are your thoughts about the following four narratives of the city of Berlin:
- Berlin as a city of the Wall
- Berlin as a global city
- Berlin as a city of the European Union
- Berlin as a city of immigrants
How does this compare to an American identity?"
Berlin has definitely become a global city in the sense that what happens in Berlin affects a large amount of people, from a large amount of places, with a large amount of experiences. Our reading, "The Age of Migration," offered a really interesting interpretation on global cities that affects and is affected by the other narratives in the prompt. Global cities, at their core, are multi-cultural, and can often be interpreted as having large amounts of migration, and "The Age of Migration" makes note that "ethnic clustering and community formation may be seen as necessary products of migration to global cities" (229). This process of clustering or community forming may have bad consequences, like increased discrimination and racism against these minority groups, but good outcomes are also possible, such as "enrichment of urban life and culture." (Though this could be interpreted as tokenism and appropriating cultures for the sake of renewal and improvement for tourism purposes, for example.) Global cities are always changing and morphing, and this means that the identity of Berlin as a global city, or the identity of Germans who view Berlin as a global city, is also dynamic. It will be interesting to examine exactly how these identities are formed and reflected and whether they vary among populations in Germany depending on how the inhabitants view the global city (either in a positive or negative light).
Being a part of the European Union gives a very interesting perspective on identity formation. Does this lead to "othering" or another process similar? Is there a sense of something beyond national pride-- but near-continental pride? "The Age of Migration" cites the formation of the EU as being necessary to create a unified labor market-- but the EU also made it harder for non-EU citizens to enter into the EU countries. This deeply impacted immigration policies, and it would be interesting to research the changes in German identity before and after the formation of the EU-- were people more open to immigration and migrant populations prior to the EU? Is there a stricter definition of what makes someone German now, compared to before?
The EU undoubtedly impacted the narrative of Berlin as a city of immigrants. I feel that this narrative can be discussed in two ways. One, a positive interpretation, wherein a mosaic model is used to propose that Berlin is a city where a variety of cultures come together in a good way; "everyone is an immigrant and our city is built and thrives upon that fact." The second, a negative interpretation, where Berlin is a city of immigrants and this has erased any sort of national or city identity, and now there is no "true" Berliner. The reading surprised me when Germany was described as having a very strict immigration policy-- the "guestworker" policy where "such countries tried to prevent family reunion, were reluctant to grant secure residence status and had highly restrictive naturalization rules" (221). This fact gives me the impression that the latter interpretation of Berlin as a city of immigrants would be the most popular narrative.
I was also surprised that the US was described as having the most accommodating immigration policies-- encouraging family reunions and treating most immigrants as future citizens. Somehow I have a very hard time believing this, given my previous knowledge on how migrant populations are dehumanized and discriminated against all over the country. This brings to mind important questions about American identities. In my podunk suburban town, I have seen and heard many comments that degrade immigrants (for example, a bumper sticker on a large pickup truck that read: "This truck wasn't made with chopsticks") and I feel the narrative about the US as a country of immigrants is an uncommon, or at least unwanted, narrative or identifier. America is the land of the free and the home of the brave, but only if you're white and fluent in English and most likely male and straight. These are the dominant narratives I see in our US society, and I'm interested to see if that holds true for Germany, specifically Berlin.