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Bagdad, Berlin, Warschau

Dekonstruktionen der Bildungsreise in Sherko Fatahs postkolonialem Entwicklungsroman ‚Ein weißes Land‘ (2011)

Katharina Forster

Pages 105 - 137



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The paper examines the motif of the Bildungsreise in Sherko Fatah’s post-colonial novel Ein weißes Land (2011). Anwar, the novel’s protagonist, grows up in 1920s Baghdad under British administration, a diverse but profoundly unequal society rife with religious conflict. Driven by a desire for self-development and adventure characteristic of the European Bildungsroman tradition, Anwar sets out on a catastrophic coming-of-age journey. He falls in with thieves, nationalists and religious extremists and eventually ends up in Europe at the cusp of World War II. In a blurring of victim/perpetrator roles, Anwar is recruited by the Waffen-SS and takes part in the conquest of Lebensraum in Eastern Europe, the colonization project of the Third Reich. Beyond these thematic subversions of genre conventions, the paper also explores the novel’s structural innovations. While the classic Bildungsroman has been associated with circular plot patterns (‘return’ signals accommodation to social expectations after a temporary phase of youthful rebellion), Fatah’s novel eschews this conciliatory circularity. It is replaced by aberrant temporal structures such as repetition and regression. As a result, Anwar's youth is framed as a process of disrupted development in the context of European colonialism and the Nazi regime.

Keywords: Sherko Fatah, Bildungsroman, travel, colonialism, national socialism, development


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