Transit Heimat: Transnational Subjectivity and Mobility in German Theatre / by Denise Varney

Transit Heimat: Transnational Subjectivity and Mobility in German Theatre

Denise Varney

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This paper is interested in themes of translation, transnational subjectivity and mobility in German theatre between 1994 and 2004. It is set within the broader context of the expansion of Europeanisation that followed German reunification and the lifting of the Iron Curtain in central and eastern Europe. It is therefore especially concerned with theatre that responds to the issues that arise with the opening of Europe’s eastern borders and the tensions associated with increased cross-border movement.

Some of the developing tensions will involve the changed status of nations in post-communist Europe, the future of national identity and culture and the formation of transnational or post-national subjectivities. Anna Langhoff’s 1994 Transit Heimat/gedeckte tische is the primary example used in this paper. It is a play about central and eastern European refugees written and performed in the critical early years of reunification that brings an early example of the changing face of Europe to the German stage. It is the little-known but important precedent for later more boisterous German-language treatments of the theme of refugees and xenophobia such as Christoph Schlingensief’s provocative Bitte Liebt Österreich (Vienna, 2000). Foreign subjects also find their counterparts in Heiner Müller’s posthumously performed Germania 3 Ghosts at Dead Man (Berlin 1996) and Germania Stücke (2004). The paper argues that these theatrical and performance pieces represent the downside of transnational or post-national subjectivities as experienced by the new Europe’s poor and powerless. In danger of falling into an underclass of stateless and itinerant welfare recipients, the characters display the trauma of the transition from the old communist regimes to the neoliberal economies of western Europe. It concludes that the play offers a timely reflection on the state of foreignness showing it as a transnational subjectivity produced by entrenched nationalist perspectives, shown nonetheless to be resilient and enduring.

This paper interprets the theme of translation in three quite specific ways before considering its wider metaphoric possibilities. Firstly, the translation of a published German text into English. Secondly, it involves the complex imaginative and creative process of transforming the verbal text, usually dialogue and stage directions, into material stage elements – voice, body, gesture, movement, image and so on. The third and related sense of translation concerns the less tangible elements of the text – variously, the sub-text, ideological underpinning, the gendered and colonialist constructions, and the visceral and affective elements – that are in excess of the verbal text and the stage directions. These elements are also translated into performance and shape its reception.

Centuries of migration and mobility have left multiple paths across Europe that trace the history of peoples in transit. Narratives of mobility feature strongly in European literature and art, from the nomadic and tribal movements of ancient, classical and biblical times to the great migrations of modernity. Europe is a landscape marked by historic tracks – the Silk Road, the Appian Way and the Via Regia evoke the exotic and legendary journeys that have passed their way. Canonical works of literature and drama from The Canterbury Tales to Gulliver’s Travels and Mother Courage, bear witness to the epic journeys that underpin European culture. Contemporary variations on the theme include Ariane Mnouchkine’s Le Dernier Caravansérail (Odyssées)/The Last Caravan-Stop (Paris, 2003), Enfants de Nuit, organized by a Belgian group, LFK-la Fabriks (Festival d’Avignon, 2002), Ping Chong’s ongoing Undesirable Elements Project (NYC, 1992; Hannover, 2002; Berlin, 2003) and Ros Horin’s Through the Wire (Melbourne, 2005). These works of immigrant, refugee and asylum seeker theatre, together with the theatrical works examined in this article, make important contributions to debates about transitional, postnational cultures and transnational subjects. As Hermann Kurthen points out, Europe’s current nation-states are the “results and causes of migrations and of population movements in times of peace and war,”[1] and cultural representations both explore and report on these movements.

The historic links between migration and the modern nation-state are often subsumed or concealed within discourses of nationalism that stabilise the nation around the rhetoric of a common people, language, values, and culture. The nation-state, understood in broad terms as “a state claiming formal political sovereignty over ‘its’ territories and a legitimacy based on the ‘people’ or ‘nation’ inhabiting them,”[2] bestows a sense of belonging on its subjects who feel at home within its territories and borders. The migrant, on the other hand, does not belong, a point made clear in the formalisation of naturalisation and citizenship ceremonies that bestow nationality, privileges and belonging on suitably qualified foreign subjects.[3] The migrant becomes a national, so to speak, putting migration behind them, blurring the connection between nation and mobility, and supporting the idea of the nation as a fixed and stable entity. The pay-off is that the nation-state promises democracy, prosperity, and the advantages of modernity.

Postcolonial, feminist, and Marxist theories have worked hard to deconstruct both the fixed and homogeneous idea of nation and national culture and of its promise of modernity. That the nation’s largesse was differently applied to categories of race, gender, and class was evidenced in the socio-economic disadvantage among minorities, women, and the working class. Homi Bhabha countered with the idea of the “anti-nationalist,” an ambivalent “chiasmatic” figure, who opens up the space between nations and peoples and points the way to “a new transnational culture,” a decentered culture based on inclusion rather than exclusion of marginality.[4] On a more economic level, transnational capitalist corporations have extended across “networks of capital flows, technology flows, population flows and the like” hailing a new transnational global subject.[5] Arjun Appadurai theorised that globalisation ushered in the postnational era in which the nation-state becomes an obsolete formation amidst global flows of capital, communications, peoples, and culture.[6] For Jürgen Habermas, globalisation poses problems that can no longer be solved within the framework of the nation-state. He predicted that “the hollowing-out of the sovereignty of the nation-state will continue” requiring political action on a “supranational basis.”[7] Transnational culture, the postnational era, and supranational action speak to the new borderless zones of the global era giving rise to the new transnational subjects who inhabit its spaces.

This increasingly dominant theoretical paradigm serves as a background to this article, which is interested in the tensions that arise from the interplay of national and transnational subjectivities in contemporary Europe. On the one hand, theoretically, the transnational subject who embodies hybridity and difference supersedes the national subject. But on the other hand, cultural representations that address the lived experience of this shift show powerful and residual nationalisms at work. I examine cultural representations of a perceived confrontation between the national and transnational through an analysis of German-language theatre between 1994 and 2004. The chosen dramatic pieces are responsive to the dramatic increase in migration that followed German reunification and the lifting of the Iron Curtain in central and eastern Europe in the late 1980s. I focus on theatre, more than any other form of cultural representation, because it will be seen to be especially responsive to the confrontation of the national and transnational in the contemporary spaces of the old established nation-states. Indeed, the German stage bears a metonymic relation to the nation-state, which subsidises it, as in the part for the whole. Theatre is obviously disposed towards dramatic turns in the social sphere, and it represents those turns dialogically, as in the conflict between opposing groups. A further reason is that theatre’s use of the live body to represent the verbally or theoretically constituted subject makes it, therefore, a site of intervention in discourse, and potentially, a disruptive political force. This latter aspect is especially evident in performances that take the contentious issue of migration from the stage onto the streets and among the people.

