The Mainstreaming of Minorities? A Comparative Analysis of Ethnicity and its Function in German and US-American Popular Culture

The significance of media of popular culture for negotiating cultural self-representation has been a key feature of the field of Cultural Studies as such. In this sense, studies have increased in recent years which discuss concepts of identity as they are articulated in TV series - thus, Ally McBeal seemed to many the prototype of female identity in the 1990s. In US-American serials such as "Friends", "Seinfeld", or "Mad About You", ethnic characters - characters who time and again self-identity as belonging to a particular ethnic group - are not only part of the core cast, but the question of "ethnicity" itself has gained in dramatic relevance. Thus, these forms of popular culture seem to reflect social transformation, the path of a given society towards multicultural tolerance.
This project aims at investigating the differences in these various TV series and media with representation and assessing the dramatic repertoire employed, we will inquire about the role such TV series can play in social discourse as such.
Moreover, a dialogue between different formats from a German and a US-American context can yield possibilities of comparison for assessing the feasibility and the limits of multiculturalism in a given society.

Duration of Funding: 2003-2005

Associate Prof. Mita Banerjee (American Studies)
Juniorprof. Peter Marx (Theater)

Banerjee Mita/ Wilfried Raussert (Hrsg.) (2005): "Vikrams of Change: The Suspended Transnational Presence of the South Asian in 'Friends.'" "Asian American Studies in Europe." In: Amerikastudien/American Studies. Special Issue.

Banerjee, Mita (2004): "'Traveling Barbies' and Rolling Blackouts: Images of Mobility in Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding." In: Comparative American Studies (CAS), 1. S. 448-70.

Dies. (2004): "The Ethnic Other as the Buhfrau of a White Nation: Comparative Ethnicities in German Popular Culture." In: Sites of Ethnicity. Ed. William Boelhower, Rocio Davis and Carmen Birkle. Heidelberg.

Dies. (2004): “Was guckst Du?” Returning the Gaze in Kaya Yanar`s Ethnic comedy and Osman Engin`s Kanaken Ghandi. In: West Coast Line, Nr. 43. 38/1. Vancouver.