Event Detail

How to Tell a Migration Story, or: The Politics of Authenticity


How to Tell a Migration Story, or: The Politics of Authenticity

December 14, 2021
6:00 7:30 pm

Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Heinze
Technische Universität Braunschweig

Why is it that many contemporary American immigration narratives are authenticated as more or less "nonfictional" even where they are not marked as autobiographies? Many early immigration narratives are, of course, indeed autobiographies. These narratives about marked (i.e. minority) cultural practices have a long tradition of being read as slightly embellished, "authentic"/"true" social reports of ethnographies. Surprisingly, contemporary reception and criticism of narratives about marked cultural practices, including those marked as fictional and not as autobiographies, still carries vestiges of this "ethnographic" tradition: the texts are treated as "authentic"/"nonfictional" representations of cultural identity. What may look like a harmless critical idiosyncrasy is, as Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Heinze will argue in this talk, actually highly political. Such labeling evokes, appeals to, and engages in discourses of authenticity - discourses that are employed across the entire political spectrum, including the alt-right. Accordingly, this talk will look at notions of authenticity and their employment; and the very real political repercussions.

Online event, to be streamed via Zoom. Please register at https://www.nas.uni-bonn.de/Events

In cooperation with the North American Studies Program of the University of Bonn.