The productions examined in this article – Anna Langhoff’s Transit Heimat/gedeckte tische (Baracke, Deutsches Theater, 1994),[8] Heiner Müller’s Germania 3 Gespenster am Toten Mann (Ghosts at Dead Man) (Berliner Ensemble, 1996),[9] and Christoph Schlingensief’s Bitte Liebt Österreich (Please Love Austria) (Vienna, 2000)[10] – show that the opening of Europe’s eastern borders and the subsequent increase in cross-border movement create both a resistant force in the form of anti-foreigner sentiment in the wealthy host nation and dissent among its marginalised ethnic groups that is also, paradoxically, national in origin. Transit Heimat/gedeckte tische (The Table Laid), written and performed in the early years of reunification, is my primary example. It is the little-known but important dramatic precedent for later more provocative German-language treatments of the theme of refugees and cross-border mobility such as Christoph Schlingensief’s Bitte Liebt Österreich, made for the Vienna International Festival in July 2000, only months after the installation of Austria’s new coalition government that included the right-wing anti-immigration Freedom Party (FPÖ). Eastern European Guest Workers find their counterpart in Heiner Müller’s post-reunification theatre work Germania 3 Ghosts at Dead Man (1996). While focusing primarily on the fictional world created in Transit Heimat/gedeckte tische, I argue that all three works thematise the downside of transnational or postnational subjectivities as experienced by the new Europe’s poor and powerless. However they refrain from reasserting a nationalist perspective; rather, they highlight the consequences of the uneven reception of postnationalism among European subjects. In danger of falling into an underclass of stateless and itinerant welfare recipients, the ethnic subjects in these three very different theatrical works display the trauma of transition from the old communist regimes to the neoliberal economies of western Europe.

In Langhoff’s play, the experience of cross-border connection and multi-cultural Europe is not a happy hybrid. As “Ljudmila from Ukraine” explains in her halting German:

Ljudmila: Was für ein Deutschland: Jugoslawen, Rumänen, Russen, Polen, Juden. (Lacht.) Sogar Juden. In Deutschland! Alle miteinander wie Katzen in einem Sack. (9)


Ljudmila: What a Germany. Yugoslavs. Romanians. Russians. Poles. Jews. (Laughs) Even Jews. In Germany. All lumped together. Cats in a sack. (150)

Yet, Germany was always an immigrant society.[11] The question of national identity and culture resurfaces with reunification just as Europeanisation and globalisation challenge the future of national societies.[12] Regina Römhild, in a previous issue of Transit notes “the contradiction between the nation-state’s claim to power and the reality of migration that has for long surpassed and rendered fictional this claim.”[13] Müller’s two Germania pieces, Germania Death in Berlin (1956-1971) and Germania 3 Ghosts at Dead Man (1996), work with layers of history and mythology in collage-based theatrical works that deconstruct the seamless linearity of foundational myths. Kurthen reminds us that cultural diversity, not homogeneity, lies at the heart of the Germanic nation. It was “for centuries a land that experienced vast inmigrations and outmigrations contributing to religious, ethnic, and cultural diversity.”[14] There have always been, despite Ljudmila’s surprise, “cats in the sack.” These include the early movements of the Germanic tribes, followed by the Huns, Goths and Vikings of the first millennium, the Slavic tribes of the thirteenth century, Jews from Eastern Europe and Russia, French Huguenots, and later immigrant workers from Italy, Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Russia.[15] In a syntactically pointed statement that deconstructs the romantic idea of the nation as based on a common history, culture, religion, and language, Kurthen refers to Germany as “the territories in Central Europe that in the nineteenth century became the German nation.”[16]

Focusing the context further, the process of Europeanisation describes the particular given situation of these productions. Acknowledging that Europeanisation, like globalisation, is a contestable term, this article draws largely on Helen Wallace to refer to it as: first, the expansion of “cross-border connections” among European nations; second, the increasing awareness of Europe as a “regional grouping” with a relation to globalisation; and, third, a multiplicity of legal, monetary, territorial, governmental and cultural issues and their management. The article also accepts Wallace’s conceptualisation of Europeanisation as an umbrella term that is greater than the European Union that on this understanding becomes one “transnational” institution among others such as NATO.[17]

In addition to these broad defining features, Europeanisation appeals to transnational and postnationalist sensibilities in contemporary Europe. In Germany, where nationalism continues to be haunted by the memory of national socialism, Europeanisation represents a progressive alternative.[18] In this respect, pro-Europeanisation takes on a leftist orientation, as in a mode of renovated Marxist Internationalism realigned now to fit the peace and disarmament, environmental and poverty issues of the contemporary era. The plays examined here also belong to related emergent culture of Europeanisation. In this case, the generation of artists and intellectuals, born largely, but not exclusively, in the 1960s and 1970s, has given shape and form to cross-border connections, transnational subjectivities, and postnationalism in their work. Many of these artists embrace but also offer a critique of Europeanisation and globalisation by denouncing resurgent Right wing nationalist movements and drawing attention to the unequal social relations that attend the changing borders of the post-communist period. The works cited above by German theatre artists Anna Langhoff and Christoph Schlingensief exhibit these tendencies, as does the leading figure of late twentieth century German theatre, Heiner Müller. These artists engage with Europeanisation in their work, exposing the pressure of the transition from a national to transnational identity. Wallace makes the important qualification, which becomes starkly apparent in the performances analysed here, of the unequal experience of transnationalism between western Europe and the countries of central and eastern Europe. While western Europe enjoys “the richest and most comfortable experience of actively shaping and managing cross-border relations,” central and eastern Europe, separated for forty-five years by the Iron Curtain, has a disrupted history and much less of a determining role.[19] Wallace is mindful, therefore, of unequal access to places at the European table, a point that becomes the central metaphor in The Table Laid.

Transit Heimat/gedeckte tische – The Table Laid

Set in the post-reunification and post-communist 1990s, The Table Laid is formally divided into 4 scenes. The genre is best described as critical realism, comprised of dramatic constructions of dialogue and action among recognisable social types. The dialogic exchanges, of which the work is principally composed, convey its dialectical treatment of questions of nationalism, migration, ethnicity, and culture. Langhoff’s stated preference is for theatre to “initiate discussion,” and her use of naturalism was never intended to create “conversation theatre for the bourgeoisie.’’[20] The play concerns a group of central and eastern European immigrants who reside in a hostel while waiting for permits to remain in Germany. The immigrants’ stories bear a direct relation to the experiences of the more than a million ethnic Germans and eastern Europeans from the former Soviet bloc nations who arrived in Germany in the 1990s.[21] The collapse of communism and the break-up of the Soviet Union saw eastern Europeans streaming across newly opened borders to join the multi-lateral movement of the world’s poor “toward the most wealthy and privileged areas of the globe.”[22] The West German economic miracle, together with a liberal approach to refugees, made it the primary destination for eastern Europeans escaping contracting and dormant economies.[23] As one of the refugees says, “Hier wird die Geschichte gemacht und entschieden, die Zukunft” (25) [Here history is made and decided. The future (169)]. The westwards movement of people also follows the logic that the western European nation “was posed as the one and only active vehicle that could deliver modernity and development.”[24] With the old state-run manufacturing plants liquidated in the early 1990s, Langhoff’s immigrant characters no longer belong to an industrial working class, the community, or state that went with it. The enforced fluidity of Europe’s labour force is a facet of Europeanisation that is demonstrated in each of the performances discussed in this article. The Table Laid demonstrates, with the breadth of vision typical of women writers, that the new historical condition of post-communist Europe places new and unforseen demands on social policy and welfare systems, and on family and personal relationships. In this mobile European culture of the present, the table in the title is a gathering point. It draws attention to the enduring material needs of subjects. It is an affirmative metaphor for the capacity to recreate community and cope with difference, and a timely warning that authorities are not meeting social and familial needs.

