Grenzüberschreitungen : Eine untersuchung ausgewählter Novellen Hans Grimms im Zusammenhang mit der kolonialen Grenzproblematik

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The focus of this dissertation is the concept of liminality within selected novellas of the German colonial author Hans Grimm (1875-1959). Boundaries and frontiers are an omnipresent key issue within colonial literature. Within the postcolonial German literary studies field, however, liminality has so far been given only very little interest, although it is an essential tool in elaborating our understanding not only of the colonial ideology and the colonial discourse, but also of society in general. The methodology used in this dissertation is derived from a postcolonial paradigm. Within the globalization tendencies of the 21st century the postcolonial discourse is characterized by the fluidity and questioning of boundaries. Postcolonial and post-modern theorists have designated the identity formation with expressions like "hybridity" (Homi K. Bhabha) and "fragmentation" (Stuart Hall). Studies have shown that every human contact influences identity formation. Every exchange, every dialectic interaction between the heterogeneous "other" and "self" leads to new, complex and hybrid identities. Postcolonial and post-modern concepts are a significant tool in understanding the colonial obsession with boundaries. Besides an understanding of the postcolonial discourse, an overview of the particularly complex concept of the German word "die Grenze," the boundary, is vital with regard to literary analysis. This literary study draws attention to gender, race as well as geographical boundaries within Grimm’s writings. In his novellas these boundaries are explored, undermined and underpinned at the same time. Any recognition of the "other," any hybridisation jeopardizes the colonial power, and calls for the constant reinforcement of the boundaries. The novellas reveal that any repressive and totalitarian boundary settings leave no space for any other aspirations, apart from power. That is the dilemma Grimm’s fictional characters have to deal with. The colonial enterprise is not compatible with personal fulfilment and the human condition itself, which is the reason why most of the characters are doomed to failure in the colony.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 116-126).