Genocide and Taboo

  • Leslie A. Adelson
Part of the Studies in European Culture and History book series (SECH)


The year 1990 marked the national unification of German territories and communities divided by the victors of World War II and the dictates of the Cold War that followed. Erected in August 1961, the Berlin Wall could be seen as a belated manifestation of the metaphorical Iron Curtain that Winston Churchill famously coined as a historical referent in 1945. When the Wall fell no less famously in 1989, the concrete holes chiseled out of it paved the way to a unified free Germany, which the West German state had claimed in its constitutional preamble as its provisional reason for being and its ultimate reason not to be.1 But this Germany was not free of the drag of historical narrative, and every story about the national turn takes recourse to figural language of some sort. What tales of German metamorphosis does the literature of Turkish migration weave at century’s end? What does the Turkish touch effect in the cultural archive of the 1990s? This chapter delineates partial answers to these questions by contrasting two innovative texts in which Turks, Germans, and Jews figure in surprising ways, Feridun Zaimoğlu’s Kanak Sprak: 24 Migtöne vom Rande der Gesellschaft [Kanak Speak: 24 Discordant Notes from Society’s Edge] (1995) and Zafer Şenocak’s Gefährliche Verwandtschaft [Perilous Kinship] (1998).2 Because no direct path leads from there and then to here and now, the line of analysis wends a circuitous path toward the configuration of genocide and taboo in the literature of Turkish migration.


Historical Narrative Hate Speech Figural Language Turkish Migration German Culture 
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© Leslie A. Adelson 2005

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  • Leslie A. Adelson

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