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A reconceptualization of Germanness, combined with a reconsideration of what constitutes “Germanness” and “Turkishness” and how they are linked, is a central theme in the programs of a younger generation of Turkish German cabaret artists and comedians. As a member of the new generation of performers, Serdar Somuncu stands out, not only for his unapologetic embrace of political theater critical of both German and Turkish social politics, but also for his assertion of a right and responsibility to engage with Germany’s past, coupled with an insistence on differentiation and balanced comparison when discussing integration. After gaining notoriety through his Mein Kampf readings, Somuncu launched a series of programs highlighting Germany’s failure to come to terms with Nazism, the persistence of ethnic stereotypes, the debilitating influence of mass media, and the necessity of a reciprocal process of integration. As a German citizen of Turkish heritage, well versed in the socio-political issues that unite and divide the two countries and zealous in his efforts to incite mutually informed, critical reflection on Turkish German relations, Somuncu has contributed to the transformation of the German comedy stage into a site of transnational intervention.

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Copyright © 2011, University of California - Berkley, Department of German. This article first appeared in TRANSIT: A Journal of Travel, Migration, and Multiculturalism in the German-speaking World 7:1 (2011).

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