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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Bridging Cultural Divides: Emine Sevgi ÷zdamarís "Die BrŁcke vom Goldenen Horn"

Alyth F. Grant.


The two novels in German by Turkish-born writer Emine Sevgi ÷zdamar demonstrate the evolution of a hybrid identity as experienced by so many migrants within Europe today. It is a process that bears similarities to identity formation in post-colonial societies, but also significant differences. ÷zdamarís award-winning first novel, the autobiographical "Das Leben ist eine Karawanserai" won critical attention for its culturally transformed German, which anchors Turkish idiom and patterns of thought into German syntax. The language of her second novel, however, "Die BrŁcke vom Goldenen Horn"(1998), which has not yet produced the same level of critical interest, appears at least superficially much more "normal", less obviously hybrid. But the paper will argue that this novel nevertheless continues the novelistís project that was begun in the first. Together they reveal a nomadic journey toward a construction of self that literally and figuratively crosses borders, transcending European national boundaries and political phenomena and making manifest the role of language itself in the hybridising process of identity formation. In using a "reterritorialized" German ÷zdamar issues a challenge to the cultural institutions of the centre, which understand both German language and canonical culture in terms of the "lex sanguinis", for the hybrid Turkish-German or German-Turkish identity is an undeniable part of what it is to be German today. At a time when Turkey seeks and is still denied access to the European Union, ÷zdamarís work should be seen as a significant "bridge" toward a better understanding of the meaning of the integration of cultures.

Presenters

Alyth F. Grant  (New Zealand)
Senior Lecturer in German
Department of German
University of Otago

Born and educated in New Zealand, followed by postgraduate study in T√ľbingen, Germany, I qualified and taught as a secondary teacher in Auckland for 4 years. After two further years teaching in Germany I joined the staff of the University of Otago in 1977 to teach Geman language and literature. I have been head of Department since 1994.

Keywords
  • Hybridity
  • Turkish-German Identity
  • Migrant Literature
  • Minor Literature
Person as Subject
  • ÷zdamar, Emine Sevgi



(30 min Conference Paper, English)