Matters of Recognition in Contemporary German Literature
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation deals with current political immigration debates, the conversations about the philosophical concept of recognition, and intercultural encounters in contemporary German literature. By reading contemporary literature in connection with philosophical, psychological, and theoretical works, new problem areas of the liberal promise of recognition become visible. Tied to assumptions of cultural essentialism, language use, and prejudice, one of the main findings of this work is how the recognition process is closely tied to narrative. Particularly within developmental psychology it is often argued that we learn and come to terms with ourselves through narrative. The chosen literary encounters written by Alev Tekinay, Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Maxim Biller, Rafael Seligmann, and Finn-Ole Heinrich magnify this particular human experience on an aesthetic level and dismantle “mechanisms of recognition,” particularly three aspects illustrating the recognition process: the role of the narrator and his or her description of the characters, the construction of family bonds within the texts, and the linguistic and cultural practice of naming with all of its connotations. Within the chosen texts there is no unified depiction of the recognition process, but rather the texts elucidate a multidimensionality of this concept, tying it closely to the political, social, and aesthetic sphere. In this context the analysis brings to light that the notion of “authenticity” crucially informs recognition as well as the circumstances of a power imbalance that dominates the process. My analysis shows that contrary to popular assumptions in philosophical and political debates, the concept of recognition turns out to be rather limiting instead of liberating.