Social memory and Germany's immigration crisis : a case of collective forgetting / by Andrea Lynn Smith.
Representations of Germany’s crisis of anti-foreigner violence and ambivalent government policies regarding guestworkers misrepresent this crisis and reproduce several myths: that Germany has only recently relied on foreign labor, that Germany is an unusually "homogenous" nation, has experienced little integration of foreigners, and is not and cannot become an "immigration" country. These myths hinge on a widespread "forgetting" of much of German labor history. This paper outlines this missing history. Features common to past and present "guestworker" policies are highlighted. An examination of modern German citizenship and naturalization laws suggests that guestworker crises derive from a fundamental contradiction between economic and political interests. The current crisis can be viewed as one phase of a longer unresolved conflict between economic goals and the definition of the German nation. Such a perspective is generally avoided, however, as earlier periods of conflict are erased through widespread collective forgetting.
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