The dramaturgical action consists primarily of the entry and exits of refugee families to and from the communal kitchen of the hostel and the dialogic exchanges that take place as they meet each other. This occurs mostly at meal times around the preparation and eating of food. So constructed, the dramaturgy divides along gender lines with the more static and focused action of the women engaged in food preparation, and the more active and erratic behaviour of the men, who posture, stride, lecture, and harass each other. The dialogic exchanges give way at times to monologues, which function as “narratives of originary and initial subjectivity”[25] and reflect on broader questions of politics and fate.

The condition of the refugee subject is represented as time-rich and space-poor in a volatile mix that increases anxiety and sets off explosive tempers. Without work-permits or money, there is little to do to pass the time, which places the inhabitants passively at odds with the affluent time-poor culture of late capitalism. There is little scope for what Hardt and Negri have envisioned as the “creative capacities” of immigrants, that is, the potential for creative social activity contained in the knowledge, languages, and skills they bring with them to a new country.[26] Rather, in Langhoff’s envisioned scenario, central and eastern Europe’s poor are a wasted resource, left to indulge in negative emotions and behaviour, accusing each other of perceived and actual slights, indulging in drunkenness and melancholia and memorialising the past. Existing in a “transit Heimat,” a liminal, transitory state of being, which is neither one thing nor another, transience is traumatic. They experience marginality as a loss of identity and rights. To compensate, each national considers him- or herself superior to those considered further down the pecking order of nations. Wadek considers Poland’s shared border with Germany proof of his “almost” German status, “Halbe Polen ist fast Deutsch, wir bibchen verwandt, bibchen” (28) [Half Poland is nearly German. We bit related. (172)] and like the Russians, considers his claims for residency superior to others. Critic, Marion Hirsch, responded positively to the ironic portrayal of competing degrees of Germanness:

Spannend an dieser Situation ist, dab jeder den anderen als Ausländer beschimpft und glaubt, er sei ‘besser’ und ‘deutscher’ als die anderen. Alle wenden die rassistischen Klischees gegeneinander, ich glaube, damit läbt sich wunderbar die Absurdität dieser Klischees zeigen.[27]

What is exciting in this situation is that they all call each other foreigners and each one believes he is ‘better’ and ‘more German’ than the others. All forms of racist clichés are pitted against each other. I believe that through this, the wonderful absurdity of the clichés is shown.

Langhoff thereby extends the reach of German-based anti-foreigner sentiment to include the Soviet bloc countries whose opened borders have now, belatedly, exposed their territories to the movement of peoples across Europe. Since that time, Zaborowska et al. have reported that racism is indeed an issue in post-socialist countries. They write: “the struggle against resurgent racism and xenophobia in the former Soviet-bloc countries entails nothing less than a revolutionary remapping of the post-communist mind.”[28] Fear of the other and rejection of difference crosses not only geographical borders but also ideological lines from the overt racism of neo-Nazis to the more implicit anti-foreigner sentiment of centrist liberal democracies. German anti-foreigner sentiment in The Table Laid is shown in the play to take tacit and overt forms. It is inscribed in the meanness and inadequacy of the migrant hostel and in the attitudes of the inhabitants of villages and towns where shopkeepers refuse to accept the refugees’ vouchers and, more dangerously, in slogans – “Asylanten raus!” (5) [Foreigners out! (145)] painted on the hostel’s walls.

Into this bare and enervating environment steps the chronically under-resourced social worker with naïve hopes for a happy multiculturalism. Frau Mertel (that now rhymes with the current German Chancellor, Angela Merkel) is played by Käthe Reichel as a dutiful, well-meaning and matronly woman to whom all the characters look for salvation. She is the only German national in the play and is ill-equipped for the task she is given by a distant foreign office. Yet her presence on stage as the helpless German unsettles the audience. As one critic noted: “Doch am meisten nervt die deutsche Sozialarbeiterin mit ihrer gutgläubigen Naivität”[29] [Most annoying is the German social worker with her well-meaning naivety]. Frau Mertel initiates a banquet project and secures the funding for a communal feast of national dishes. There is some communalism among the female migrants as they compare recipes and cook on stage and some transnational enjoyment of global pop music, but by the time the table is laid for the banquet, the agent of multiculturalism will be dead in the woods surrounding the hostel. Her body will be carried in by the men and laid on the table amongst the national dishes, transforming the table from a source of life-giving food into a deathbed.

The European table, symbolically laid with a mixture of national dishes, is not yet ready for communal supping. Its function within the affirmative processes of Europeanisation is derailed by narrowly conceived nationalism. The evidence for this is a note left on the body. The cut out letters read:



The as-yl-um sl-ag gets this. And all oth-er red cu-nts. German-y for the Ger-mans. Sieg Heil! (188)

The accused, however, will be a young Polish man; the accuser will be the young Roma woman with whom he has just danced in the moments before the body is brought in; and the vital evidence pointing to the neo-Nazi murderers will be concealed by another foreigner. In the end, there are two dead bodies: the older German woman and the young Pole, who on his first night in prison commits suicide in his cell.

Langhoff’s decision to have the social worker and not the foreigner murdered by neo-Nazis and, in an additional twist, to make the foreigner complicit in a race-based hate-crime, complicates the moral and ethical issues. The circulation of complicity, guilt, and shame among the hostel dwellers blurs the conventional binaries of self and other, good foreigner and bad German. The scenario represents a twisting of the liberal trope of the foreigner as victim, to the more contentious proposition that the German is the victim too. As one critic noted, making the German the victim in this immigrant drama has a detrimental effect, but this may be a short-sighted criticism.[30] Anti-foreigner violence is re-directed at the principles of tolerance and multiculturalism that are embodied in the defenceless social worker. Already within the hostel, her attempts to spread an understanding of the socio-economic basis of racism and her defence of postwar Germany as a tolerant democratic country is met with ridicule among the refugees. Someone there has already painted the words Rote Sau in red on the back of her coat. Soft leftists like Frau Mertel are lumped together with the migrants’ contempt for authoritarian communism. In this scenario, the less affluent confront liberal social democracy’s failure to address European and global inequality.

