Critical Race Discourse in Contemporary German Fiction


This paper aims to investigate literary contribution to critical race discourse in Germany and its relevance, focusing on Olivia Wenzel’s 1000 Serpentinen Angst (1000 Coils of Fear) and Sharon Dodua Otoo’s Adas Raum (Ada’s Realm). Playing with narrative conventions, both novels reflect on discrimination and have introduced new points of view on racism and racialization in Germany. First, the study will discuss the introduction of critical race theory in Germany under influence of US-American research and examine its reception in European context. It will put forward especially the difficult circulation of critical whiteness studies in contexts where whiteness is still perceived as norm. Furthermore, the paper will analyze the influence of German peculiar history on debate on racism, showing how Otoo, who was born and grew up in UK, and Wenzel, who was born in former German Democratic Republic, offer new perspectives on racial issues to German readership. Special attention will be drawn to Otoo’s and Wenzel’s experimental narrative strategies: Otoo’s use of objects as narrators of four different overlapping stories and Wenzel’s unnamed narrator answering questions from (an) unidentified voice(s) create both empathy and alienation, emotional and critical awareness. The study will try to highlight the impact of these formal choices on discourse upon racism in Germany. By doing so, it also aims to contribute to the discussion of potential intertwinements between aesthetics and ethics, form and politics.

Author Information
Dora Rusciano, eCampus University, Italy

Paper Information
Conference: BAMC2023
Stream: Literature

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon