Toward a New Critical Grammar of Migration
  • Leslie A. Adelson
Part of the Studies in European Culture and History book series (SECH)


“Come on!” a professor once badgered. “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, don’t you damn well think it had better be a duck?” “No!” rallied the student, who happened to be an experienced bird-watcher. “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, it could be a grebe.”1 Discussion of German literature born of Turkish migration in the latter half of the twentieth century invariably prompts audiences to ask experts to do two impossible things, both predicated on the tacit assumption that the shoe-even a shoe with wings-must be made to fit. The first is to draw a comprehensive picture-on the basis of literary readings-about the social life of those Turks who comprise the largest national and ethnic minority in the Federal Republic of Germany today. The second is to explain these Turks by evacuating the Turkish and German referents altogether, by likening them to more familiar objects on the global stage, usually some constellation of ethnic minorities, powerful nation-states, and transnational economies.2 This book argues that prevailing analytical paradigms are inadequate to grasp the social dimensions that do inhere in the literature of migration. Because relevant frames of reference for interpreting this literature are often not what they appear, alternative modes of contextualization will be explored. Such exploration is especially important as the interlocking contours of nation, transnation, and postnation shape-change at increasingly accelerated rates.


Cultural Effect Literary Text Guest Work German Literature Turkish Migration 
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© Leslie A. Adelson 2005

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  • Leslie A. Adelson

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