The production at the Baracke at the Deutsches Theater, Berlin, in 1994 was directed by Sewan Latchinian and designed by Meentje Nielsen. The performance contained some significant changes to the published text, which I will discuss later, however, by and large the text remained the same. The pressure-cooker of forced communalism and lack of privacy in the “bare and dirty” refugee-hostel kitchen setting is emphasised by the fluorescent stage lighting that bares down on the inhabitants (145). The institutional tables and chairs that line the bare wall, the large upstage fridge, and the caterer’s-size downstage stove underscore the impersonal condition of statelessness. Broken lockers line another wall, and there is frequent stealing and hoarding of food. As one critic observed, “Die notwendigen naturalistischen Details werden bedient, ohne den eigentlichen, den realistischen Konflikt zu überdecken”[31] [The necessary naturalistic details are attended to without obscuring the actual, realistic conflict]. The meanness of the hostel conditions is aptly communicated through the iconic institutional fittings, which stand as mute witness to the deprivations of foreignness and serve as a background to the conflicts that drive the dialogue. It is not pretty theatre, and the stage refuses the spectatorial pleasures of line and light. The translation of the text to the stage rejects a more theatrical scenic design, which might for example give greater metaphoric weight to the table for a representation of the poverty of the space and its anti-aesthetic character. It critically reflects the meanness of institutional regulations that set minimum standards of care: minimum spatial allowance, minimal furniture, restricted food vouchers, maintenance, comfort, welfare, and well-being.

In this respect, the mise-en-scène emphasises the containment of people and the privations endured while the wheels of “the abstract machine of national sovereignty,” as Hardt and Negri have said of the modern sovereign nation, go through their bureaucratic motions.[32] The set draws attention to the global phenomena of the refugee hostel and its inhabitants who are clearly identified as economic and political refugees whose desire for a better life is balanced uneasily against both their fear of German xenophobia and ambivalent memories of home. It refutes the promise of a seamless transition to transnationalism and shows that in the face of a hostile reception in the new country, immigrants struggle with their foreignness.

Transnational subjectivity in Germania 3 Gespenster am Toten Mann (Germania 3 Ghosts at Dead Man)

This view was driven to extremity by Langhoff’s mentor and friend, Heiner Müller, in Germania 3 Gespenster am Toten Mann (Germania 3 Ghosts at Dead Man) that was staged at the Berliner Ensemble in 1996. The play deals primarily with German history from the 1920s to the present, but a scene entitled Der Gastarbeiter, involving a Croatian Guest Worker, offers a harrowing view of the identifications and disidentifications of migrant workers. The scene, which is in the form of a monologue, was later restaged in Germania Stücke, a collage of Müller’s texts at the Deutsches Theater, in 2004.[33] In the monologue, a speaker designated as “the Croatian” tells us he is a farmer who, after working in Germany for two years, visits his wife and two children who have remained at home in the farmhouse in the hills of Croatia. Emphasising the commodities – the car, the suit – that “I have bought in Germany,” he tells us that, on arrival, he puts on the farmer’s clothes not worn since he travelled on the overcrowded train “smelling from the sweat of fear of lands foreign.” After sleeping in his bed and making love to his wife, he gets up in the morning and has breakfast with his family. Then he kills them.

After breakfast I go to the tool shed, take the axe that’s still hanging from the same hook, and slay my wife with it. With my hands that have worked for two years at the conveyor belt in Germany I kill my children.[34]

At the conclusion of the monologue, he recounts how he locks the door of the house, throws away the key, puts on his German suit and tie, and drives back to Germany. The brutal murders appear as a solution to the multiple problems of migration: the emotional weight of home and the estrangement from it, the promise of wealth but the duty to provide for others at home, the lure of a new beginning, and the demands of past responsibilities.

Two contrasting stagings of the scene offer insights. At the Deutsches Theater in 2004, a middle-aged male actor wearing a brown suit plays the Croatian. He delivers the speech in an urgent, unpunctuated staccato voice, with just the suggestion of suppressed hysteria. At the Berliner Ensemble in 1996, with Martin Wuttke directing, the Croatian stands naked as the lights come up on a bare stage. He carries the axe in one hand and a black suit with a white shirt on a coat hanger in the other. His distance from his besuited German identity is made clear. He stands downstage and addresses the audience in a soft, inflectionless voice. The white naked body is given further emphasis as the actor playing the character stands on the black half of a stage divided into white and black. The two contrasting theatrical treatments of the textual material hinge on the image of the Croatian as a naked and as a clothed man; as an abstracted and a naturalistic image. In the Berliner Ensemble performance, nakedness suggests vulnerability but also the classical image of European man, luminous, yet deathly in his whiteness. The man in the brown suit is banal and local, a petty bourgeois ashamed of his past, unsympathetic and dismissible. The stripped-down image offers a more powerful critique of the problem of transnational subjectivity, through evoking a more tragic effect of pity and fear: pity for the subject caught up in the latest wave of European migration and fear of the violent processes of identification and disidentification with home. Neither staging shows the murder of the family, preferring instead to emphasise the displaced subjectivity of the Guest Worker.

Written two years after The Table Laid, Müller’s narrative fragment speaks of the condition of foreignness and the effects of difference, and it warns of a grim future for the hostel inhabitants. It suggests that for the peoples of the former Soviet bloc nations, transnational subjectivity is a liability that negatively marks one as other to the capitalist west. The possibilities of hybridity and globality pale beside the Croatian farmer’s desperate need to “look like a German.”[35] He would rather amputate than celebrate the differences of class and ethnicity that connect him to a Second World nation. This is deemed sufficient cause for the patriarch to disavow the family and spill the blood that ties him to an unwanted national identity. Müller’s take on the immigration debate critiques the triumph of materialism, its demand for a rigorous uniformity, and the price it extracts for a share of its wealth. Langhoff’s play will also move in its final scenes towards an investigation of the ethical and moral cost of the anti-poverty ticket to the west.

Border-crossing and anti-foreigner sentiment

Langhoff also utilises the capacities of the expository monologue to have her characters recount narratives of illegal border crossings, corrupt officials, crooked migration agents, beatings, and abuse. Not far inside the German border, skinheads attack a Roma family:

Anna: Sie schreien: “Raus! Raus! Ausländer Raus! Weg!“ Wir nichts machen, alle Angst. Aber die schlagt uns. Brüllen laut, ganz laut, mein Schwester blutet . . . Junge Männer ohne Haare halten lange Stock, alle an Füben Soldatenstiefel, sie lachen, treiben, schubsen mich. Polizei kommt spät, kommt ganz langsam . . . mit Gummihandschuhe angefabt. (10)


Anna: They shout: “Out! Out! Foreigners Out! Fuck off!” We do nothing. All fear. But they beat us. Shouting loud. Big loud. My sister bleeds . . . Young men with no hair holding stick. All on feets soldier boots. They laugh. Pushing. Shoving. Police come late. Come very slowly . . . touch us with rubber gloves . . . (151)

Media accounts suggest that anti-foreigner sentiment intensified in Germany following the influx of migrants in the early 1990s. Stories circulated that Turks and others from the east would work for less wages than Germans. These tensions came to a head in Germany in the hostel burnings of 1992 for which East German skinheads and neo-Nazis were held largely responsible. Johannes Birringer has linked outbreaks of German anti-foreigner sentiment to similar right-wing populist movements in France, Belgium, and Italy, and race riots in Britain. They point to a larger “crisis of identification” in which the “inherent contradictions of liberal democracy become visible.”[36] That is to say, neoliberal ideology does not transform into social justice. Langhoff’s 1994 play taps directly into this contradiction but it refuses to paint the foreigner as the passive victim. It eschews a western liberal perspective that homogenises the refugee as a single identity by giving over the stage to conflicting and divergent refugee voices that speak back to liberal audiences.

