The debate on cultural globalization also often involves
so-called postcolonial theory. What does this encompass?
According to Ruth Frankenbert and Lata Mani (1993, 292),
postcolonialism refers to a specific "conjuncture"
of social force fields and a type of political positioning
in relation to local conditions. Geopolitical power
gradients strongly influence these social relations.
They influence the emergence of certain subjectivities
- and thus also the production of art and the formation
of the aesthetic and cognitive categories of its perception.
Since global power relations structure living conditions
all over the world today, according to Frankenberg and
Mani's definition the place where postcolonial power
relations are in effect, is therefore equally ubiquitous.
This place is neither outside social practices nor beyond
the borders of western societies, but is rather reproduced
within them as a social relationship of simultaneous
inclusion and exclusion.
In the reception of these kinds of approaches in German-speaking
countries, however, theoretical and artistic approaches
that come from the local history of migration and minoritization
are almost never taken into consideration. The reception
applies instead almost exclusively to Anglo-American
approaches. Conversely, migrants and members of minorities
appear in this text corpus primarily as speechless and
powerless figures, for instance in Homi Bhabha's influential
text Dissemi-Nation (Bhaba 1997, 186f.). There, following
John Berger, a Turkish guest worker in Germany is described
as a mute automaton of labor and "speechless presence".
An image of helpless subalternity is thus generated,
which characterizes not only the perception of migrants
and the minoritized as a whole, but also all of their
utterances. Another prejudice about postcolonial theory
development maintains that it has only limited relevance
in the German context, since Germany's colonies are
hardly worth mentioning and the National-Socialist politics
of subjugation are not comparable with the issue of
actual colonial rule (Bronfen/Marius 1997, 8). The only
possibility for adaptation is consequently an examination
of the "effects of the mass migration of people
and the global circulation of signs, commodities and
information" (ibid.). What this means is not the
paradoxical situation, for instance, that signs, commodities
and persons can circulate relatively freely from north
to south - but not necessarily the other way around.
Nor does the "effects of global mass migration"
mean the ongoing neo-colonial inequality that is reproduced
within western societies in the form of the continuing
inequality of migrants and minorities. What is actually
meant by these effects, on the other hand, are banalities,
such as the circumstance "that I can go into a
club in Zurich as a Southern German and hear a dark-skinned
person speaking Swiss German with his friends"
(ibid., 6f.). These and other experiences induce the
authors to describe postcolonial power relations as
a kind of disco, in which "fusion cooking"
is carried out next to "DJ culture". This
is in proof of the "productivity of internal differences"
Yet even one of the early testimonies to the presence
of Africans in Germany, does not at all indicate harmonious
cultural contacts. Albrecht Dürer's painting of an African
in Augsburg (1508) obviously shows the slave of a merchant
company based there. Even in the initial phase of the
colonization of Africa and Asia, German merchant companies
such as the Tuchers supplied the greatest financial
contribution to the subjection, exploitation, and partial
extermination of the population in those places. The
African did not come to Augsburg by chance, then, but
rather in connection with a globalizing international
slave trade at the time, which spanned several continents.
German merchant houses were also significantly involved
in this. The first asiento, a kind of license
for the acquisition of slaves, was issued in 1528 to
the Germans Eynger and Sayler (Kloes 1985, 84). To negate
a significant German contribution to the history of
colonization, one would have to completely ignore these
kinds of economic and political connections.
