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  • Eure Heimat ist unser Albtraum ed. by Fatma Aydemir and Hengameh Yaghoobfirah
  • Christian David Zeitz
Eure Heimat ist unser Albtraum. Edited by Fatma Aydemir and Hengameh Yaghoobfirah. Berlin: Ullstein, 2019. Pp. 208. Cloth €20.00. ISBN 978-3961010363.

Marketed as Erzählendes Sachbuch by Ullstein, Eure Heimat ist unser Albtraum combines anecdotal criticism with critical race theory, collecting fourteen conceptually themed chapters—for example, "Arbeit," "Vertrauen," "Liebe"—by German writers, journalists, and cultural critics of color and/or with migration histories. Initiated in reaction to Horst Seehofer's renaming of the Innenministerium to Heimatministerium, the book seeks to problematize the recent positive reappropriation of Heimat: as both historical amnesia of its necropolitical place in Nazi racial imagination and policy and the not-so historical organized killing of migrants orchestrated by [End Page 225] the Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund (NSU) in the name of Heimat, and as wider normalization of defining Heimat negatively in terms of antiblackness, antisemitism, Islamophobia, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, etc. At the same time, most contributions are aimed at updating such essentialist and exclusionary ideals of Heimat, with a pointed focus on lived realities in Germany that these conceptions invisibilize and marginalize.

Sasha Marianna Salzmann's contribution, which starts off the volume, is concerned with the forms of alliance-building that a shared markedness and visibility under white German representational regimes provide for marginalized identities, despite their mainstream framing as diametrically opposed: queer, Jewish, Muslim. Debunking myths of (inherently) Muslim anti-LGBTQ sentiment and antisemitism, Salzmann recounts lively discussions about everyday racism in German refugee centers between her mother, a Jewish quota refugee from the former Soviet Union, and her two roommates, Syrian Muslim refugees, and also discusses Jewish-queer-Muslim dance culture in Berlin clubs and Muslim-looking men stepping in for Salzmann in cases of homophobic microaggression. A shared sense of vulnerability and visibility across supposedly oppositional sexual, ethnic, and religious markers affords care and security networks that the state mostly reserves for the majority population. Fatma Aydemir, in her chapter on "Arbeit," remembers an incident when a fellow ethnic German intern told her that she was only invited to a job interview due to an unfair (i.e., unfair to ethnic Germans) Migrantenbonus. Aydemir deconstructs this term not as a bonus that is given to migrants, but as a bonus that migrants give to the German economic and civil system, based on the premise that they must and do work harder to challenge the hegemonic whiteness of fields like the media. The chapter effectively outlines the unacknowledged visible and invisible migrant and postmigrant labor, so indispensable to neoliberal capitalist technologies that sustain the racialized good life in the Heimat.

In "Vertrauen," Deniz Utlu dissects trust issues racialized Germans have with the German state apparatus: using the NSU murders as an example, he describes a circle of suspicion (negative trust), in which the police first suspected the victims, despite indications of a neo-Nazi connection, in line with a general suspicion of migrants and racialized populations, leading the latter to suspect the police of strategically disavowing their lived knowledge of physical (and symbolic) racist violence. This leads Utlu to conclude that the state's appeal to unconditional trust on the side of migrant and racialized citizens is quasi-religious in nature and incompatible with its grounding in secular, democratic rationality. The chapters "Liebe" by Sharon Dodua Atoo and "Beleidigung" by Enrico Ippolito emphasize racism as a structural as opposed to individual problem and remind us of how difficult it can be for ethnic Germans to accept this ensuing reality of complicity. "Blicke" by Hengameh Yaghoobfirah and "Zuhause" by Mithu Sanyal are more directly inflected by cultural studies approaches: Yaghoobfirah offers a personal mediation of regimes of representation, [End Page 226] focusing on the white gaze and the intersectional politics of lookism, while Sanyal's contribution is a short yet concise genealogy of the terms Heimat and Deutsch, and proposes doing away with monocultural narratives of what (supposedly) was in favor of creating transcultural narratives of what is yet to come.

In "Gefährlich," Nadia Shehadeh describes how a discursive practice that maps threat, danger, fear, and terror on Arab and Muslim bodies (as well as...