Transit issues in Christoph Schlingensief’s Bitte Liebt Österreich [Please Love Austria]

By way of contrast, German theatre director Christoph Schlingensief’s Bitte Liebt Österreich (Vienna, 2000) is an installation and performance event that took place over six days in June 2000 at Herbert von Karajan-Platz in Vienna next to the Viennese Opera House. Its controlling idea is the adaptation of the Big Brother concept to the question of asylum seekers. On the first day of the performance, Schlingensief introduces to a curious public the twelve asylum seekers who enter the shipping container set-up where they will live until their eviction. The contestants are an assemblage of political and economic refugees who come from either Second or Third World economies, troubled states, or authoritarian regimes: Iraq, Kosovo, Albania, Kurdistan, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and China.[37] The winner will receive a cash prize and the chance to marry an Austrian volunteer and apply for citizenship. Above the container is a large sign, “Ausländer Raus,” that causes great distress among spectators, some of whom pull it down in an act of resistance during the week. Nevertheless Schlingensief’s people replace it. Alongside the sign are the blue flags of Austria’s far right Freedom Party (FPÖ) and the logo of the tabloid newspaper, Die Kronenzeitung. Each day Austrians are invited by the megaphone-wielding Schlingensief, live in the square and online, to evict two asylum seekers with the evictions forming the dramatic climax of each day’s action.[38] The performance is a multimedia event, performed live in real time, simulcast on CCTV and the Internet, and filmed for a documentary that was released on DVD in English and German and is available through Schlingensief’s personal website.[39] The documentary shows that each day the container draws hundreds of bystanders who stand around arguing about Austria’s treatment of foreigners, arrogant Germans, and other matters. The location of the event takes the contentious issue of foreigners out of the theatre and onto the square where the drama is played out as a performative event unfolding in the here and now of the present. Set in the square onto which the Viennese Opera House opens, it confronts the classical theatre of old Europe with its radical offspring. As one fellow artist from Berlin observed, “It was a meeting of the upper society from all over the world”[40] with the issues of the day.

Aimed at the German-speaking public, the performance is also intended for English-speaking audiences. The documentary is subtitled, and Schlingensief’s website is available in German and English. The bilingual performance, documentation, promotional material, website, and its intense interactivity with spectators, suggest Schlingensief’s political and commercial awareness of the heteroglossia of the contemporary arts and its global arena. His highly visual presentation, along with the familiarity of the Big Brother format, speaks for itself, offering multiple entry sites for a number of possible language groups both in German-speaking countries and online. Its use of live action, media, interactivity, megaphone addresses, and billboards takes the performance outside the realm of theatre and places it in the realm of the event.

This active performative intervention in the treatment of asylum seekers hails and exposes the mostly latent anti-foreigner tendencies of liberal western society. It is a radically conceived critique of the Austrian Freedom Party’s anti-immigration policy and a provocative intervention in Austrian politics. Schlingensief’s ethnicised subjects are presented as objects of the largely western European gaze. Just as in Big Brother, people observe the daily routine through peepholes in the container and on CCTV. The participants’ actions are not unlike those that take place in The Table Laid: they eat, talk, pass the time, have German lessons, and exercise. Absent are the set debates among the participants, but there is the same sense of waiting: waiting for permits or waiting for eviction. Schlingensief’s objectification of the asylum seeker critically confronts spectators with the way in which foreigners are considered different and are treated accordingly. Indeed, the piece relies on the ambiguity of the performers’ identities. While biographies are available on the web, we are never sure if the participants are performers, asylum seekers, or both. In this respect, Schlingensief never allows the asylum seeker to have a voice. He merely invites the spectator to look, choose, or evict based on visual appearance, a brief bio, and the whim of the person with the power to vote. It is a model of power rather than an investigation of the personal narrative.

This objective approach differs from the perspective taken in The Table Laid. Langhoff composes personalised refugee narratives that offer insights into the tensions, anxieties, conflicts and unmet desires of western Europe’s central and eastern neighbours. Its major difference from its more radical counterpart Bitte Liebt Österreich becomes its defining feature. That is, Langhoff’s retention of dramatic language, which ties her to a naturalistic form, allows her to give form and language to newly self-realising European subjects whose encounter with capitalist western Europe is recent and fresh. It puts the narratives of western Europe’s minorities on the national stage. Schlingensief, on the other hand, undertakes a different but related task, targeting western Europeans and forcing them to think about the immigration policies of the governments they elect. Bitte Liebt Österreich brings together the resources of the media, the internet, and live performance to create a more paradigmatic representation of contemporary politics. Langhoff’s play demonstrates the enduring value of language-based theatre for Europe’s marginal, transitory, and otherwise spoken-for subjects.

The disarticulations of transnational subjectivity

In a carefully considered but much criticised decision by the playwright, the dialogue is written in broken German, or Pidgin-German:

Anna: Nicht gut, nicht du. Vielleicht mit uns essen? Ist gut Suppe. Scharf, (Lacht.) sehr scharf. (6)


Anna: Not good. Not you. With us eating? Is good soup. Hot. (Laughs.) Very hot. (147)

Langhoff has said, “What can be misunderstood as broken German is in fact a theatrical choice that I sought consciously.”[41] Her intention is to represent linguistic deprivation or disarticulation as one of the defining conditions of the refugee or foreigner. She also acknowledges the danger of both infantilising refugees and reducing them to stereotypes. For her, these are quite separate issues. She represents infantilisation of refugees as not a matter of their preschooler language skills, but as imposed by ethnicity and social class. David Barnett, in a discussion of Franz Xaver Kroetz’s extensive use of Bavarian dialect in the 1992 Wende-piece, Ich bin das Volk, identifies dialect as the major realistic feature of the work that also “goes beyond a naturalistic technique.” This occurs as “the tension between standard language and dialect” and points to the “dialectical relationship between social class and variety in spoken language.” Barnett claims that Kroetz shows how dialect “imprisons inarticulate members of society,” while the capacity to move between standard speech and dialect exposes “socio-political expediency.” Barnett concludes that “dialect is no longer a token of a realist aesthetic, it actively calls the characters’ use of language into question.”[42] Applied to the use of Pidgin-German by Langhoff, the foreigners’ German is a constant reminder of the problem of being in transit. Their attempts to speak German are not the same as the educated classes or the tourists with their phrase books because their language is marked by their identities as refugees and immigrants.