Even today, migration movements are hardly inspired
by voluntary motivations, but move instead in the context
of an increasingly globalized world market. Authors
such as Ha (2002) accordingly stress the economic and
political power gradients that structure the post-colonial
situation as well as continuities in the economic function
of immigrants and minorities as "buffers in the
economic cycle", industrial reserves and menial
"Although there are important differences between
migrant, forced and guest workers, and these cannot
be treated equally or uniformly at all, it is worth
looking for lines of connection. This makes it possible
to reveal differences as well as what they have in common,
which enable statements about structures that have a
lasting effect, as well as discourses and practices
across different eras. (...) When we look at the initial
foundation of postcolonial migration in the Federal
Republic of Germany, then we immediately recognize a
number of historical, discursive and functional parallels
between so-called migrant, alien and guest workers,
which indicate continued racist colonialist practices
in Germany." (ibid.) Those who are "silent
about colonial presences," according to Ha, should
not even begin to speak of phenomena such as "hybridity"
Postcoloniality, according to Ha, is namely "not
primarily a chronological epochal term marking the period
after formal political independence from western colonial
powers, but rather a politically motivated category
of analysis of the historical, political, cultural and
discursive aspects of the colonial discourse that is
not yet closed" (Ha 1999). According to this reading,
postcoloniality comprises "a site of political
positioning. This site is woven into the memory and
the legacy of a colonial past and its present formation
and effectivity." (Gutiérrez Rodriguez 2000). The
differences between the various local conjunctures of
postcoloniality must therefore be investigated in a
locally specific analysis. This investigation also enables
the development of analytical instruments, which take
into consideration the local historical and political
background of phenomena of ethnicizing, gendering and
class-specific positioning that are specific to globalization.
Here, the analysis of postcolonial, feminist, and anti-racist
critique means paying attention to the geographical
and political context, in which this critique is produced
and through which it is formed.
This also applies most of all to a critical consideration
of the artistic and theoretical language of forms, which
has repeatedly been named in conjunction with postcolonial
critique as its privileged medium, specifically so-called
hybrid mixed forms (Erel, 1999). As Umut Erel stresses,
the possibilities of the hybridity discourse are not
only subject to analytical and strategic limitations.
Hierarchies of different cultural hybrids and genres
also emerge within the framework of a global, western-dominated
capitalism that is nourished by local differences. The
effect of these hierarchies is that primarily Anglo-American
forms of hybridity are privileged over others and interpreted
as universal and solely valid examples of cultural mixtures.
In conjunction with the conditions of utilization in
the global cultural industry, they are objectified,
exoticized, sexualized, and thus de-politicized. In
this hierarchization of cultural hybrid forms, a ranking
prevails, which privileges the products of economically
and militarily dominant countries such as England or
the USA - but which rejects cultural productions from
the global south as being archaic, backwards and thus
inferior. The hierarchies of the international distribution
of labor translate directly into culturally racist hierarchies
in the aesthetic field. Different languages of form
must first be recontextualized, in order for these reductionist
readings to be interpreted as the effects of discursive
power relations in the context of global capitalist
forms of utilization.
In comparison, an analysis of various artistic and
theoretical languages of form in postcolonial conjunctures
that are just as diverse demonstrates the global interdependence
(Shohat, Stam 2000, 28) of different forms of articulation
all over the world. In contrast to cultural studies
one-sidedly oriented to the cultural production of the
north, Ella Shohat and Robert Stam argue for an analysis
of the effects of global inequality on cultural and
theoretical articulations worldwide, oriented to the
world-system theory (Wallerstein 1974, 1980). In contrast
to Eurocentric constraints, they favor an investigation
of "multi-temporal heterogeneities", in other
words the analysis of simultaneous, mutually superimposed
space-temporalities, which influence the production
of social texts. This approach is based on the assumption
that structural overdevelopment and underdevelopment
not only influence one another in the area of economics,
but also affect artistic articulations.
This becomes particularly evident if not only postcolonial
contexts in the global northwest are investigated, but
if these are also placed in relation to worldwide feminist
articulations. Postcolonial contexts in Eastern Europe
thus differ not only in their formal articulations,
but also in the multiple logics of domination manifested
in them in relation to colonialism, patriarchally organized
nationalism, militarization and neo-colonialism (Grzinic
2000, Papic 1999).
