BOTH GERMAN AND RUSSIAN: SECOND-GENERATION RUSSIAN-GERMAN IDENTITIES IN GERMANY
|Arts & Humanities - Other Topics; ascription; culture; ethnicity; Germany; Humanities, Multidisciplinary; identity; migration; nationality; Russia
|URAL FEDERAL UNIV
This essay presents the results of a qualitative interview study with young people of Russian-German origin born in Germany, i. e., the descendants of resettlers (Spataussiedler) from the successor states of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Using poststructuralist theories that understand the linguistic practices and discursive attribution of social categories as modes of constituting subjectivity and corresponding identities, this study focuses on processes of natio-ethno-cultural identity formation among the second generation of Spataussiedler and their experiences of being externally ascribed to certain natio-ethno-cultural categories. In the existing literature, this topic has been extensively addressed with regard to the first generation of Spataussiedler, but not the second generation, whose conditions for identity formation in Germany are quite different due to their relative inconspicuousness, i. e., the invisibility of their migration background. For the first generation of Spataussiedler, the dual exclusion as German in Russia and Russian in Germany was the cause of a persistent identity uncertainty, especially given that the labeling as ``Russian'' by supposed fellow Germans was perceived as a hurtful mis-ascription. The second generation, in contrast, is not subject to this dual exclusion. Surrounding society generally perceives them as German, thus reinforcing their corresponding self-identification as German. At the same time, there is a limited but positive identification with the category of Russian as well, which is less often activated by external ascriptions and rather fed by the presence of customs in the family context that are perceived as Russian. Members of the second generation are thus able to identify satisfactorily as both ``German'' and ``Russian''. For this generation, the evasive intermediate category ``Russian-German'' therefore becomes obsolete as a source of identification, while it served and still serves as a first-generation strategy for coping with dual exclusion and the resulting inability to identify as either German or Russian. At the same time, a semantic emptying and a conflation of the category ``Russian-German'' with the category ``Russian'' takes place, which results from the second generation never having perceived its own cultural otherness both as non-Russian (before migration) and non-German (after migration), but only as Russian in Germany.
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checked on Feb 23, 2024