The question of ethnic stereotyping is also related to the language issue. Langhoff has acknowledged the danger of the text dredging up latent racism. “The text is of course in danger of being abused by both the director and the actors, who may feel a compulsion to portray stage foreigners.”[43] Actors can, she says, “miss the target” which is to represent, sincerely, the facticity of difference without resorting to artifice.

To counteract the construction of stage foreigners, Langhoff writes monologues for several of the characters that are understood to be delivered in their own language and communicated to German audiences as High German. In one such example, Galina, from Azerbaijan, speaks Pidgin-German with Vedran, a Serb, before she changes register to High German to deliver a monologue about her native country while Vedran, no longer the addressee and appearing not to listen, falls asleep. Galina’s monologue takes place as a quiet moment of reflection about home and family, which she compares to her current situation. She dreams of the old village: “erinnere ich mich an eine niedrige Decke aus Lehm, an warmes Fladenbrot” (16) [I remember a thin covering of clay. Warm pita. (158)]. In a manner reminiscent of Brecht’s “Of Poor BB”, she mythologises her past, “gezeugt in der Stille des Dorfes, geboren auf dem Weg, ich, aus Kiew, überquerte den Kaukasus in meiner Mutter” (16) [Conceived in a village’s still. Born on the way. Me from the city of Kiew. Crossing the Kaukasus in mother’s belly. (159)]. In the deprived conditions of the hostel, Galina is unable to think beyond “the narratives of original and initial subjectivity” that provide her with comforting, if melancholic, memories.

This melancholic vision of home is deeply embedded in an originary subjectivity that is linked in this scene to the mother’s body, the motherland, and the mother tongue. These memories are a line of flight from the hostel to the affective domain where the smell of warm pita bread is comforting. The poetics of memory are linked to the mother tongue because they cannot be satisfactorily communicated in a halting second language. Galina’s retreat to memory, homeland, and ancestry is undercut in the discussion that follows this scene and countered by a pragmatic realism.

Home? A coat of holes: postnationalist perspectives and pragmatic individualism

Pjotr Pajewskij, the Russian grandson of a German émigré, stakes his claim for residency on the Blood Law that based German citizenship on lineage (Abstammungsnation) rather than land of birth. Performed by Horst Lebinsky as a Checkovian-styled, down-at-heel intellectual, he is tall, middle-aged and smartly dressed. His German is fluent, which enables him to lecture the others on contemporary economics and politics. Langhoff constructs her characters by means of the attitudes they adopt to one another. With a German grandfather Pajewskij considers himself superior to the others; Wadek, the Pole, curses the Roma because to him their presence reflects his own fallen state. As Brecht wrote of this mode of dramaturgical construction: “the realm of attitudes adopted by the characters toward one another . . . physical attitude, tone of voice and facial expression are all determined by the social gest: the characters are cursing, flattering, instructing one another and so on.”[44] This gestic use of language and the conscious playing-to-type antics of the refugees offer complex insights into attitudes to migration and to being-in-transit within foreigner communities in the early 1990s.

In Pajewskij, Langhoff gives voice to a pragmatic individualism that takes a postnationalist perspective. Memories of home, he says, are a “rash” that should be scratched from the skin. There are “no memories…only circumstances” and when things are bad, memory cannot help. Eastern Europe is “a medieval land” with “old values” and “laws . . . too useless to miss” (169). Nations, he tells the other hostel-dwellers, are no more communities bound together with social glue, a common culture and a history, than they are governments, or more accurately, the policies of the governments that run them. Belonging is a matter of being where you can survive the best, and if Germany provides this opportunity then he has no longing for some other place.

In this European hostel, pragmatic individualism and postnationalist tendencies have stepped into the ideological vacuum left after the collapse of communism. Evidence of the dangers of resurgent nationalism is also present in the form of traumatised Balkan refugees. In a noisy argument in the kitchen, Pajewskij cuts through the traditional associations of family, home and nation:

Pjotr: Heimat? Was für ein Unsinn! Meine Familie, ja, die achte ich, schätze sie. Meine Eltern haben immer versucht, mich vorbildlich zu erziehen, haben mich verwöhnt. Aber dann wechselt ein Generalsekretär in Kreml, ändert sich irgendwas, and wir kamen wieder in schlechte Situation, wurden verleumdet, arm. Und warum? Wegen der Heimat. Sie behandelt ihre Opfer, wie es ihr gerade pabt, sie verrät jeden. Heimat. (Lacht.) Eine Mantel aus Löcher. (26)


Pjotr: Home? What nonsense! My family. Yes. I respect them. Treasure them. My parents have always tried to give me all they could. Be a good example. But then a new General Secretary moves into the Kremlin. Things change. And we were again slandered. Poverty stricken. And why? Because my home handles its victims as it suits it. They betray everyone. Home. (Laughs.) A coat of holes. (169)

In the final scene it is revealed that Pajewskij has concealed the note left by Frau Mertel’s murderers. The ethical centre of the play is now set out. Should he, as his wife Ljudmila demands, take this vital piece of evidence, that would acquit Wadek, to the police, or is it now too late and possibly self-incriminating? In this morally charged atmosphere, Langhoff holds to her decision to have the characters speak in the halting and ungrammatical German, the Pidgin-German that so annoyed the critics.

The effect draws attention to the displacements of immigration that render the speaker inarticulate and with the loss of agency that entails. Ljudmila’s efforts to communicate in a second language emphasise the sheer difficulty of the task and is convincingly shown by the actor Eva Weissenborn. Her efforts speak not only of the struggles of immigrants in a new country but of the desire that drives the speech act: the desire for justice, for moral rectitude and a clear conscience, for example. As she says in halting German:

Ljudmila: . . . Jemand wird genommen von Polizei und dich kümmert nichts. Da ist ein Brief, du steckst ihn ein, und siehst zu, siehst zu vielleicht eine Unrecht, eine Unschuldiger vielleicht, und es ist dir egal. (40)


Ljudmila: . . . Someone is taken by the Police and you don’t care. There is a note. You put it away. And watch. Watch an injustice. Maybe an innocent man. And you don’t care. (188)

She then tries to articulate the connection between immigration and the values one can afford in a more affluent country:

Ljudmila: Wollten wir nur eine andere Landschaft? Wollten wir nicht anders leben auch, anders werden, anders sein. (42)


Ljudmila: Did we only want another country? Didn’t we want to live different. Grow different. Be different. (189)

The scene draws attention to the speech act, to the mechanics of speech, the struggle to create meaning, and the problem of miscommunication in a way not normally possible in naturalistic dialogue. In this way, the play’s dramaturgy exceeds the limits of naturalism, calling its own inadequacy into question and foregrounding the mediation of translation. In a moment of compassion with the dead social worker Ljudmila claims, “Sie braucht eine Rache” (42) [she needs revenge (189)] before the fear that she too is implicated in the concealment takes over: “Dieser Brief und ich . . . Alles ist verknotet . . . ” (45) [This note and me . . . It’s all knotted . . . (193)]. The mixed metaphors here give further emphasis to the asymmetry of translation.

