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Transnational Politics in Video Games

The Case of German Military Intervention in “Spec Ops: The Line”

Justin Court

Abstract

Political claims about the real world are abundant in video games, and the medium persuades uniquely through procedural rhetoric, the rules of behavior contained in computational code. The transnational scope of the video game industry makes it productive ground for interrogating how a game's persuasion might influence international audiences with nationally situated politics. The 2012 third-person shooter Spec Ops: The Line, produced by the German studio Yager Development, depicts the international concern of a fictional conflict in the Middle East and the atrocities of failed military intervention. The game's core procedural rhetoric, which tasks players to push ahead at all costs, cautions an international audience about the futility of deploying military power abroad, a warning that mirrors particularly German political anxieties. The game's depiction of extreme violence—and the player's participation in it—raises further questions about the cultural status of the medium in the country and abroad.

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TV Journalism, Infotainment, and Reality TV

“Team Wallraff,” “Undercover Boss,” and the 2014 Burger King Scandal in Germany (As Seen on TV!)

Jörg Neuheiser

Abstract

This article analyzes the role of tv formats in the 2014 Burger King scandal in Germany as part of the popular representation of work, work-related conflicts, and the dynamic of power relations in both contemporary German companies and the German economy in general. It shows that investigative journalistic techniques in popular tv formats like Team Wallraff are essentially undermined by the existence of reality tv shows like Undercover Boss that use comparable techniques to present fundamentally different messages about companies, work conditions, and the relationship between employees and employers. I argue that to understand the effect of these representations of politics on the “real political arena,” in Germany and elsewhere, we should consider not only individual films, tv series, genres, and media formats, but also the cross-effects of multiple, often widely differing representations of politics in similar tv formats that can be viewed via identical media outlets.

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When One Becomes Two

Man–Machine Hybridization in Urban Cyclists with Broken Bikes

Lou Therese Brandner

Abstract

In the Netherlands, where cycling is part of the “national habitus,” bicycle infrastructure is remarkably similar to car infrastructure. This article explores man–machine hybridization in the context of this spatial environment made for bikes, analyzing it through notions of human/nonhuman hybrids, cyborg bodies, and automobilized persons. The perceptions of urban cyclists who temporarily cannot cycle are explored, based on interviews with bike repair shop customers in Amsterdam. How does a broken bike impact their perception of themselves and the city? Within the sample, cyclists attribute an essential, corporeal value to their vehicles, regarding them as extensions of the body. Cycling is considered the natural way of moving through urban space, associated with freedom and independence; switching to public transportation induces feelings of dependence and handicap.

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Book Reviews

Louise K. Davidson-Schmich, Matthew Hines, Thomas Klikauer, Norman Simms, Jeffrey Luppes, Stephen Milder, Robert Nyenhuis, and Randall Newnham

John Kampfner, Why the Germans Do it Better: Notes from a Grown-Up Country (London: Atlantic Books, 2020).

Karen Hagemann, Donna Harsch, and Friederike Brühöfener, eds., Gendering Post-1945 German History: Entanglements (New York: Berghahn Books, 2019).

Daniel Marwecki, Germany and Israel: Whitewashing and Statebuilding (London: C. Hurst & Co., 2020).

Robert Gellately, Hitler's True Believers: How Ordinary People Became Nazis (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020).

Thomas Fleischman, Communist Pigs: An Animal History of East Germany's Rise and Fall (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2020).

Joanne Miyang Cho, ed., Transnational Encounters between Germany and East Asia since 1900 (New York: Routledge, 2018).

Andrew Nagorski, 1941: The Year Germany Lost the War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2019).

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Denkmalpflege, Denazification, and the Bureaucratic Manufacture of Memory in Bavaria

Lauren Schwartz

Abstract

How, in the aftermath of National Socialism and World War II, was the memory landscape of Munich and Bavaria denazified under the Office of the Military Government of the United States? Supplementing existing cultural approaches and scholarship on denazification in Bavaria, this article considers the execution of Allied Control Council Directive Number 30 by the American occupation government (omgus) in Bavaria, in conjunction with appropriated native Bavarian bureaucracies and bureaucrats, to inventory and assess the built environment in order to register militaristic or Nazi monuments and prioritize their removal or modification. The limitations of the project to renew or restore the monument landscape confront in turn the limitations on the “bureaucratic manufacture of memory” in the modification of individual memory.

