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“To arrive means being able to tell”: Memory Cultures and Narratives of Historical Migration in German Media in 1991–1994 and 2015–2017

Seuferling, Philipp LU (2017) MKVM13 20171
Media and Communication Studies
Abstract
The way a society remembers its past is crucial for how it deals with its present. Migration is one of these historically continuous events that produce memory cultures, which affect how refugees and migrants are perceived today. This thesis presents a case study of mediated memory cultures of migration in Germany. Mediations of migration history from two strikingly similar periods of condensed societal communication about migration, the so-called “refugee crisis” (2015-2017) and “asylum crisis” (1991-1994), are analyzed. The aim is to understand how memory cultures of historical migrations both are part of and affect contemporary mediations of migration.
Embedded in a conceptual triangle of media, memory and migration studies, this... (More)
The way a society remembers its past is crucial for how it deals with its present. Migration is one of these historically continuous events that produce memory cultures, which affect how refugees and migrants are perceived today. This thesis presents a case study of mediated memory cultures of migration in Germany. Mediations of migration history from two strikingly similar periods of condensed societal communication about migration, the so-called “refugee crisis” (2015-2017) and “asylum crisis” (1991-1994), are analyzed. The aim is to understand how memory cultures of historical migrations both are part of and affect contemporary mediations of migration.
Embedded in a conceptual triangle of media, memory and migration studies, this research goes beyond a study of migrant representations. It argues that memory cultures can demonstrate how media repetitively and continuously re-narrativize migration – across different cases of migration, across the media ensemble and across two time periods. Media pre- and remediate the story of migration in cultural templates and, thereby, contribute to the social construction of how migration is understood in society.
A narrative and discourse analysis of mainstream media texts, which feature historical migrations into and from Germany, sheds light on how historical frameworks of telling the story of migration form a media culture of migration. It can show that mediations of migration are historically continuous and repetitive: Media converge diverse experiences of flight, expulsion and migration over history into similar narrative patterns and cultural schematic templates of mediation. The analysis of a wide variety of factual and fictional media texts (broadcasting, press and online) from both time periods shows how media re-tell the story of migration within certain meta-narratives, on a textual and visual level, regardless the migration case.
Narratives and discourses of migration history form a contested memory culture: Mediated memories of migration negotiate a power question of inclusion and exclusion of refugees and migrants in national memory cultures of Germany. The different mediations show how, on the one hand, the voicing of historical migration experiences is limited to nationalist framing and one-sided perspectives of the receiving society. On the other hand, they also potentially contribute to incorporating imaginations of others’ experiences into own memories, as well as to creating empathy for contemporary refugees through the transfer of historical knowledge. Recognizable, culturally schematic narrativizations of migration in the media both limit and reduce diverse experiences, but also make identifiable time-crossing imaginaries around the phenomenon of migration possible for audiences in receiving societies.
Mediated memory cultures of migration can re-imagine past, present and future together. Showing the historical repetitiveness of mediations of migration, this thesis hence contributes to our understanding of how media historically affect social knowledge of migration. (Less)
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author
Seuferling, Philipp LU
supervisor
organization
course
MKVM13 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
refugee crisis, Germany, refugee, migration, narrative, media history, memory culture, asylum crisis
language
English
id
8906844
date added to LUP
2017-10-11 12:46:19
date last changed
2017-10-11 12:46:19
@misc{8906844,
  abstract     = {The way a society remembers its past is crucial for how it deals with its present. Migration is one of these historically continuous events that produce memory cultures, which affect how refugees and migrants are perceived today. This thesis presents a case study of mediated memory cultures of migration in Germany. Mediations of migration history from two strikingly similar periods of condensed societal communication about migration, the so-called “refugee crisis” (2015-2017) and “asylum crisis” (1991-1994), are analyzed. The aim is to understand how memory cultures of historical migrations both are part of and affect contemporary mediations of migration.
Embedded in a conceptual triangle of media, memory and migration studies, this research goes beyond a study of migrant representations. It argues that memory cultures can demonstrate how media repetitively and continuously re-narrativize migration – across different cases of migration, across the media ensemble and across two time periods. Media pre- and remediate the story of migration in cultural templates and, thereby, contribute to the social construction of how migration is understood in society.
A narrative and discourse analysis of mainstream media texts, which feature historical migrations into and from Germany, sheds light on how historical frameworks of telling the story of migration form a media culture of migration. It can show that mediations of migration are historically continuous and repetitive: Media converge diverse experiences of flight, expulsion and migration over history into similar narrative patterns and cultural schematic templates of mediation. The analysis of a wide variety of factual and fictional media texts (broadcasting, press and online) from both time periods shows how media re-tell the story of migration within certain meta-narratives, on a textual and visual level, regardless the migration case.
Narratives and discourses of migration history form a contested memory culture: Mediated memories of migration negotiate a power question of inclusion and exclusion of refugees and migrants in national memory cultures of Germany. The different mediations show how, on the one hand, the voicing of historical migration experiences is limited to nationalist framing and one-sided perspectives of the receiving society. On the other hand, they also potentially contribute to incorporating imaginations of others’ experiences into own memories, as well as to creating empathy for contemporary refugees through the transfer of historical knowledge. Recognizable, culturally schematic narrativizations of migration in the media both limit and reduce diverse experiences, but also make identifiable time-crossing imaginaries around the phenomenon of migration possible for audiences in receiving societies.
Mediated memory cultures of migration can re-imagine past, present and future together. Showing the historical repetitiveness of mediations of migration, this thesis hence contributes to our understanding of how media historically affect social knowledge of migration.},
  author       = {Seuferling, Philipp},
  keyword      = {refugee crisis,Germany,refugee,migration,narrative,media history,memory culture,asylum crisis},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {“To arrive means being able to tell”: Memory Cultures and Narratives of Historical Migration in German Media in 1991–1994 and 2015–2017},
  year         = {2017},
}