GER 371 – Portfolio
At the end of the term, you will submit a portfolio, in which you will collect and analyze material that deals with a specific discourse in German culture (i.e. politics, religion, immigration, integration, etc.). Once you have chosen a discourse you would like to investigate, select three German cultural artifacts (i.e. books, films, paintings, photography, sculpture, architecture, etc.) from the last twentyfive years, a contemporary German cultural figure, and a cultural space in Germany. Analyze these artifacts, figures, and spaces in light of the cultural discourse you have chosen, and be sure to bring in insights and information from the course materials and course discussions covered throughout the term.
German culture Portfolio
Germany was from 1960 to 1991 divided by Berlin wall creating two blocks of German. The Germany revolution resulted to the fall of the Berlin wall, a move that was aspired to break the earlier division in the country, to create a unified country. Germany unification was a big thing. It attracted the global attention and hence it was anticipated to bring many changes in the country, especially the Eastern Germany which was struggling economically and whose members were considerably uncertain about the future after the unification process (Fulbrook 333). There was expected change of rules in the country with fear of dismissal of some of unshared laws and practices especially the abortion law. It was certain that the life Germans would change after the unification event, though majority were not sure on the turn Germans’ life would take (Fulbrook, 343). This paper discusses some of the cultural and political changes that followed German unification after the fall of the Berlin wall.
How fall of the Berlin wall initiated a new era in the history of German migration
The fall of the Berlin wall initiated a new era in the history of German migration. The years following German unification were typified by new cohesive identity of German and racial violence against immigrants in the country, particularly Turkey immigrant that had immigrated into the country immediately after the construction of the Berlin wall as guest workers. There were a number of racist attacks, mostly targeting Turkish people in Solingen and Molln. There was also a lot of criminalization of German off-springs. There were also counter reaction incidences by Turkish immigrant offspring against anti-citizenship and racist attacker, particularly policies that were against dual citizenship (Kaya 2). Although immigrant politics were there in the West Germany since 1980s, East Germany were targeted by political and public discourses as xenophobic. The racist incidences in 2011 however raised the question of probable support of racist violence by the state. These incidences together with deep rooted homogenization of all Turkey people in Germany as Turks in Germany and Kurds and Alevis attacks in Turkey, pushed many to claim different belongings with regard to language, religiosity, and ethnicity rather than being just ‘Turk. Against this framework, the 1990s young generation can be termed as a societal transition generation. This was the first step to integration. The fight against Turkish integration by provision of citizenship was mostly based on the fear of Turkish government influence on German living Turkish while making political decision, especially during election, with justifiable based on what had happened in France; Muslim representation in France (Kaya, 4).
Struggle for Turkish immigrant to be integrated in Germany
The struggle for Turkish immigrant to be integrated in Germany resulted to the change of the citizenship rule in the country in 2001. German revised citizenship law of descent nationality and that of birth nationality. The new law recognized young generation of Turkish descendant born of immigrant parents in the country. Germany in 2005 was declared an immigrant country, with reduction of number of years an immigrant must remain in Germany before acquiring nationality by five years, and recognizing children born by immigrant as citizens if the parents or one of the parents have been residing in the country for the last eight years. Immigrant offspring’s educated in Germany were offered nationality after being there for eight years (Kaya and Kayaoglu, 117). According to Kaya and Kayaoglu (118), citizenship does not only concern duties performance and rights enjoyment as a full political community member. On contrary, it also communicates solidarity feeling and identity with other citizens. Citizenship is a tool in the pursuit for recognition of uniqueness of a person which can include linguistic, ethnic and religious among others
Changes of law in germany led to decline of racism
The change of laws in Germany resulted to decline of the racism and focus in the members’ contribution to the development of the economy of the country. Integration of immigrants into an economy according to Kaya and Kayaoglu (120) can result to both advantages and disadvantages. On disadvantages, immigrants integrated in the country end up getting equal rights to employment and sometimes earning better than the other citizen. They may also increase the rate of unemployment in the country. Naturalization in Germany has been associated with improved economic integration where immigrant got better employment opportunities in the country after naturalization. On a different perspective, integration of immigrants in a country provides better opportunities to utilize the abilities and talents of immigrants to improve the economy of the country. Germany for instance has highly benefited from Turkish immigrants business persons for instant Vural Oger among others whose German employees in their firms account for about 75% of total employees employee a total of about 400000 workers of German origin (Kaya, 9). Generally integration brings more benefits than constant racist attacks that can result to distress and decline in human production in their businesses.
