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Northeast Modern Language Association

50 Anniversary Convention

Washington, DC

March 21-24, 2019


Migrant Works in German-Language Literature:

Loss of *Heimat *and (Yugo)nostalgia



Yugoslavia’s ties with German-speaking countries are deeply rooted in
history. From the Austro-Hungarian Empire, through to the
*Gastarbeiter *program
of the 1960s and 1970s, various historical political connections account
for why a great number of Yugoslavs live in Austria, Germany, and
Switzerland today. In more recent times, the geographical proximity of
German-speaking countries made these an accessible safe haven for refugees
fleeing Yugoslavia during the wars of the 1990s. To this day, the Yugoslav
Wars (1991-2001) remain the most brutal and violent conflict in post-1945
Europe. Following the cessation of violence in the Balkans, many of these
refugees returned home, while others chose to stay in their new, adoptive
homeland. A number of  immigrants and refugees from the former Yugoslavia,
including Saša Stanišić, Marica Bodrožić, Dragica Rajčić, Melinda Nadj
Abonji, Danijela Pilic, Danko Rabrenović, Nicol Ljubić and Dubravka
Ugrešić, have become well-established writers within the German-speaking
literary scene, forming part of what Brigid Haines has termed the “Eastern
Turn” in contemporary German literature. Many of them turned to literature
to write about their traumatic experiences, a sense of loss, place and
identity in the wake of the Yugoslav wars and the breaking up of their
former homeland. In fact, the size of the Yugoslav communities in Germany,
Austria and Switzerland – which together are home to the majority of the
Yugoslav diaspora – means that German has become one of the primary
languages used to write about the Yugoslav Wars. This panel explores the
ways in which ex-Yugoslav migrant and exile authors writing in German deal
with the aftermath of the war in their literary texts. More precisely, how
these engagements with past and memory can be understood in the context of
what scholars such as Zala Volcic and Cynthia Simmons refer to as
(Yugo)nostalgia, the sentimental response to the often traumatic loss of a
bygone Yugoslav *Heimat*.



The following questions may serve as starting points for contributions to
this panel:

·       Which genres do authors from the former Yugoslavia select to
discuss the wars and why?

·       What role do issues of age, ethnicity, gender and religion play in
these texts?

·       Which theoretical approaches to memory, trauma and nostalgia are
most productive in teasing out these complex intersections of identity in
texts by authors of the Yugoslavian “Eastern Turn”?

·       What role does the country of migration play in these texts? Do the
migrants and exiles manage to arrive and settle in the new country
successfully in the texts, and what is the aftermath of the *Ankunft *in
the new country?

·       Is nostalgia/(Yugo)nostalgia present in the texts? And if so, how
is it represented? Do writers reject or otherwise respond to the discourse
of (Yugo)nostalgia in their work?

·       What is the function of the German and native language in these
texts? When and is the native language used and to what purpose?

·       How do writers from Yugoslavia respond to the German discourse of
*Heimat* in their work? How can *Heimat *theory and German discourses of
home and homeland assist us in understanding the issues at stake when
dealing with (Yugo)nostalgia in the aftermath of the Yugoslav Wars? How
does the East-German phenomenon of *Ostalgie* render useful insights in the
study of this corpus of texts?



Please send abstracts of 250 words to Aleksandra Starčević (
[log in to unmask]) *and* Michel Mallet ([log in to unmask]) by
September 30, 2018.



Aleksandra Starčević

Ph.D. Candidate

Georgetown University
Department of German
Intercultural Center 468
Washington, DC 20057

[log in to unmask]

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