connection too.
Alexander Kluge. “Büchner-Preis-2003 Rede”. (http://www.kluge-alexander.de/presse_dankrede_buechnerpreis-2003.shtml; Section II, April 19, 2007).
The figure of “what remains” informs Christa Wolf’s eponymous reflections on life in the German Democratic Republic, which were published after its demise.
See Christa Wolf. Was bleibt: Erzählung. Frankfurt/M.: Luchterhand, 1990.
30 Leslie A. Adelson In the life of academe an attachment to territories and communities thought to cohere in their ideal form seems to lose more and more analytical purchase as global and local phenomena become increasingly enmeshed.19 This shifting ground of analysis manifests itself in various ways in scholarship on ethnicity in particular. Commenting on “the nature of
ethnicity in the project of migration”, for example, John Rex observes:
Although much of the theoretical writing about ethnicity has been concerned with the attachment of an ethnic group to a territory, in fact ethnic communities are often concerned precisely with their detachment from a territory, that it is to say with the business of international migration.20 Rex pointedly uncouples ethnicity and nationalism by challenging the ostensible primacy of continuous territorial homelands for migrant communities. Could the primacy of continuous human communities cohering as cultural blocs be similarly challenged if ethnos were no longer defined by ethnicity for non-migrating groups too? Could it be that detachment from received forms of communal embodiment serves new forms of social affiliation for which tradition- and legacy-based models of ethnicity can no longer account? The suggestion may not be as bold as years of identity politics lead us to believe. Writing in 1914 – just around the time that Futurist fervor was seizing many European intellectuals21 – Max Weber defined the lived principle of ethnos in terms that are
not bound to continuity of blood or even custom:
The term “glocalization” was coined in Japanese business practices in the 1980s and subsequently adapted for scholarly analysis by Roland Robertson at a conference on globalization and indigeneity. See Globalization and Indigenous Culture. Ed. Inoue Nobutaka. Tokyo: Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics. Kokugakuin University, 1997. Critical reflections on interactive global and local spheres are now widespread.
John Rex. “The Nature of Ethnicity in the Project of Migration”. The Ethnicity Reader: Nationalism, Multiculturalism, and Migration. Ed. Montserrat Guibernau and John Rex. 1997; Oxford: Blackwell, 2003. pp. 269-283, here p. 274.
For related theoretical interventions see: Brian Axel. “The Diasporic Imaginary”. Public Culture 12:2 (2002): pp. 411-428.
Marjorie Perloff dates the height of “the Futurist Moment” to the six months prior to World War I, though she also discusses Italian Futurism prior to 1914 as well as Russian Futurism of the 1920s and notes that Vladimir Mayakovsky gave his Futurist lectures in Moscow in 1912. See Perloff. The Futurist Moment (see note 9). pp. xxi, xxiv; 116-160.
Experiment Mars We shall call ‘ethnic groups’ those human groups that entertain a subjective belief in their common descent because of similarities of physical type or of customs or both, or because of memories of colonization and migration; this belief must be important for the propagation of group formation; conversely, it does not matter whether or not an objective blood relationship exists.22 As the editors of a recent anthology of essays on ethnicity in relation to both nationalism and migration stress, Weber underscores the constitutive importance of subjective perceptions, not physical facts or cultural traits as such, for the formation of ethnos as a social phenomenon.23 According to Weber, once purposive modes of affiliation turn into personal relationships, the subjective perception of “common ethnicity” may follow – not precede – such relationships.24 If contemporary literature mobilizes or enables modes of affiliation in newly imaginative ways, perhaps it can be said that this literature, in some respects, also contributes to a re-working of ethnos as a social phenomenon today. Beyond the “imagined communities” of national modernities, about which so much has been said in the last twenty-five years25, what new forms of imagined Max Weber. “What is an ethnic group?”. The Ethnicity Reader (see note 20).
pp. 15-26. Originally published in German in 1922 for inclusion in Weber’s Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft: Grundriss der verstehenden Soziologie, this piece is reprinted in The Ethnicity Reader in English translation from: Max Weber. Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology. Ed. Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich. Trans. Ephraim Fischoff et al. Berkeley: University of California, 1978.
Montserrat Guibernau and John Rex. “Introduction”. The Ethnicity Reader (see note 20). p. 2. Guibernau and Rex also point out that the category of “ethnicity” has become “increasingly crucial in the social sciences” since the 1960s – because of phenomena associated with political decolonization, postcolonial nation-building, and transnational labor migration to Europe – and again since the 1990s, when so-called ethnic cleansing wrought havoc in post-socialist Europe (p. 1).
Weber. “What is an ethnic group?”. The Ethnicity Reader (see note 20). p. 19. If the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are often seen as a period of modernity when wholeness ceases to characterize social life – as Nietzsche famously observed – perhaps ethnicity has become rather than remained a compensatory category of presumed wholeness over the course of the last century. Weber’s formulation is useful for revisiting this presumption.
See especially Benedict Anderson’s seminal Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. [1983, rev. ed.] London: Verso, 1991.
32 Leslie A. Adelson communities are possible when the very notion of community either collapses or proliferates in bits and pieces of its former self? The language of networks lends itself to this type of analytical question, of course, especially but not only in relationship to media studies. What additional avenues of analytical inquiry might the literary experiments of conceptual artists such as Kluge, Karpat, and Şenocak suggest? Attention to functions of futurity in their work will help us think about this question.
In countless public debates about immigration and in many scholarly venues too, cultural and ethnic communities are often presumed to cohere on the basis of shared remembrances of shared pasts. This focus on the past is also evident in Weber’s definition of ethnic groups cited above, even as the theoretical sociologist highlights subjective beliefs rather than objective histories for collective ties that bind. Yet what would it mean to conceive of ethnoscapes predicated, not on tradition and heritage – not even as subjectively affirmed – but on fictional futures instead? What if some of the ties that bind in the new Europe begin to turn on precisely this distinction? When Arjun Appadurai coined the term “ethnoscape” in his seminal study of global diasporas and changing modernities at the end of the twentieth century, he defined the concept metaphorically – in contradistinction to conventional containermodels of ethnicity – as “the landscape of persons who constitute the shifting world in which we live”.26 For the renowned anthropologist, the social labor of imagination at this juncture becomes “the key component of the new global order”.27 Bespeaking an exaggerated and optimistic claim difficult to sustain amidst widespread concerns with terrorism, war, and security today, Appadurai’s bold assertion a decade ago should nonetheless give us pause to consider two questions that he does not raise. What new cultural functions accrue to the literary imagination at the turn to the twenty-first century? And what facets of this imaginative phenomenon come into view when literary ethnoscapes become pointedly oriented to the future rather than the past?
As Fredric Jameson’s Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions suggests, however, imaginative engagements with the future always also entail imaginative excavations of the past.28 A literary orientation to the future rather than the past can therefore be only a Appadurai. Modernity at Large (see note 16). p. 33.
Appadurai. Modernity at Large (see note 16). p. 31.
Jameson. Archaeologies of the Future (see note 2).