Pajewskij, meanwhile, not without a sense of shame and more than a little fear of his wife’s moral condemnation, justifies his inaction on the grounds of self-interest. His decision appears to be endorsed when their residency permit arrives as he speaks. Almost immediately after, Anna enters to announce that Wadek has hanged himself in his cell. “Er ist tod. Aufgehängt” (46) [He is dead. Hanged. (193)]. Ljudmila sarcastically congratulates her husband, referring to his shame now as “den Eintrittspreis hast du schon bezahlt” (46) [the entrance money you have paid] (194). Then suddenly, she changes her mind. She decides to remain silent. The moral cost of a better life, the fact that it comes at the expense of the other who suffers, is made clear. When Pajewskij checks with her about the note, she says, “Nein. Den verbrennst du. Ja? (Pause.) Nein Pjotr, es ist gut, wir wollen doch besser leben” (47) [No. You burn it. Yes…No Pjotr. It is good. We want a better life. (195)].

The Deutsches Theater substitutes a different ending from the written text. Langhoff’s ending calls for the reappearance of Wadek, with the rope-wound visible on the skin of his neck, and the bruised and bloody Mertel, who together dance as a bridal pair while the inhabitants of the hostel look on throwing confetti. This macabre dance of death creates a distance from which the events of the play can be retrospectively viewed. In performance, however, this ending is substituted for an alternative. Anna, who has pointed the finger of accusation at Wadek, and has now brought news of his suicide, sits alone in the kitchen. She stuffs into her mouth the cake that Wadek has brought as his contribution to the banquet. The lights go down as she stuffs more and more cake into her mouth, crying mutely. The two endings offer different readings. The text, with its dance of death, links the fate of the characters to each other. The performance leaves us with the individual, alone with her guilt and her grief, cut off from the social world.

At first glance, the play’s earnest treatment of the refugee problem: the staged expository speeches, the stereotyped ethnicities, the halting ungrammatical German, and the dull stage design all point to an exhausted social realist aesthetic. Not surprisingly, critical reception was mixed. But such a literal reading, as I have argued, does not heed the techniques of estrangement and gestus of which the work is also constructed and through which it makes its critique of the operations of entrenched nationalism on the one hand and the continuing inequalities of European and globalised economies on the other. The Table Laid can be read as a dramatisation or intensification of the processes of Europeanisation. It raises the ghosts of German xenophobia for a cosmopolitan Berlin audience and, through its English translation, to a wider audience, which is itself grappling with its own governments’ treatment of foreigners. In this respect, it offers a staged debate about the ambivalent status of national identities, the issue of transnationalism, and the emergence of postnationalism. It brings the absent immigrant voice to the table.


This article has investigated themes of mobility and transnationalism in three works of German-language theatre, set within the broader context of Europeanisation in postcommunist Europe. In using theatrical examples, it suggests that the stage itself becomes a charged metonym for the nation, a space in which national life is heightened and defamiliarised. And while the idea of the world as a stage is an old one, the idea of the stage as the nation focuses new attention on cultural representations that identify and enact the conditions in which the nation-state negotiates processes of Europeanisation. In the case of immigrant, asylum seeker, and refugee theatre, actors’ embodiments of the foreign other make the intricacies of these negotiations visible and palpable.

The critical pressure points of Europeanisation as evidenced in the productions are: that nationalism remains a powerful residual force, that transnationalism is a stigmatised and bitter experience for marginalised ethnic subjects, and that mobility follows the path from poorer to wealthier nations. In the fictional world of The Table Laid, the newly opened central and eastern European borders, together with economic inequality and the collapse of industry, have produced today’s refugee and the refugee hostel. The hostel is styled as a liminal space, typically located in the margins of western Europe’s cities and towns. The play presents the hostel as a scene of pragmatic individualism; a dog-eat-dog world where personal advancement takes precedence over moral action, and the off-stage presence of neo-Nazis points to the dangerous context within which the struggle for survival takes place. Watching the dramatic narrative unfold, we witness the processes whereby foreign nationals become interpellated as an ethnic minority and struggle to speak a new language. For the marginalised subject of contemporary Europe, transnationalism is presented as a traumatic, harrowing, and precarious experience.

Christoph Schlingensief’s Bitte Liebt Österreich replaces the hostel with the shipping container, presenting a potent and antagonistic symbol of the world market, and pointing to the global traffic in human cargo. The appropriation of the Big Brother concept critically exposes a culture of rejection that is predisposed towards exercising its powers of exclusion and conflating spectacle with reality. The placement of the container in Herbert von Karajan-Platz is the masterstroke of the dramatic event. It sets up the confrontation between elite and popular culture, the Viennese Opera House and the ugly container, Austrians and asylum seekers and demands that attention be paid to the space in between these binaries, which Schlingensief argues is occupied by the anti-immigrant Austrian Right.

These representative theatrical and performative examples, while differing in aesthetic form, share an intense critical engagement with the problem of mobility and migration. They show that Eurocentrism is located in a western perspective, that difference is not only a product of anti-foreigner sentiment, but is located and then embodied in the evolving transnational subject. The Croatian farmer, as Müller’s Guest Worker demonstrates, looks and feels intensely foreign in Germany and wants to discard all traces of hybridity.

The pressure of Europeanisation is shown in these works to have reached its limits in the capacity of subjects to embrace the other and for the other to feel at home in the west. If Europeanisation is understood as the expansion of cross-border connections among European nations, an increasing awareness of Europe as a regional grouping with a relation to globalisation, and a multiplicity of legal, monetary, territorial, governmental, and cultural issues and their management, as has been suggested, then these performances bear witness to the uneven uptake of these ideas and to the resistant forces that oppose its progress. They suggest that in its current formation, Europeanisation is more an elite concept than a grassroots people’s movement. That said, these performances participate in the process of Europeanisation by placing the non-German, non-Austrian other on the national stage and, in the case of Schlingensief, in the city centre. They tell the harrowing stories of refugees and enact the politics of exclusion, showing Europeanisation as a process of displacement. But in a more affirmative sense they also help delineate the difficult terrain of the postnational era. The relations between Europeanisation, as an expedient policy, and postnationalism, as the limits of the nation-state, are quite separate. As Pajewskij tells his homesick refugee listeners, and his wider audience in the theatre, home is a coat of holes. Nationalism is a defunct concept, but Europeanisation has not yet stepped up to the task of taking its place.