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Explaining Change in Germany's Anti-corruption Policy in the Era of Chancellor Merkel

Sebastian Wolf

Abstract

Chancellor Angela Merkel's second grand coalition (2013–2017) was the most successful federal government since 2005 regarding the adoption of anti-corruption measures. This article first gives an overview of recent German anti-corruption reforms. In order to explain the varying policy outputs of Merkel's coalition governments, an analytical perspective drawing on the multiple streams approach is utilized. This theoretical perspective is then applied to the analysis of three major anti-corruption reforms. Mainly on the basis of these case studies, the article concludes that the spd was a crucial policy entrepreneur between 2013 and 2017. In former legislative periods, the Social Democrats could not advance their favored anti-corruption policies. But when the cdu and csu decided not to make full use of their veto power, the spd pushed policy change through. Analyses of anti-corruption reforms should not overlook the constellations of veto players such as coalition parties and their preferred policy options.

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Freed from Sadness and Fear

Politics, COVID-19, and the New Germany

Michael Meng and Adam R. Seipp

Abstract

This article argues that we are witnessing the possible emergence of a Germany confident in the strength of its rational and democratic approach to governance. Thinking about this development through Baruch Spinoza's insights into the centrality of reason to democracy, we suggest that Germany has responded to its past in a salutary manner by building a rational and responsible democracy. Few recent events illustrate this transformation more clearly than Germany's reaction to the covid-19 pandemic.

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Germany's Approach to Countering Antisemitism since Reunification

Thomas Just

Abstract

Since reunification in 1990, the German government has taken numerous steps to counter antisemitism and improve its relations with the Jewish community more broadly. Its approach has consisted primarily of two parts: anti-radicalization legal measures and public diplomacy. In terms of legal measures, Germany has banned hate speech and incitement, adjusted immigration policy for Jews, and granted Judaism full legal status. In terms of public diplomacy, Germany has created a network of both governmental and non-governmental organizations to counter antisemitic attitudes within domestic society and to demonstrate progress abroad. This article examines these facets of the German approach, evaluates its success through an analysis of extremist group membership and survey data measuring antisemitic attitudes, and discusses some evolving challenges to which the approach must adapt.

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Inside Contested Cultural Memory

The Alternative für Deutschland in Dresden

Bhakti Deodhar

Abstract

This article explores the role played by the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), a German right-wing political party, in the politics of memory in and of Dresden. Based on ethnographic fieldwork among AfD members and observation of the party's organization, the article demonstrates that the performative acts of local AfD members bear crucial significance in explaining the party's attempts to challenge the mainstream memory discourse that is linked to the centrality of the Holocaust. I argue that party members not only draw upon established discursive narratives of Germany's victimhood, but also find ways to skillfully adapt their messages in their efforts to achieve legitimacy. Their performative contestations have enabled the AfD to be both a beneficiary and an instigator of the shifting boundaries of what is considered admissible in Germany's official culture of memorialization.

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Aspiration and Desperation Traps in Trajectories of Physical and Social Mobility-Immobility

Young Female Migrants in the City

Ellen Bal, Hosna J. Shewly, and Runa Laila

Abstract

Over the last two decades, Bangladesh has experienced a dramatic shift in terms of female rural–urban migration, often referred to as the feminization of migration. Drawing on extensive ethnographic research on young female migrants’ livelihood experiences in Dhaka and Gazipur, this article makes three contributions to the migration and mobilities literature. First, while migration often constitutes an adequate tool for resolving desperation, it may also cause an aspiration-desperation trap. Secondly, the transformative potential of migration and mobility for changing social relations of class and gender is not always as effective as it is argued. Lastly, by focusing on the temporalities of migrants’ circumstances, we argue that migration is a continuous process in which mobility and immobility are deeply entangled.