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German Diasporic Experiences

Identity, Migration, and Loss

Mathias Schulze, James M. Skidmore, David G. John, Grit Liebscher, and Sebastian Siebel-Achenbach, editors

WCGS German Studies Series

Hardcover 540 pp.

ISBN13: 978-1-55458-027-9

Release Date: October 2008

Online discount: 25%

$85.00  $63.75


eBook availability

Co-published with the Waterloo Centre for German Studies

For centuries, large numbers of German-speaking people have emigrated from settlements in Europe to other countries and continents. In German Diasporic Experiences: Identity, Migration, and Loss, more than forty international contributors describe and discuss aspects of the history, language, and culture of these migrant groups, individuals, and their descendants. Part I focuses on identity, with essays exploring the connections among language, politics, and the construction of histories—national, familial, and personal—in German-speaking diasporic communities around the world. Part II deals with migration, examining such issues as German migrants in postwar Britain, German refugees and forced migration, and the immigrant as a fictional character, among others. Part III examines the idea of loss in diasporic experience with essays on nationalization, language change or loss, and the reshaping of cultural identity.

Essays are revised versions of papers presented at an international conference held at the University of Waterloo in August 2006, organized by the Waterloo Centre for German Studies, and reflect the multidisciplinarity and the global perspective of this field of study.

Mathias Schulze, James M. Skidmore, David G. John, Grit Liebscher, and Sebastien Siebel-Achenbach are researchers at the Waterloo Centre for German Studies at the University of Waterloo and have published on aspects of German language and linguistics (Liebscher, Schulze), literature and film (John, Skidmore), and history (Siebel-Achenbach).


“Thirty-nine brief but lively, evocative essays testify to the universal human experience of exile. The editors of this fascinating, wide-ranging collection have chosen their title well, as ‘diasporic experiences’ neatly sidesteps the thorny question of what constitutes a diaspora as such. In view of the fact that German-speaking people left territories variously bounded in nation-states and empires at different times or were stranded as minorities in new political entities, it is difficult to ascribe a single noun to such diverse dispersal.... Together [these essays] offer a diverse feast for scholars of German history and culture.”

— Renate Bridenthal, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, Journal of World History

“The concept of Diaspora has received considerable attention in the Humanities over the last 20 years or so, to the extent that at times it can appear too global a term to be of any actual intellectual use (Brubaker 2005). But maybe there is good reason for its wide application to a host of different social setups, geographical locations, and historical time periods, and this book may be testament to the validity of this in the context of German communities across the world. Presenting papers delivered at a conference in 2006 in Waterloo, Canada, the volume contains 39 chapters organized in three broad sections, ‘Identity’, ‘Migration’ and ‘Loss’ and providing a rich overview of how people are affected by the process of migration, either personally or historically. It is therefore no surprise that this book contains much more than ‘straighforward’ sociolinguistic perspectives but also includes studies more at home in Film and Literary Studies, Anthropology and Social History.... It is a significant strength of this book that it does not appear to exclude anyh particular time period, location, or group of migrants from its coverage, and the reader gets a comprehensive...impression of the diversity of German diasporas.... [T]his book succeeds in demonstrating what an interdisciplinary approach to a topic can mean and readers will get a genuine impression of how wide-ranging sociological topics such as diaspora are. In the vast majority of papers, quotations and examples have been translated into English so that this book, which has been meticulously edited and presented, will be accessible to readers without any knowledge of German. Whilst some indiviudal chapters my be too brief to be truly insightful, they nonetheless serve as an excellent starting point for further study and, thus, on the whole this book can be recommended as a comprehensive introduction to German Diasporic Experiences.”

— Nils Langer, Journal of Sociolinguistics

“Truly an impressive collection of research concerning the diverse experiences and complex process of adaptation of German-speaking people in their new homelands....German Diasporic Experience certainly provokes the reader to contemplate the difficult question concerning the basis of German identity—is it nationality, culture, or temporal context—and also the difficult question of assessing the complex migration experience. As such, this book is an extremely valuable contribution for scholars and laymen interested in German culture and migration studies. The essays offer rich and insightful material to further the exploration of culture and identity formation and how they define us in this global village.”

— Eugenie M. Blang, Hampton University, German Studies Review

“This book is an important contribution to German Studies because it focuses on subjects neglected by mainstream research and complements German exile studies that have mainly dealt with the cultural artifacts produced by the exiles in art, literature, music, and university scholarship... With few exceptions exile research has neglected mass migration and concentrated on individual achievements and failures, while diaspora studies paid little attention to artistic and intellectual production. Both fields have largely ignored each other. This volume shows that they could profit from each other in the future.”

— Ehrhard Bahr, University of California, Los Angeles, Monatshefte

German Diasporic Experiences

Table of Contents

Related interest

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