TRANSIT 11.1: Foreword
Reflections on (a) Changing Europe
It is my privilege to introduce the first issue of the eleventh volume of TRANSIT Journal. We enter our second decade as a journal with an exciting new constellation of articles responding to our ongoing CFP: Reflections on (a) Changing Europe. These articles represent the first in a series of projects aimed at providing a point of reference in the challenging political and academic environment of 2017.
We begin our issue with two articles providing a historical contextualization for our current state of political polarization. In “Europe’s Displacements: Kurt Tucholsky’s Satirical Essays ‘Identification’ and ‘The Border'” Charlton Payne provides a short scholarly introduction to two newly translated satirical essays by Kurt Tucholsky from 1920: “Identification” and “The Border.” These soberingly present historical satires on the bureaucratization of the nation state remind us that the dehumanizing processes of modern mobility are deeply tied to the project of nation building. The latter translation ends with an earnest plea for a new conceptualization of our shared human experience—pledging Tucholsky’s hope for future generations in a bid for international pacifism.
Ashwin Manthripragada’s “Stefan Zweig’s Fear of Postcolonialism” analyzes Zweig’s 1909 editorial “Die indische Gefahr für England” (“The Indian Threat to England”), published in response to the infamous assassination of Sir William Curzon Wyllie, political aide-de-camp to the Secretary of State of British India at the hands of Indian nationalist, Madar Lal Dhingra. Zweig’s measured critique of the event provides powerful insight on the implications of this historical act of political violence, demonstrating obvious points of comparison with the Austrian Empire’s own tenuous colonial ventures on the Balkan Peninsula. Following his investigation into the development of Zweig’s nascent political beliefs, Manthripragada asks us as readers to consider in what ways Zweig’s conflicted views on Indian resistance to British rule force the painful comparison between early 20th century anticolonial violence and acts of terrorism in the present day.
Transitioning out of the historical lens, Hauke Lehmann’s “How Does Arriving Feel? Modulating a Cinematic Sense of Commonality” poses an intervention into our conceptualization of Turkish-German cinema, arguing against a representational model conflating cinematic image with social reality. Through a close analysis of the film Almanya – Willkommen in Deutschland, Lehmann instead develops a conceptual perspective which aims at realigning the relation between migration discourses and audiovisual media production, observing the circulation of global artistic tropes in contemporary cinema. Lehmann’s contribution helps facilitate an important deconstruction of our understanding of genre, demanding a more film-specific analytical approach to contemporary cinema.
Elizabeth Mittman’s “Celestial Desires and Earthly Migrations: Love, Poetry, and Agency in Özdamar’s Seltsame Sterne starren zur Erde” argues for a new investigation of Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s literature, moving beyond investigations into thematics of migration and German memory politics towards the exploration of the framework of migration as metaphor. Mittman presents Seltsame Sterne in this essay less as a story of spatial migration, but rather one of personal desire. In the constellation of this publication, love functions here as the ultimate vehicle for both transit and transformation in Özdamar’s work.
“Ungehaltene neue deutsche Literatur: Ein Interview mit Deniz Utlu” is drawn from Daniel Schreiner’s correspondences with Deniz Utlu, the founder of freitext Magazin and author of the recent novel Die Ungehaltenen (Graf 2014). An excerpted translation from Die Ungehaltenen can be found in TRANSIT 10.2. Available both in the original German as well as English translation, Utlu and Schreiner’s interview spans a wide range of topics—from transatlantic language politics to the rise of neo-nationalism. TRANSIT is grateful for Utlu and Schreiner’s continued collaboration in helping bring their conversation to our readership.
This issue concludes with Kristin Dickinson and Selim Özdoğan’s “Who Said Heimat? I’m Only Renting,” a project based on collaborative work produced during Özdoğan’s stay as Max Kade Writer in Residence at the University of Michigan in the Fall of 2016. In addition to Dickinson’s scholarly introduction, TRANSIT is pleased to publish an interview between Dickinson and Özdoğan which touches—among other things—upon topics as diverse as the writer’s appropriation of Turkish satirical form in his German prose, identity and Heimat in a postmigrant German-language context, and the author’s observations on American humor. Their project concludes with a number of selected translations produced by students during a series of workshops held in Dickinson’s seminar “Un/Translatability in Theory and Practice.” TRANSIT is excited to publish these first English translations from Özdoğan’s recent novel, Wieso Heimat, ich wohne zur Miete (Haymon 2016).
As managing editor, I am humbled by the breadth and creativity of responses TRANSIT received to its current CFP, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank TRANSIT’s numerous contributors, editors, and authors for their help in bringing this new issue to fruition. We continue to accept submissions for our current volume, and look forward to our ongoing cooperation across the global scholarly community. The continued rise of nationalist agendas on both sides of the Atlantic, the physical erection of walls, and the reconfiguration of borders in both Europe and America lend increased urgency to our investigation of the migrant experience, and TRANSIT Journal remains dedicated to our pursuit of publishing peer-reviewed, open-source digital research and translation which further illuminates the experience of travel, movement, and migration in an increasingly polarizing world.