Representing an "Authentic Ethnic Identity": Experiences of Sub-Saharan African Musicians in an Eastern German City


  • Inken Carstensen-Egwuom University of Bremen


Eastern Germany, African Immigrants, Multiculturalism, Cultural Festivals, Chemnitz, Saxony, Nigerian Music


This paper focuses on how Sub-Saharan Africans present themselves as musicians in Chemnitz, an Eastern German town of around 200,000 citizens that is situated on the periphery of existing immigrant musicians' networks in Europe. Generally, immigration to Chemnitz has been rather limited; the quota of foreign nationals is 2.9 % for the whole city. I will explore what purposes Sub-Saharan African music and dance performances serve in this context both for the majority society as well as for the immigrants, individually and as a community. In so doing, I use a case study on the yearly local "intercultural festival" and analyze what kind of local power structures, institutional and informal, economic and political, influence the Nigerian cultural association's festival performance. This analysis shows how immigrant networks or associations relate to expectations and ascriptions of "authenticity" in a small-scale city. With its focus on the local situation and its effects on the representation of immigrant groups, this paper builds on the work that Nina Glick Schiller and Ayse Caglar (2006, 2009) have done on the importance of locality for research on migration and immigrant incorporation.

Author Biography

Inken Carstensen-Egwuom, University of Bremen

Ph.D. Student, Department of Social Sciences, Institute of Geography