Another other aspect that could have been affected by unification was religion. German was initially a Christian nation. However, churches and spread of Christianity was highly suppressed in the Eastern German just like in any other communist country. There was strict separation of state and religion in East Germany, with church experiencing restricted contribution to the society. There were so many and advance religious changes after the construction of the Berlin wall, including the abandonment of Volkskirche principle. People abandoned Christianity to socialism. By the time of unification, Christians were the minority in the East Germany (Henkel, 311). However, things were about to change with unification of Germany. After the 1990 Germany unification, East Germany experienced the reintroduction of Volkskirche principle (Christian state). According to Henkel (113) protestant church and protestant church members had contributed a great deal to the fall of the Berlin wall and collapse of communism. It was thus anticipated that most defectors would honor the new normal and return back to the church. However, this did not happen. To the church surprise, jugendweihe (young consecration) did not disappear with dissolving of German Democratic Republic although jegendweihe declined slightly in mid-1990s it reemerged later and developed to a more strong movement. Today over 50 % of East German young people do practice jugendweihe, though it lacks political support that it used to have before unification of German. It has lost its initial ideological background. Jugendweihe is thus today mainly regarded as a ‘value-free rite de passage.’
According to Henkel (114), what was actually regarded as unification can best be defined as accession in all other life aspects. In unification two equal partners were supposed to come together. However in this particular case, the East Germany was imposed with West Germany governance structure, losing all that identified it as a unique entity. The five new landers, from East Germany, hastily joined the existing state adopting its laws, rules and regulations. This means there was a change of the religious structure of East Germany to fully adopt the West Germany structure. Similarly, the eight regional protestant churches on the East Germany Territory joined the EKD and obtained the same rights and status as the West Germany regional churches. Reorganization was also experienced in the Catholic churches in East Germany which was attended by about 5% of the East Germany population. Together with dioceses of Dresden-Meiben and Berlin that were in existence during the Unification, Gorlitz, Magdeburg and Erfurt were joined in the newly established archdiocese or Hamburg. The loss of territories of most of protestant made them shift from protestant to catholic than catholic moved to Protestants, increasing catholic population in the country from around 2000. Thus catholic today outnumbers Protestants in Germany (Henkel, 312).
Challenges experienced in religion after unification of Germany
Religion in Germany has experienced a number of challenges after the unification of Germany. One of these challenges includes secularization. Although the country is a Christian nation, the two major churches; catholic and protestant only account for 63%. About 29% of the population does not belong to any church though they enjoy status privileges. In addition, there are emerging laws working on separation of religion and state which may diminish the church status in the country. People seem to be fighting to regain freedom of worship and not to be imposed into studying compulsory religion subjects at school to alternatives of ethics courses. The two major churches are currently losing populism with people shifting to emerging churches that include scientology church, and Jehovah witnesses. The new churches seem to be wining the legal and institutional framework to work and to relate with the state, declining the original power that catholic and Protestant had in Germany. There is also spread of Islamic religion after the immigration of Turkish and being in the country for more than 50 years. In addition, the recent immigration from Soviet Union in 1990s has brought about the growth of Jewish community in the country all these changes seems to be declining the glory that was initially held by catholic and protestant change in the country (Henkel, 313).
The German church is also experiencing civilization clash, especially with spread of Islamic in the region. Today, German Muslims especially with Turkish origin are trying to build mosque in different towns in the country. These are new changes in Germany having never experienced colonization or cultural integration in the past. The growth of multiculturalism in the country is bringing up new changes that seem not be readily welcome. The use of Muslim scarf commonly known as hijab by Muslim girls at school and Muslim women in public places is another controversial topic in German religious environment. This topic is commonly attracting legal battles in Germany courts as different people seek to be granted their rights while others feel their authority has been violated with embracement of such religious traditions (Cornelissen and Jirjahn 502).
In conclusion, there a clear indication of major changes in Germany after embracement of unification. Unification came with major changes which included struggle for immigrant integration and their eventual success. This empowered immigrants’ economically and also improved social relations in the country, by reducing racism crashes. This also changed the country atmosphere, granting immigrant more power to claim their rights in the country. Consequently, the country is experiencing changes in other institutions including religious institutions, following their decision. The current civilization crisis in religious environment is directly related with the change of citizenship and nationalism law, integrate immigrants into the country. Unification strengthened the weak religious position in East Germany; it did not kill the bad culture adapted during separation. All these factors have highly weakend the church position in the state.
Cornelissen, Thomas, and Jirjahn Uwe. “September 11th and the earnings of Muslims in Germany: The Moderating Role of Education and Firm Size.” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, vol.81, no.2, 2012, pp. 490-504.
Fulbrook, Mary. The Divided Nation: A History of Germany 1918-1990. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Henkel, Reinhard. State-Church Relationships in Germany: Past and Present. GeoJournal, vol.67, no.4, 2006, pp. 307-316
Kaya, Asiye. “Special Issue: The Fiftieth Anniversary of Migration from Turkey to Germany.” German Politics & Society, vol. 31, no.2, 2013, pp. 1-12.
Kaya, Ayhan, and Kayaoglu Aysegul. “Is National Citizenship Withering Away?: Social Affiliations and Labor Market Integration of Turkish-Origin Immigrants in Germany and France”. German Studies Review; Baltimore, vol.35, no.2, 2012, pp.113-134.