Cultural Apartheid in Germany 

A Deep-Rooted Unspoken Tribalism

Anti-AFD protest in Germany. Still from EuroNews.

Given the continual resurgence of the populist Far-Right under the all encompassing banner of the AFD (Alternative für Deutschland), the Alternative for Germany party, a shocking coalition agreement has just been reached between the Christian Democrat Party (formerly led by Chancellor Angela Merkel) on a local and regional political basis.  It has become imperative for the writers of this text to take the bull by its horn and studiously attempt to shed some light on the complex problem(s) of “race“ and the notions of inclusion/exclusion in a very specific German and perhaps even a broader European context that is occurring now and today.

The term “apartheid” is probably the most infamously famous word coming from the Dutch language. It is politically highly charged. Epistemologically the term translates to the literal and metaphoric concept of separation of oneself, itself, or from within, or from others. Here we (the authors of this piece) chose the term not only to imply the current manifesting kind of cultural separation, but also on purpose to use this term as a form of provocation. In the term apartheid, we are not relating to South Africa in any actual literal sense or impact. The provocativeness of our use is primarily connected to current culture wars inside Germany and a much larger Europe. Although  in Germany, there are places for all colours but –  still colours are not ‘allowed’ to mix. In avoidance of equality from happening, strict spatial, ideological and linguistic boundaries are drawn.  Furthermore, the term apartheid, frankly speaking, in general a synonym for culture wars, as the American political scientist, Samuel Huntington has articulated far too often. For us, this term apartheid comprises much more than that. In our basic inquiry and research, we have interviewed numerous artists and intellectuals on the risqué of our use of the term “apartheid” and its impact in the midst of our current cultural wars and with advent of political extremism inside Germany and inside a broader European context.

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Oliver Baurhenn is co-founder of the CTM Festival for Adventurous Music & Visual Arts, Berlin, one of the leading innovative music festivals in Europe. He is also a spokesperson for the Council for the Arts, Berlin, as well as chairman of the prestigious Laguna Foundation for the promotion of sound art residencies. Ibrahim Quraishi is a conceptual artist and writer dividing his time between Berlin and Amsterdam. His work has been exhibited extensively across Europe, South/East Asia and the Middle East. He is a regular cultural-political contributor to the German newspaper TAZ : die tageszeitung. His first historical novel, “being everywhere, being no where” (part I of a trilogy), is forthcoming from Seven Stories Press, NY.

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