Transcending Borders: Sheila Mysorekar’s Reflections on Transnational Identities

  • Abstract:

    The Indian-German essayist, poet, and journalist Sheila Mysorekar is a strong voice in debates about racism, multiculturalism and transnational identities in Germany. She consistently addresses human rights and minority concerns in her writing and uses satire as an effective strategy to underscore her arguments. For her identities are political. She discusses growing up with a dark skin in a predominantly white environment. To combat her isolation in German society, Mysorekar formed coalitions with black Germans and other minority and migrant groups. She defines black politically to encompass all people of color from former colonies of the “Third World.” For Mysorekar blackness is inclusive and transcends national and ethnic boundaries. In keeping with her strong voice for minorities in Germany Mysorekar collaborated with the Turkish-German comedian and cabaret artist Fatih Çevikkollu on Der Moslem-TÜV (2008). They apply TÜV, an abbreviation of Technischer Überwachungs-Verein, responsible for ensuring the safety of such products as vehicles, satirically to a test for German citizenship designed to “protect” Germans from Muslims. In 2009 Mysorekar published her own satires Dienstags gibt es Tantra-Sex: Politische Satiren über Rassismus, Sex und den Neandertaler (Tuesdays There is Tantra-Sex: Political Satires About Racism, Sex and the Neanderthal) in which she satirizes a wide variety of cultural and political practices, including issues of migration and concerns about illegal immigration. The first and only “pure” European, she writes, was the Neanderthal who was later displaced by hordes of illegal African immigrants, namely the intelligent Homo sapiens. Therefore, she concludes, the ancestors of all Germans were illegal immigrants. Mysorekar deconstructs notions of identity based on race and, using her daughter, who is of Indo-Anglo-German-African-Italian-Argentinean-Chilean heritage, as an example, she gives a nuanced picture of multi-ethnic identities, which in her view undermine notions of a “homeland,” tied to place and transcend borders and boundaries.