This article explores the miracles and ex-votos (votive offerings) associated with the Ta' Pinu shrine on Gozo, Malta's northernmost island. Drawing from ethnographic data, analysis of various personal accounts, and observations of people's interactions with the bricolage of Ta' Pinu ex-votos, I seek to show that Gozitans perform a highly personal yet ritualised form of empathy in the context of miracle worship. The miracles associated with Ta' Pinu are thus seemingly 'contagious' and meaningful, because they elicit existential connections and reflections on the nature of supplication and Gozitan social relations.
Ritualised Empathy on the Doorstep of Heaven
Heimat is commonly theorized as an entity both co-extensive with the nation and easily describable in terms of its regional peculiarities (Eigenart). To challenge this view, this article turns to sociolinguistic discussions in the press of Sudeten German expellees in the early 1950s. Rather than speaking as experts on local dialects or folklore, these newcomers resorted to Sprachkritik, a widespread postwar public form of sociolinguistic criticism, to fashion Heimat into a prescriptive, normative authority over the High German standard that they found missing in the Federal Republic. Their attacks on the West German parlance focused on inability of its consumerist diminutives to produce a coherent narrative of the period. By suggesting that Heimat's parameters superseded those of the nation, their interventions countered the widespread cliché of inarticulate, rural expellees at the same time as they put Sprachkritik on the map of West Germany's “miracle years.“
The history of the Federal Republic of Germany is closely connected with economic achievement. Enjoying a striking economic recovery in the 1950s, the FRG became the home of the “economic miracle.” Maturing into one of the most powerful economies in the world, it became known as the “German model” by the 1970s. Now, however, the chief metaphor for the German economy is “Standort Deutschland,” and therein lies the tale of the new German problem.
and defend the whole village.” 65 Parishioners venerated saints in return for the patronage they exercised on behalf of their devotees. These “holy bodies,” which performed miracles even before their solemn translation, 66 were deemed essential to
Mark E. Spicka
Perhaps the most remarkable development in the Federal Republic
of Germany since World War II has been the creation of its stable
democracy. Already by the second half of the 1950s, political commentators
proclaimed that “Bonn is not Weimar.” Whereas the
Weimar Republic faced the proliferation of splinter parties, the rise
of extremist parties, and the fragmentation of support for liberal and
conservative parties—conditions that led to its ultimate collapse—the
Federal Republic witnessed the blossoming of moderate, broadbased
parties.1 By the end of the 1950s the Christian Democratic
Union/Christian Social Union (CDU), Social Democratic Party
(SPD) and Free Democratic Party (FDP) had formed the basis of a
stable party system that would continue through the 1980s.
Nineteen eighty-nine was for me, like for so many other Europeans and in particular Central Europeans, a year of miracles. In mid-November of that year I was traveling through the United States and giving papers on working class culture, anthropology, and history. Whenever I was asked where I came from I always answered “from the continent of the revolutions.” What a joy. But I was sad that I had traveled west rather than east.
Goebbels' Wunderwaffe as Counterfactual History
The most expensive film produced in the Third Reich, Veit Harlan's Kolberg (1945) represents a culmination of Nazi cinema's interwoven ideological and artistic ambitions, aiming simultaneously to entertain, impress, and instruct spectators. Joseph Goebbels, who served as the film's unofficial executive producer, conceived it as a psychological miracle weapon capable of preserving national unity in increasingly hopeless circumstances and turning the tide of the war. In theory this was to be achieved by drawing a parallel between the civilian militia's successful defense of Kolberg during the Napoleonic Wars and Germany's situation in early 1945. However, close study of the film's production, distribution, and reception suggests that the film largely failed to achieve its propagandistic goals for a variety of factors, especially Goebbels' obsessive meddling with the script and editing process.
In Les Mots, the fatherless Sartre (‘Jean Sans-père’, to parody the title he had originally envisaged) records that: ‘Rather than the son of a dead man, I was given to understand that I was a miracle child’ (Les Mots, 13). This ‘good fortune of belonging to a dead man’ (14), he recalls a little further on, assured his status as ‘[a] marvel … a conspicuous favour of destiny, … a gratuitous and always revocable gift’ (14-15). The first delightful yet ambiguous consequence of this abstract provenance is an ‘incredible’, and sometimes unbearable, ‘lightness of being’ (13). A later and more menacing consequence is that the ‘imaginary child … from six to nine years old’, living in and through the ‘imagination [of his] intellectual exercises’ (92), discovered when he went to bed at night that he was becoming ‘a solitary adult, without father and mother, without hearth and home, almost without a name’ (94).
Hanna Schissler, ed. The Miracle Years: A Cultural History of West Germany, 1949-1968 (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2001)
Review by Johannes von Moltke
Uta G. Poiger, Jazz, Rock, and Rebels: Cold War Politics and American Culture in a Divided Germany (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 2000)
Review by Andrea Orzoff
Felix Philipp Lutz, Das Geschichtsbewußtsein der Deutschen: Grundlagen der politschen Kultur in Ost und West (Köln: Böhlau Verlag, 2000)
Review by Eric Langenbacher
Kathleen James-Chakraborty, German Architecture for a Mass Audience (London: Routledge, 2000)
Review by Eric Jarosinski
Thomas Elsaesser, Michael Wedel, eds., The BFI Companion to German Cinema (London: British Film Institute, 1999)
Review by Christian Rogowski
Jeffrey Verhey, The Spirit of 1914. Militarism, Myth, and Mobilization in Germany (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000)
Review by Frank Biess
Triadafilos Triadafilopoulos and Karen Schönwälder
With the passage of a new citizenship law in 1999 and the so-called
Zuwanderungsgesetz (Migration Law) of 2004, contemporary Germany
has gone a long way toward acknowledging its status as an immigration
country (Einwanderungsland). Yet, Germany is still regarded by
many as a “reluctant” land of immigration, different than traditional
immigration countries such as Canada, the United States, and Australia.
It owes this image to the fact that many of today’s “immigrants”
were in fact “guests,” invited to work in the Federal Republic
in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and expected to leave when they were
no longer needed. Migration was meant to be a temporary measure,
to stoke the engine of the Economic Miracle but not fundamentally
alter German society. The question, then, is how did these “guest
workers” become immigrants? Why did the Federal Republic
become an immigration country?