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  • 'Zigeuner' und Nation: Repräsentation - Inklusion - Exklusion ['Gypsies' and Nation: Representation - Inclusion - Exclusion]
  • Michael Hönicke (bio)
'Zigeuner' und Nation: Repräsentation - Inklusion - Exklusion ['Gypsies' and Nation: Representation - Inclusion - Exclusion]. Herbert Uerlings and Iulia-Karin Patrut, eds. 2008. Peter Lang, Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften, Frankfurt am Main. ISBN 978-3-631-57996-1 (hardcover).

'Zigeuner' und Nation constitutes one of the major outcomes of the special research project 600 Fremdheit und Armut ('Otherness and poverty') at the University of Trier. The book is part 8 in this series, which was launched in 2006 (see Schnabel-Schüle and Gestrich 2006). With its 22 contributions the volume offers a broad overview of various aspects of the relations between Gypsies, their representation in discursive formations, and their entanglement in structures of the nation state. The contributions cover different perspectives and are arranged in seven topics, including 'Representation, Nation and Total Exclusion', a comparison between "'Gypsies" and "Jews"', and the perspective on 'Artists, Citizens, Antisocial Elements - 'Gypsies' in the Discourse on Bohemian Life Around 1900', 'Registration, Persecution and the Search for Traces', 'Eastern European Perspectives', 'Fortune Telling, Witchery, Child Abduction - "Gypsy" Myths in Everyday Life', as well as '"Gypsies" in Works of Collective Knowledge'.

As the section titles suggest, the authors deal with techniques of representation among majority society. The editors' introduction clarifies how modes of [End Page 99] exclusion and inclusion are not only evident in juridical practices of state control but also inherent in the semantics of the term 'Gypsy'. With this in mind, the stigma of the Gypsy as it is coined by the majority society is investigated in its usage in different media such as lexica, belles lettres, police records, theoretical treatises and travel reports (pp. 11-13).

Herbert Uerlings discusses two examples of representation practice: the movie Tiefland ('Lowlands') by Leni Riefenstahl and the play Stecken, Stab und Stangl ('Stick, Staff and Pole') by Elfriede Jelinek. While Riefenstahl's work propagates the Blut und Boden - ('blood and soil') ideology of Nazi Germany and is seen as an example of the move toward total exclusion, Jelinek's twist on the culture of remembrance is far more difficult to classify. She chooses the way of non-representation by depicting the Roma in her play as mute and by allowing only the majority to speak about them. Uerling criticises how, by using this procedure, she fails adequately to present historical events.

Three authors focus on the collective discrimination of minorities, comparing Gypsies and Jews. Ulrich Kronauer focuses on representations of the relations between Jews and Gypsies in Western culture since the end of the seventeenth century. Andrea Geier and Iulia-Karin Patrut show a partly incongruent representation of Jews compared to the representation of Gypsies. With reference to German aesthetic discourse in the nineteenth century, they show how composers like Richard Wagner und Franz Liszt conceptualise the ideal homogeneous nation state in which the others play a stereotypical role. The Jew is conceived of as negative in toto, while in Liszt's oeuvre the Gypsy is regarded as integrated. In this context, othering evokes counter-images, but also serves as a paragon (p. 167). The discourse on alterity is deepened by Iulia-Karin Patrut. She reveals the critical potential of author Wilhelm Raabe. Patrut argues that he demonstrates the manner of the link between the majority's perception and the processes of exclusion and inclusion. She shows how the creation of the German people, the inclusion/exclusion of the 'inner stranger' together with a codification of the Gypsy/Jew make up a complex nation-building process (p. 199).

Another main topic of the book deals with the discourse on Bohemian life in contrast to the life of the artist and a discussion about the concept of the citizen. Anne-Lena Sälzer emphasises the way the cliché of the artist is linked to the stereotype of the Gypsy through the characteristic of antisocial behaviour. This attribution process is dialectic rather than teleological. While the Bohemian concept had been glorified in the romantic era, the same attributions lay the foundation for a creation of the concept of degeneracy as well as for persecution at the end of the nineteenth century...


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pp. 99-104
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