Insecure Belongings: A Family of Ethnic Germans from the Former Soviet Union in Germany

Jana Ballenthien, Corinne Büching


This article takes a look at the transformation of constructions of belonging during the course of life, and how they are embedded in family and collective history. Based on a case study of three women belonging to one family, who as ethnic Germans migrated in the early 1990's from the Soviet Union to Germany, we were able to demonstrate how questions of belonging were initiated by the migration process and the attributes ascribed to them in their country of arrival. Different family members were seen to perform different strategies of biographical work. This was due to their unique autobiographical experience and their belonging to different historical generations. Thus, the grandmother's experience of deportation from the Volga Republic to Siberia during the course of the Second World War was reactivated during her emigration to Germany. This reconfirmed her construction of belonging as a Volga German. Whereas after migration her daughter in law conceptualizes her belonging as a question of membership of a religious we-group. Her granddaughter, however, before and after emigration successfully searched a connection of the sense of belonging to her family of origin and her peer groups, first in Soviet society which was influenced by the predominantly Russian culture, and later in German society.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0903218


biographies of migration; construction of collective belonging; biographical work; former Soviet Union

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Copyright (c) 2009 Jana Ballenthien, Corinne Büching

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