Listening to the New Germanness: Popular Music and National Identity

Melanie Schiller*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic


    In this paper I will to draw on extensive research done for my book entitled Soundtracking Germany: Popular Music and National Identity (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018), in which I investigate the mutually constitutive relationship of post-war German national identity and popular music. In order to illustrate how collective listening to popular music was fundamental for forging a new German identity after WWII, this paper will focus on early post-war Schlager and the widely popular carnival song “Wir sind die Eingeborenen von Trizonesien”(1948) in particular. The song, which became so popular that it was at times used as a substitute national anthem, addresses the occupying forces as “colonizers” while disclaiming guilt as “innocent natives” (Eingeborene) of (West)-Germany. Drawing on Bhabha’s concept of “nation as narration” (1990) and Anderson’s “imagined community” (1991), as well as Balibar’s notion of national identity as “the people producing themselves” (1991), this paper will analyze the construction, negotiation and performance of early post-war national identity in Germany through music. Finally, I will argue that through collectively listening and singing in the streets of cologne, in the interstice of the cultural landscape at its time, and availing themselves of the carnivalesque potential inversion of hierarchies (Bakhtin 1965), popular music enables the people to performatively (re)narrate “their” nation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2019
    EventGerman Studies Association 2019 : Forty-Third Annual Conference - Portland, OR, United States
    Duration: 3-Oct-20196-Oct-2019


    ConferenceGerman Studies Association 2019
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    CityPortland, OR


    • Popular Music
    • Germany
    • Carnival
    • Schlager
    • National Identity
    • Post-war

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