Presentation of Racism in Contemporary German and Austrian Theatre

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Explores the representation of ethnic minorities and the construction of national identities in contemporary plays written by German and Austrian women. The study draws on approaches of cultural and postcolonial studies, African-American and other minority feminist criticism as well as Anglo-American and German feminist scholarship. The plays examined in the book include Kerstin Specht’s Lila, Elfriede Müller’s Goldener Oktober, Bettina Fless’s Asyl, Gundi Ellert’s Jagdzeit, Marlene Streeruwitz’s Bagnacavallo, and Elfriede Jelinek’s Stecken, Stab und Stangl. This book evaluates the characters in terms of visual representation, the way in which they communicate with other characters, and the characters’ involvement in the development of the play. The work demonstrates that the playwrights assign minority characters a restricted verbal capacity that limits their influence on the action of the play, thereby reducing such characters to function merely as catalysts for problems of the German and Austrian communities. The playwrights write with a well-meaning intention but some cannot avoid the trap of their position as self-appointed spokesperson while other offer new positions from where they speak and avoid reproducing stereotypes of the “Other”. This work will appeal to scholars in German studies, feminist studies and drama.


“At least since the late eighteenth century when Friedrich Schiller declared the theater an institution with the potential for inculcating morality, German playwrights have grappled with the balance between entertainment and pedagogical intent. Dr. Britta Kallin’s well-researched and highly original study argues convincingly that the struggle continues . . . This is an original and engaging piece of scholarship, one that will surely make valuable contributions to scholars in women’s studies, in drama and theater, and through the interdisciplinary field of German Studies. And, as Dr Kallin herself writes, these six plays could, given the appropriate audiences, help to alter not only traditional ways of think about ethnicity and gender, but also about their interconnectedness in the construction of national identity.” – (from the Foreword) Professor Sara Friedrichsmeyer, University of Cincinnati

“Dr. Kallin’s study addresses a basic dilemma faced by writers who strive to represent the “Other” in their works: how to describe and portray characters who are considered ethnically or culturally different from the majority without resorting to cliché or stereotype . . . Dr. Kallin offers concise descriptions of each of the plays she discusses, allowing readers who are not familiar with the drama in question to follow her discussion while at the same time making these plays known to a wider audience.” – Professor Katharina Gerstenberger, University of Cincinnati

“Dr. Kallin’s manuscript offers in-depth readings of cutting-edge dramatists in Germany and Austria that are not, to the best of my knowledge, addressed as a cultural phenomenon in any other current publication on contemporary literature and culture in Germany. Her attention to questions of the staging of the plays, especially in regard to questions of visibility and invisibility, makes this an important contribution to theatre studies in the German-speaking and English-speaking realm. The centrality of the topic of representability of minority characters and the integration of discourses regarding contemporary racism, the holocaust, and the history of colonialism makes this an important contribution to the fields of critical race studies, post-colonial studies, and holocaust studies in and beyond German Studies. Lastly, Dr. Kallin’s manuscript also makes a contribution to feminist theory in and beyond the parameters of German studies that will advance the field in crucial ways.” – Professor Barbara Mennel, University of Florida

Table of Contents

Foreword by Sara Friedrichsmeyer
Introduction: Representations of the Other
1. A Philippine, Postcolonial Other in Kerstin Specht’s Lila
2. Vietnamese, Poles, and Turkish-Germans in Elfriede Müller’s Goldener Oktober
3. African Asylum-Seekers and German Kurds in Bettina Fless’s Asyl
4. A Female Gypsy in Gundi Ellert’s Jagdzeit
5. A Moroccan Bedouin in Marlene Streeruwitz’s Bagnacavallo
6. Roma in Elfriede Jelinek’s Stecken, Stab und Stangl

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