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Between Bohemia and Resistance: Immigrants’ Pubs in Hamburg-Germany

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MI-AN Publishing, 2015.
In this paper, I will focus on the meaning of pubs as spaces of cultural memory, for the reproduction of political and cultural identities of immigrants and exiles of Turkish descent in Germany. Provided by the neoliberal changes in the 1980’s in conjunction with processes of the “house squatting struggles” there have been transformations in cultural spaces. These transformations facilitated a kind of new political initiative in Hamburg’s “Schanzenviertel” neighbourhood. This new emerging idea rested on the belief that new models of emancipative, i.e., non-representative forms of political praxis were necessary. At the same time, new alternative meeting places, such as pubs, that are run and visited mostly (but not exclusively) by regular immigrants and political exiles of Turkish descent were set up in the neighbourhood. The starting point of these developments was not merely political changes in Eastern Europe and the following collapse of many leftist organisations, but also the accompanying loss of spaces of political expression. Accordingly these pubs were created as spaces in which the immigrants share political, social and cultural experiences and reproduce collective immigrant identities. For this research, two pubs in Schanzenviertel, frequented mainly by immigrants of Turkish descent were chosen. As spaces in which cultural memory is expressed, I will examine the meaning of those pubs not only for the re-production of the immigrants’ cultural identities, but also for practicing their political identities. In doing so I will focus on the following questions: How do the immigrants express themselves through these politicised cultural spaces? How do they define their much defended emancipative politics and how do they shape their political praxis to expand their power for action? Considering that these spaces are places where collective memory is nurtured, and that memory is the place where belongingness is constructed, what are the ways in which collective identities are reproduced?
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