What must be taken into consideration in categorizing
different cultural and theoretical productions in different
postcolonial contexts, are therefore the locally specific
conditions of their production. The postcolonial cultural
hybrid forms of the north are also entangled in global
capitalism's ways of production and thus reproduce existing
power gradients in the context of the international
distribution of labor. Social inequality is coded as
cultural difference or even deficiency and thus made
invisible. This constant reproduction of culturalized
inequality forms the law of the "unequal development"
of global capitalism. The Eurocentric hierarchizations
of various postcolonial contexts thus reproduce culture-racist
mechanisms of exclusion, which for their part represent
a fundamental structural element of global capitalist
forms of utilization and/or exploitation.
In reference to the contextualization of various postcolonial
articulations in conjunction with their global interdependence,
the question - rephrased from a saying by Gayatri Spivak
- must be raised, "what sort of coding has produced
this text?" (Spivak 1990, 19). Spivak's interest
focuses on the specific power relations that enable
an individual to describe and explain herself or himself
within a certain logic. (Gutiérrez Rodrigues 2001)
In reference to the transfer of postcolonial approaches
to the German context, in this sense we must not only
ask with Spivak's words: Can the subaltern speak?, or
even: Can the subaltern speak German? Instead the question
must be: But even if he or she has been talking on for
centuries - why didn't anybody listen?
Translated by Aileen Derieg
Homi K. Bhabha (1997): "Dissemi-Nation: Zeit,
Narrative und die Ränder der modernen Nation".
In: Elisabeth Bronfen/Benjamin Marius : Hybride Kulturen.
Elisabeth Bronfen/Benjamin Marius (Ed.) (1997): Hybride
Umut Erel (1999): "Grenzüberschreitungen und kulturelle
Mischformen als antirassistischer Widerstand? ".
In: Cathy Gelbin/ Kader Konuk/ Peggy Piesche (Ed.):
Aufbrüche. Kulturelle Produktionen von Migrantinnen,
Schwarzen und jüdischen Frauen in Deutschland. Königstein.
Ruth Frankenberg / Lata Mani (1993): "Crosscurrents,
Crosstalk: Race, 'Postcoloniality' and the Politics
of Location". In: Cultural Studies 7.2, 292-310.
Encarnación Gutiérrez Rodríguez (1999): Intellektuelle
Migrantinnen - Subjektivitäten im Zeitalter von Globalisierung.
Eine postkoloniale dekonstruktive Analyse von Biographien
im Spannungsverhältnis von Ethnisierung und Vergeschlechtlichung.
Encarnación Gutiérrez Rodríguez (2001): "Fallstricke
des Feminismus. Das Denken 'kritischer Differenzen'
ohne geopolitische Kontextualisierung. Einige Überlegungen
zur Rezeption antirassistischer und postkolonialer Kritik".
In: polylog. Zeitschrift für interkulturelles Philosophieren
4 (1999), 13-24.
Marina Grzinic (2000): "Spectralisation of Europe".
In: Timothy Druckrey (Ed.): The Net_Condition: Art and
Global Media. Boston, Karlsruhe.
Kien Nghi Ha (1999): Ethnizität und Migration. Opladen.
Kien Nghi Ha (2002):Postkoloniale Migration, Rassismus
und die Frage der Hybridität u.v.M.
Erhard Kloes (1985): Die Herren der Welt, Cologne.
Zarana Papic (1999): "Women in Serbia: Post-Communism,
War and Nationalist Mutations". In: Sabrina P.
Ramet (Ed.): Gender politics in the Western Balkans.
Ella Shohat, Robert Stam (2000): "Narrativizing
Visual Culture - towards a polycentric aesthetics".
In: Nicholas Mizoeff (Ed.): The Visual Culture Reader.
London, New York.
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1988): "Can the Subaltern
Speak?" In: C. Nelson / L. Grossberg (Ed.): Marxism
and the Interpretation of Culture. Chicago.
Immanuel Wallerstein (1974): The Modern World-System,
I: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of European
World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century. New York &