im-export / report from the inbetween

House of World Cultures Berlin hosts for the next few days the project Import Export (Cultural Transfer between India and Germany, Austria) which ‘aims to explore the dynamics of mutual perception in the age of globalisation’.

Today’s morning of the accompanying symposium was covered by explorations of authenticity which ended with a presentation of filmaker and journalist Navina Sundaram. And her position and experience within german broadcasting system evolving from merging her migrant background with work experience of being an ‘anderer Deutscher’ (other German) highlighted some very interesting facts about the still difficult and limited situation for migrants/immigrants in this culture. Despite the developments in media braodcasting in other western cultures which at least changed their transmitted surface through the visible involvement of journalists from various cultural backgrounds, the german attitude still critisizes on one side missing assimilation (the all-time argument to avoid multitude) and on the other reproaches a biased sympathy for the original country of the migrant. From this hyper-ambivalent setting that in her words creates a steady paranoid situation around the always present question if the attack or critic was just personel or a general distinction against the migrant evolves a more than demanding situation of the inbetween with attacks from all sides – which hardly allows to express a hybrid self.

Navina Sundaram summarizes:

My lecture traces nearly 50 years of media patterns in public broadcasting. Born and educated in India, but determined to make it in German Television, I entered the scene in 1964. Working within the television system as part of an editorial staff compares to being some sort of chameleon gone berserk – changing perceptions, switching from exotic to normal, deconstructing each and trying to reconstruct them in my own terms. The unresolved debate of authenticity is a no-win situation. Is my ethnicity a handicap or is it a bonus? Fractured identities, fragmented identities, and yet I am at ease. How to use this in my work? And do they let me use it in my work?

(… the entire text of her lecture has been published in last weekend’s taz magazine .. sorry, just in german)

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