Alamanya: The Transnational German Studies Working Group brings together graduate students from such diverse departments as German, History, Anthropology, Musicology, and Comparative Literature to explore a variety of transnational topics in the German sphere, including issues related to translation, migration, colonialism and exile. Alamanya emphasizes the diversity of artistic expressions in communities marked by migration and exile and calls for an interdisciplinary approach that encourages academic collaboration at the nexus of nation, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class and religion.
Alamanya's Winter 2016 topic was the Europe-wide refugee crisis, with a focus on the farreaching implications of the recent influx of migrants for German society at large; among other topics, we discussed recent changes to German asylum law, the highly debated proposal for a quota-system to distribute refugees amongst EU states, and the critical role that Germany continues to play within the crisis at large.
In February 2016, Alamanya organized a screening of Burhan Qurbani’s feature film Wir sind jung, wir sind stark (2004) which was shortlisted for Germany’s submission to the Academy Awards. Wir sind jung, wir sind stark retells the events leading up to the 1992 rightwing extremist attack on a refugee housing center in the northeastern city of Rostock-Lichtenhagen. The film offers an important historical context to the current situation, as such rightwing extremism in the early 1990s was largely in response to an influx of refugees from the Balkans at the onset of the Balkan wars.
In April 2016, Professor Ipek Celik from Koç University in Istanbul gave a talk on the refugee crisis as Alamanya’s culminating event for the 2015–16 academic year. Professor Celik’s recent book, In Permanent Crisis: Ethnicity in European Cinema and Media (University of Michigan Press) engages many of the questions that have occupied Alamanya. Individual chapters on contemporary British, German and French films examine the ethnicization of migrants in times of crisis via aesthetic representations. In her talk, Celik built on the theoretical framework in her book in order to reflect on the current situation.
Looking forward to the fall, Alamanya plans on organizing an event with author-in-residence Selim Özdoğan.