Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Oppressive Surveillance in Germany.

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

More than two months ago I wrote an entry on the incarceration of the urban sociologist Andrej Holm. Luckily he has been released after several weeks of cellular confinement under particularly harsh conditions – has was labelled a terrorist, and as we learned from current US American practices, that seems to forfeit you of quite a few human rights. This week, on Wednesday, the German Federal Court will decide if the warrant issued against Andrej Holm was legal in the first place.
Remember: one of the main grounds on which he was arrested was that he wrote critically about such things as gentrification and that this and other terms were used in the pamphlets of the militante gruppe, who set fire to several German military vehicles. It seems he has met people who are suspected to be members of this group on several occasions. Using terms such as gentrification, being an outspoken critic of related urban developments, and having met people who may be arsonists seems to be enough to rid not only you of your rights, but also your friends and family, who are now all being observed, wiretapped and so forth. Now many people in the social sciences, critical or not so critical, fear that they might too be arrested as terrorists when they actually do their work, leave their ivory tower, engage with different people outside of academia, be they investors, everyday people, or militants – and how am I supposed to know if someone who I meet is a militant or not? How terribly far going these so-called anti-terrorist measures go is being witnessed on the weblog of Andrej Holm’s partner, with whom he has two children. A scary read indeed.
And what is also quite scary is that I really carefully have to judge my words writing this entry, because it has become obvious that all activity related to this case is being monitored very closely by Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (the BKA). That is how far we have come: I feel afraid enough to not even dare to joke about this affair. I think it really is time to turn the wheel around and re-establish all those civil liberties that have been torn down over the course of the last six years. When I was young, reading Orwell’s 1984 and similar dystopian novels, I never thought that a distinctly similar scenario would become true when I am an adult. Dire times, and my Norwegian colleagues here in Oslo seem to be pretty shocked about the current state of interior affairs in Germany.

Full Metal VillageNähe. Und Distanz.

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Nachdem der erste Versuch gescheitert ist, weil es keine Karten mehr gab, hat es gestern doch noch geklappt und wir sind in die Spätvorstellung des als Heimatfilm untertitelten Dokumentarfilms Full Metal Village gegangen. Eine sehr gute Entscheidung, denn dieser Film ist wirklich hervorragend. Er macht genau das, was ich zu häufig bei Dokumentationen vermisse: die DokumentarfilmerInnen werden mit in den Film einbezogen. Die Gefilmten reden mit ihnen, sind darüber verunsichert, wie die Filmenden sie beziehungsweise das, was sie sagen, finden, schauen sie an und scherzen mit und über sie. Da die Filmemacherin Sung Hyung Cho genauso viel Respekt wie Interesse zeigt, öffnen sich die Menschen, ohne sich entblößen zu müssen. So entsteht eine sehr feine Balance zwischen Nähe und Distanz, eine Balance, die das Anschauen und Anhören dieses Films zu einem großartigen Erlebnis machen. Es gibt viele schöne Momente, es gibt wirklich witzige Momente, in denen das Kinopublikum mit großer Lust gelacht hat, und es gibt Momente in denen klar wird, wie die Menschen auf dem Land dazu kommen, nicht bloß konservative, sondern auch (mehr oder weniger latent) rechte Positionen einzunehmen. Und das alles tun sie in sehr intimer Weise gegenüber eine Filmemacherin, die aus Korea kommt. Und dann gibt es noch die schönen, traurigen und stillen Momente. Momente, die tiefe Sympathie für Menschen wecken, die einen Lebensstil pflegen, von dem meist so getan wird, als gäbe es ihn überhaupt nicht mehr. Alles in allem wird es schwer, diesen Film in diesem Jahr noch zu toppen. Für mich ein wichtiger Film, den ich allen nur empfehlen kann. Wer das Landleben aus eigener Anschauung kennt – und sei es auch nur als daneben stehender Bekannter – und wer das Herz im Norden trägt, die/der sollte diesen Film unbedingt und wenn irgend möglich auch auf großer Leinwand anschauen.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Ibn Khaldûn – Reception at the rim of contemporary German sociology.

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

Coming back from Algiers, I just realized that I haven’t yet put the abstract for my presentation in Algiers online.

