Poststructuralism is a concept that I haven’t had much exposure to, so I found this chapter extremely interesting. From my understanding, the poststructural theory helps define all the moving parts in an identity. Identity is significant because it is key to understanding how a person views the world and the future. I found the first vignette hard to read. I can’t imagine treating someone with that amount of disrespect and racism. The next part of the chapter moves into in relationship of identity and language learning. I thought the part about “rights to speech” and “power to impose reception” was really powerful. It explained that some speakers in some languages hold more attention and people are more likely to listen to them. I find myself falling for this “trap” sometimes. Overall, I found the chapter very interesting and captivating. It was accessible to someone who that hasn’t been exposed to poststructuralism and I appreciated that.
Berlin as a city of wall: The wall acted as a symbolic and physical barrier between two clashing ideologies: the communists and the democrats. Berlin Wall is a crucial aspect to German history and identity. The “zipper” analogy in Ghosts of Berlin perfectly describes the role of the Wall on Germany identity. The wall linked the East and West Germans, while still dividing them. Once a monument of shame, transformed into a symbol of pride and nationality when Kennedy announced himself a “Berliner”. What he meant by that was “Berliners were victims of Communist tyranny and virtuous examples of a noble steadfast” (Ladd 30). They were victims, which allowed them to turn the shame of the wall into a symbol of honor. The wall now signifies both German identity unification and division.
Berlin as a global city: In a traditional sense, Berlin is not considered a global city. Berlin’s connections within the global network of world cities fails to live up to the successes and characteristics of world cities such as London, Paris and New York. Berlin still has many economic problems making it not a true global city. This includes low levels of economic growth, and an unemployment rate, which exceeds the national average. Traditionally, Berlin is classified as a ‘Beta +’ global city, which are cities that link moderate economic regions into the world economy. However, in a sense that Berlin has touched millions of lives across the world and has influenced a large amount of areas with its history, it is in fact a global city. The number of experiences and cultural ideologies stemming from Berlin is countless. I saw similarities between Berlin and San Francisco. San Fran isn’t considered a global city and it doesn’t contain as much history or international influence, but it does greatly influence United States economy and national "flavor".
Berlin as a city of the European Union: It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union. It is a hub for economics and political power. Germany is making it's way to be a world power again and it’s located in the heart of the European Union. I am unfortunately limited to my knowledge about Berlin within the EU, but I would imagine that this would increase immigration rates because it is easier to move within the EU. This would, as a result, change the national identity of Berlin to include the new influx of immigrants.
Berlin as a city of immigrants: Throughout reading the three chapters of I was trying to connect all the points back to Germany, so I was grateful when Castles and Miller directly addressed it. The destruction of the Berlin wall, the major symbol of the Cold war, created the first opportunity for emigration and thousands rushed to depart. I can’t image what this exiting must have looked like, or the effects it had on German culture and politics. Overall, migration creates ethnic diversity, racism and multiculturalism, all which influence a country’s national identity. Immigration can cause strong reactions from select groups in the population and can cause insecurities regarding jobs or living arrangements. The most striking part of the reading to me was Germany’s relationship with racism. Noted in chapter two, Germany is very reluctant to even speak of racism. They use euphemisms like “hostility to foreigners” and “xenophobia”. In NPR’s piece about what it takes to be a German, The daughter of Ghanaian parents, "Otoo is angered that German society labels her and the estimated half-million Afro-Germans as foreigners — or treats them as nonexistent.” This was very disconcerting to me because the way that Otoo talked about German racism reminded me of American racism pre-MLK and the civil rights movement. I wonder if Germany’s negative attitudes towards foreigners will be apparent when studying abroad or if it is more a passive, non apparent movement.
Since America was expanded by a huge flood of immigration, our national identity is more of a “melting pot”. Cultures mix and melt together, making “American identity” very fluid. Germany, on the other hand seems to be more grounded in history and is more of a “salad bowl” where cultures stay separated and unique, not mixing together. This is an interesting contrast that I would like to analyze first hand.
"Berlin: Towards a Global City?" Web. 17 Apr. 2015. <http://usj.sagepub.com/content/38/10/1777.refs>.
Lgyib, Imtiyaz. "Berlin as a Global City." Web. 17 Apr. 2015.
The Ghost of Berlin
“The concrete barrier in Berlin stood as a signifier in many discourses: psychopathology, families’ grief, political ideology, urban identity, and modern art” – Brian Ladd (29)
This quote by Brian Ladd in his book “The Ghosts of Berlin” completely encompassed the main point of the first chapter. Before reading, I didn’t fully comprehend the significance of the wall on Berlin family dynamics and cultural suffering. The only previous exposure I’ve had with Germany is through my family. In my application essay I talked about a story my grandmother told me while I was growing up. She was about seven or eight, her father (my great grandfather) was a diplomat stationed in Germany. Her family took a train trip from West Berlin to East Berlin, which was under Communist control at that time. They went through “ Checkpoint Charlie.” My grandmother has told me that during the trip she was quite frightened, because they were instructed that while in East Germany, no one on the train was allowed to raise the window blind to look out, as the Communists might shoot you. My grandmother vividly remembered peeking through the blinds as a scared child and seeing a bleak and desolate world outside the safety of the train. I realized, while this story is important to me because it’s part of my grandmother’s identity, I still have so much to learn about Germany and it’s national heritage.
In the middle of reading, I experienced a really cool realization: I’m actually going to be in Berlin. . It seems silly, but I never actually pictured myself physically in Berlin before reading this chapter. I can now see myself standing beside the crumbled ruins of the wall and picturing what my grandmother must have seen and felt. I can’t wait to be immersed in Berlin life and learn as much as possible.
One of the things that stood out to me was the art on the wall. I thought the quotes and images, while somewhat vandalism, were fascinating. My favorite quote was “What are you staring at? Never seen a wall before?” While it’s not the most elegant quote, it made me smile and then think about all the consequences and impacts the wall had on Berlin. The Berlin Wall was anything but just a regular wall. I could see myself incorporating art and culture into my research project. I’m curious to know how did art change over the course of World War 2? What did art look like before and after the insertion of the Wall? What kind of impact did the wall have on Berlin identity and education?
I was pleasantly surprised when I first started reading the Matthew Spark chapter. When I saw the words “introducing Globalization” I was expecting a dry piece on German expansion and economics, but this is not the case with Sparks. From the very beginning, it was engaging, accessible and sometimes funny, which I really appreciate. It provided a very easy introduction to globalization, which was helpful because this is a topic I know little about.
The chapter really opened my eyes to “globalization” being a buzzword that politicians use with great frequency. Once you hear something so often, it often loses its true meaning of value and turns into a slang.
My favorite part was 1.2.1 the interdependencies of commodities. “From cars, coffee and computers to wheat water and Windows software, practically everything that is bought and sold today represents the coming together of global economic ties” (12-13). I previously have never though of this before and it was really interesting to read how everything has an effect even if it’s not obviously present. I’m intrigued to learn more about this topic and to see how globalization plays a roll in German life while abroad.