Date of Degree
Krystal M. Perkins
Anna A. Akasoy
Maria Y. Rodriguez
Heimat, Whiteness, Affect, Nationalism, Germany, Mixed Methods
This dissertation examined the patterns of attachments and affective investments in Whiteness, objectifications, and exclusions entrenched in the construct of Heimat, which is broadly defined as “homeland” in German-speaking contexts. It used computational social science and discourse analytical methods to analyze how Heimat was discussed, embodied, and made sense of in affective ways. Sitting at the intersections of critical psychology, critical race and feminist theory, and Heimat scholarship, this research asked how Heimat functions affectively to (re)produce and maintain ideologies like white supremacy and nationalism.
Using Structural Topic Modeling on a big Twitter dataset (611,609), I estimated a model of 55 topics. Coding these topics, I found that Heimat was discussed in five thematic groupings: emotions, migration, politics, entertainment, and miscellaneous. The emotion category was the biggest category with more than one third of topic proportions represented. I then used a subset of tweets to analyze thirteen tweets that used love and nostalgia. I found that Twitter users employed emotions for dominant group purposes by constructing binaries and by looking backward and forward. My last analysis chapter examined the ways in which white cis-women teachers in two focus groups reproduced and resisted exclusionary Heimat discourses. I found that participants employed liberal ideas like tolerance which resulted in practices that accept racialized and cultural others conditionally; namely, by standards that dominant society posits. I also found evidence of colorblindness that insists on the sameness and unity of everyone, and at the same time removes possibilities of addressing hierarchies and challenging power dynamics because they remain invisible. Finally, participants responded with irritation to texts written by racialized and migratized authors, feeling attacked by the critical words. Based on this irritation, participants, for example, framed the authors as “they can’t write like that,” thus tone-policing their words.
This dissertation found that despite the common construction of Heimat as a subjective experience, which it can also be, it is important to interrogate Heimat more closely, especially in its emotional and ideological manifestations; in particular, when “acceptable,” liberal language is used. Thus, Heimat is an in-between discourse that is acceptable to be used in mainstream political and daily discourse but is employed towards white supremacist and right-wing practices.
Windel, Friederike, "An Affective Technology of Heimat: Whiteness, Nation Building and Social Media in Germany" (2023). CUNY Academic Works.
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