ERG SES D 05, Parallel Session D 05
Ethnic german immigrants from the former Soviet Union (the so-called Aussiedler), counting about 2,5 million, constitute the second largest migrant community in Germany. Although benefitting from a privileged position due to their judicial status as Germans, “Aussiedler” are marginalized socially as well as in German media and therefore suffer difficulties (in integration) similar to those of other migrant groups (see Dietz/Roll 1998: 18). Furthermore, they are confronted with a multilayered constellation of internal and external ascriptions, in regard to coping with their ethnic-cultural belongings. Generally, an exploration of this topic intensifies during the period of adolescence. For those “Aussiedler”, who also migrated to Germany as adolescents, the dealing with one's belonging proves to be particularly complex. They are met with “redoubled demands of transformation” (vgl. King/Schwab 2000), as the processes, specific for adolescence and migration, can reinforce, block or stimulate each other. To that effect, experiences of separation and foreignness hold more relevance for adolescent migrants than for natives; just the same as questions of localization, in terms of socio-spatial belonging, play a different role for immigrants and present them with special challenges.
For many “Aussiedler” adolescents, the loss of a well-defined construction of ethnic belonging has not been triggered off as recently as with their departure. Rather, the conflicting internal and external ascriptions are already resulting from their familial migration history and are likely to accompany them all their lives. The “Aussiedler” history of migration has its origins in the 18th century, when german settlers emigrated to Russia (see Schmitt-Rodermund 1999: 51ff.). It was shaped by experiences of stigmatization and deportation due to national affiliations during the Second Word War and eventually the German migrants achieved an increasing assimilation into the Russian environment. Accordingly, the number of bi-national marriages increased significantly since the 1950's and the use of the German mother tongue diminished. For the majority of the young “Aussiedler” generation, that is why even in their country of birth, the question of their ethnic-cultural identity cannot be “answered one-dimensionally” (Schmidt-Bernhard 2008: 77).
The experience of ambivalence is being reinforced by the resettlement to Germany, since many “Aussiedler” immigrants again become victims of the “established-outsider figuration” (in the sense of Elias/Scotson 1965) in their supposedly german homeland. This raises the question about which constructions of belonging the “Aussiedler” have developed during their adolescence, how those constructions are influenced by their biographies, particularly with regard to their migration, and how those constructions effect their lives in Germany. In the workshop, I would like to present the findings to these questions. Dealing with ones own belonging is – specifically for migrants - an important issue, which can be presented on the basis of this specific group as under a magnifying glass.
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