Germany’s colonial history is often neglected and the ties between Germany and the Maghreb, the former Ottoman Empire and the Arab world in general seem to have faded out of the academic disciplines that are not explicitly dealing with either the Islam, North Africa or the arab-speaking countries. References to classic non-western scholars are rarely found and if people talk or write about them their value
sometimes seems to be only anecdotal. This talk will focus on the places and persons who bring Ibn Khaldûn into German sociological discourse. The obstacles that have to be overcome while carrying Ibn Khaldûn into the realms of accepted academia are manifold: the ignorance of non-western academic traditions has already been mentioned, knowledge about the history of the Maghreb cannot be expected from German students, the two German translations of the Muqaddimah are incomplete and out of print (one of them has been published in 1992), the established canon of sociological works tends to start with Auguste Comte, and including an Arab scholar into a syllabus might be regarded as irritating or even suspect. However, there are also several factors that make Ibn Khaldûn a compelling subject for sociological study in Germany: general interest in the Arab world seems to be rising, the number of people with an Arab background or of Islamic confession who find their way into academia
is growing, and post-modernist theory may have strengthened the position of “alternative voices” in sociological discourse. How do protagonists of Ibn Khaldûn cope with these obstacles, what are their resources and why do actually take the step and include Ibn Khaldûn? Based on German texts on Ibn Khaldûn and interviews with
several sociologists, this talk will analyze the images and usages of Ibn Khaldun and trace the ways in which German sociologists appropriate Ibn Khaldûn.

Some more information may be necessary: Three days ago I presented a paper on the international conference called Figures d’Ibn Khaldûn – Appropriation, usages (Arguments). The conference was sponsored by the Algerian Ministry of Culture, and the opening speech was held by the Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika himself. I will post another entry soon – the conference was very interesting and it was my first stay in the Arab-speaking world!>

Well fed and educated.

Friday, April 1st, 2005

Back again from the land of classic profiles. We had a great time, met many nice people, saw a few piles of stone, and got to know quite a few new and delicious dishes and beverages. Want to hear an anecdote? Let me think… Kerstin made an observation that has good anecdotal value: Here in Germany, dogs usually do live their lives accompanying the humans they belong to. They walk around with them, they sleep in the same houses, they eat food that is served them personally. In Greece, there is not only a human population in settlements, there is also an almost independant population of dogs. They hang out with other dogs, they eat with them, sleep in packs, trot along the trottoir with other dogs and generally ignore humans (except for trying to pay attention to cars and other dangers). Funny to watch them be dogs that are different from local dogs. Doggier, I would say. I also felt less threatened by those dogs and I saw fewer piles of dog shit in Athens than here in Berlin.

Trample down on German tradition.

Wednesday, February 9th, 2005

Florian just sent me this link I would love to have one of these, alas, I can’t put it on my amazon wishlist…


Tuesday, April 20th, 2004

Nun bin ich wieder ein ordentlicher Staatsbürger. Nachdem ich vor längerer Zeit meinen Perso verschlust habe, bin ich nun wieder im Besitz eines solchen staatsbürgerlichen Dokuments. Selbiges weist auch einige neue Kopierschutzmechanismen (komische Hologramme und so) auf, mit denen mein alter Perso nicht hätte mithalten können. Also alles viel besser jetzt? Mitnichten. Nun komme ich nämlich in die missliche Lage, mir für die beiden um die Ecke liegenden Videotheken einen Leihausweis besorgen zu können. Bisher ging das nicht, weshalb Kerstin und Olli den lästigen Gang zur Videothek absolvieren mussten, während meine Anwesenheit eher fakultativer Natur war. Früher war alles besser.
Morgen fahr ich übrigens das erste Mal wieder nach Darmstadt. Da sollte doch schon diese eine Jahreszeit ihr blaues Band feist am flattern haben. (Wobei ich mich ja nicht beschweren möchte: unser Kirschbaum verwandelt sich derzeit in eine riesige rosa Wolke, was ja ein kaum zu übertreffender, erhabender Anblick ist, der auch dem gelangweiltesten Prenzelberger einen unschick offenen Mund verpasst und die Maske der Desinteressiertheit für einen Moment abblättern lässt.) So, jetzt wird Wäsche aufgehangen und weiter artikelt.