Art and Heimat: Cultural contestations of a (German) notion
(Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Paper short abstract:
The concept of Heimat is deeply rooted in ideas about German identity and culture. Yet, there is hardly a more contested term, especially since the rise of new nativist movements. This paper reflects how art and anthropology position themselves in relation to this notion and its (re)appropriation.
Paper long abstract:
Since the election of the current German government in late 2017, the term Heimat is officially part of the tasks of the German Ministry of the Interior and has received renewed attention. Yet what kinds of practices - religious, cultural, political - and groups of people this term implies is contested and subject of rewriting and reappropriation. For nationalist parties such as the Alternative for Germany, or AfD, currently third strongest force in the German parliament, questions about Heimat are fundamentally tied to national identity. This paper draws on fieldwork with curators, artists, and theatre directors in Berlin and the Ruhr Valley, who critically engage with notions of Heimat, identity, and alterity. In particular, I wish to examine in what ways artistic and curatorial ways of thinking about identity beyond Heimat and nativism may reinvigorate anthropological understandings of culture, identity, and nation as well as the very understanding of the subject and focus of anthropology itself.
Art and nativism [Anthropology and the Arts Network]