"Harmful Comparisons: Frames of Genocidal Violence and the Intractability of Belonging in Germany" with Sultan Doughan

Friday, October 25th, 2019 12:00 – 1:30 pm
African Studies Seminar Room, Fifth Floor 232 Bay State Road

Anthropologists have recently attended to the phenomenon of national belonging by pointing to local practices in their transnational articulation as a complex claim to homeland or exclusion thereof. This paper aims to contribute to these debates by attending to the atoned relationship to the Holocaust as a practice of belonging. By bringing the relation to the genocidal past into the debate of national belonging, this paper demonstrates how German citizens of Middle Eastern descent have been engaged in performing their belonging through the Holocaust as a universal articulation of liberal subjecthood. In attending to a case of a German-Palestinian civic educator this paper discusses how a former model teacher of tolerance has sparked a controversy, because she compared the Holocaust to the Nakba. By discussing how the relation to the Holocaust as a paradigmatic event structures belonging, this paper accounts for the racializing effects on Middle Eastern immigrants.

Sultan Doughan is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies. As an anthropologist she studies secularism, religious difference, Middle Eastern diasporas and race in liberal democracies. Her work deals with questions of citizenship and minority rights in the context of post-Holocaust Germany. Doughan’s fieldwork in the field of civic education in the city of Berlin explored how citizenship is defined, rehearsed and practiced in an atmosphere of securitization and secularization in multi-ethnic migrant communities. Doughan accounts for how Muslims are both remade as a racial category and organized around previous racial-genocidal categories, specifically the figure of the Jew in the context of contemporary Germany.