  1. [1] Hermann Kurthen, “Germany at the Crossroads: National Identity and the Challenges of Immigration,” International Migration Review 29.4 (1995) p. 915.
  2. [2] Michael Mann, “Has Globalization Ended the Rise and Rise of the Nation-State,” in David Held & Anthony McGrew eds. The Global Transformations Reader (Cambridge: Polity Press), p. 138.
  3. [3] Ghassan Hage, White Nation: Fantasies of White supremacy in multicultural society (Annandale, NSW: Pluto Press Australia), p. 49.
  4. [4] Homi Bhabha, Nation and Narration (London & New York: Routledge), p. 4.
  5. [5] Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (New York: Penguin Press, 2000), p. 310.
  6. [6] Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996).
  7. [7] Jürgen Habermas A Berlin Republic: Writings on Germany, trans. Steven Rendall (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1997), p. 168.
  8. [8] The original German publication is: Anna Langhoff, Transit Heimat/ gedeckte tische, Henschel Schauspiel Theaterverlag, Berlin, 1996. All German references are taken from this text and marked hereafter with a page number in brackets after the quotation. Available in English translation: Anna Langhoff, “The Table Laid,” trans. David Spencer, in Elyse Dodgson, ed. German Plays: Plays from a Changing Country (London: Nick Hern Books, 1997). All further references to this text are given as page numbers after the quotation.
  9. [9] Heiner Müller, dir. by Martin Wuttke, Germania 3: Gespenster Am Toten Mann, Berliner Ensemble, Berlin, 19 June 1996.
  10. [10] Christoph Schlingensief, Bitte Liebt Österreich, Wiener Festwochen, Vienna, 2000.
  11. [11] See for example: Kurthen, op. cit. and Kira Kosnick, The Gap between Culture and Cultures: Cultural Policy in Berlin and Its Implications for Immigrant Cultural Production, 2004, EU Working Paper RSCAS No 2004/41, Available:, Accessed: 15 May 2006.
  12. [12] Johan Olsen, The Many Faces of Europeanization, 2002, ARENA Working Papers, Available:, Accessed: 4 May 2006.
  13. [13] Regina Römhild, “Global heimat Germany. Migration and the Transnationalization of the Nation-State” in Transit Volume 1. Issue 1, 2005, p. 1.
  14. [14] Kurthen, op. cit., p. 917.
  15. [15] Ibid., p. 916-7.
  16. [16] Ibid., p. 929.
  17. [17] Ibid.
  18. [18] On Jan-Werner Müller’s account, the primary concern for liberals and the left was the issue of national identity. For many liberals and almost all on the left, German nationalism and patriotism were forever tainted by the slogan “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer.” Jan-Werner Müller, Another Country: German Intellectuals, Unification and National Identity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000).
  19. [19] Helen Wallace, “Europeanisation and Globalisation: Complementary or Contradictory Trends?” New Political Economy 5.3 (2000), p. 370.
  20. [20] Anna Langhoff, Interviewed by M. Hetzel (Berlin: 2005), p. 6.
  21. [21] According to the Migration Policy Institute, “With the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of travel restrictions from the former Eastern Bloc countries, an additional three million ethnic Germans returned to Germany between 1988 and 2003. Almost 2.2 million of these arrived from the former territory of the Soviet Union, with Poland (575,000) and Romania (220,000) providing the remaining flows. Migration Policy Institute, Available:, Accessed: 11 May 2006. According to Philip Martin and Michael Teitelbaum “2.3 million foreigners arrived in Germany between 1988 and 1993.” See:, Accessed: 11 May 2006.
  22. [22] Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Multitudes: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (New York: Penguin Press, 2004), p. 133.
  23. [23] Kurthen, op. cit. p. 924.
  24. [24] Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire, op.cit., p. 96.
  25. [25] Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London & New York: Routledge, 1994), p. 1.
  26. [26] Hardt and Negri, 2004, op. cit., p. 133.
  27. [27] Sewan Latchinian (dir.) quoted in: Marion Hirte, “Das Klischee Von Fremden Wird Zerkocht,” Neue Zeit 25 Jan 1994. Trans. M. Hetzel.
  28. [28] Magdalena J. Zaborowska, Sibelan Forrester and Elena Gapova, eds., Over the Wall/after the Fall: Post-Communist Cultures through an East-West Gaze (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2004), p. 6.
  29. [29] Sylke Tempel, “Borschtsch Und Spätzle: Anna Langhoff’s “Gedeckte Tische” im Deutschen Theater,” Wochenpost 3 Feb 1994. Trans. M. Hetzel.
  30. [30] Sylke Tempel wrote: “Das Stück ist witzig, spannungsreich und dramatisch geschickt. Bis zum Schlub, denn da wird die Sozialarbeiterin von Rechten gemeuchelt. Ach, ja. Die Deutschen bleiben eben doch gerne die Opfer” [The piece is funny, suspenseful and dramatically clever. Until the end, when the social worker is assassinated by the Right. Oh yes, the Germans love to remain the victim.].
  31. [31] Gerhard Ebert, “Heimat- Ein Mantel Aus Löchern,” Neue Deutsche Zeitung 29 Jan 1994. Trans. M. Hetzel.
  32. [32] Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire, op.cit., p. 112.
  33. [33] Heiner Müller dir. by Dimiter Gotscheff, Germania. Stücke., Deutsches Theater, Berlin, 23 September 2004.
  34. [34] Carl Weber, ed., A Heiner Müller Reader (Baltimore/ London: The John Hopkins University Press, 2001), p. 200-201.
  35. [35] Ibid.
  36. [36] Johannes Birringer, “A New Europe,” PAJ – a Journal of Performance and Art. 75 (2003), p. 31.
  37. [37]
  38. [38] Christoph Schlingensief, “Please Love Austria Website, 2000, Available:, Accessed: 5 June 2006.
  39. [39] Schlingensief, Official Website, Available:, Accessed: 5 June 2006.
  40. [40] Reinhard Kuhnert, Interviewed by D. Varney (Melbourne: 2006).
  41. [41] Harald Müller, Parallel Worlds or Peace Is Missing (Interview with Anna Langhoff), Goethe-Institut Inter Nationes in cooperation with Theater der Zeit, Available: http://www.goethe.ed/kug/pro/stuecke/englisch/langhoff.htm, Accessed: 8 May 2003.
  42. [42] David Barnett, “Tactical Realisms: Rolf Hochhuth’s ‘Wessis in Weimar’ and Franz Xaver Kroetz’s ‘Ich Bin Das Volk’, ” Whose Story? Continuities in Contemporary German- Language Literature, eds. Arthur Williams, Stuart Parks and Julian Preece (Frankfurt/Main: Peter Lang, 1998).
  43. [43] Harald Müller op. cit.
  44. [44] Bertolt Brecht and John Willett, Brecht on Theatre : The Development of an Aesthetic, trans. John Willett (New York and London: Hill and Wang ; Eyre Methuen, 1978), p. 198.