Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
In the aftermath of National Socialism and the Holocaust, positive recourse to the idea of the nation has been a contentious issue in Germany. Members of the German feminist movement as well as of other 'progressive' segments of German society have considered the concept of the nation as antithetical to progressive politics, and they have frequently denounced their national association altogether. This strategy has come under critique for evading issues of power and accountability, for distracting from the effects that constructions of the nation and associations with nation-states have on people's lives, and for avoiding a critical confrontation with how one's own perspectives and politics are shaped by one's specific national association. In recent years, questions of German national identity have become a concern within the context of the German feminist movement, and some feminists have begun to address the issue of what could be constructive ways of coming to terms with their national identity and its implications. This thesis explores this issue by drawing on in-depth interviews with feminists in Germany. It discusses how they understood and negotiated the meanings of 'being Gentian' with regard to a variety of dimensions of their national association, for instance, how they had been socialized as Germans, how they viewed. the unified nation-state, and how they conceived of Germans as an "imagined community" (Anderson 1991). Particular attention is given to the historical context and how the women I interviewed interpreted the legacy of the Nazi past. I consider their views and experiences in terms of how they are marked by women's various locations in social relations and in terms of the specific notions of Germanness they presumed or produced in talking about 'being German.' Further, I discuss how their understandings of Germanness are related to their political views and practices. This thesis I concludes with a review oftlle kinds of "politics oflocation" (Rich 1986) these women put forward and with reflections on how conducive various understandings of Germanness, and of social locations in general, are to dealing with the challenges of coalition work across differences.
Kleinhuber, Andrea, "The (Dis)comforts of Belonging: Feminist Negotiations of Gennan Identity" (2000). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6016.
McMaster University Library