Alice Bota – a “New German”
When a young person has to change not only the place where they live, but also their country, their language, their surroundings and their familiar environment, things are somewhat shaky at the start: indeed this happens long before they even begin to become aware of their new perspectives. Everyone who has taken this path has been forced re find their identity in a new place and in new foreign surroundings. This has often involved a complete turnaround even before thoughts about one’s own identity and place in the new society arise. In this process and on this path everyone is left to their own fate. The basic psychological state of migrants, above all young migrants, has therefore been one of loneliness in a foreign land and a forced, premature independence: this often results in a deeply rooted, not necessarily negative, power that plays a central role in deciding on a way of life in the new surroundings.
Anger and disappointment often accompanied the younger generation migrants who arrived in Germany from Poland in the 1980s and 90s. During the crystallisation and consolidation of a new identity they were often asked whether they belonged to this country and whether this was really their homeland.
Alice Bota also went through such experiences: “A particular feeling was the trigger for this book: this feeling was anger. Anger about living in a society who simply don’t notice us; anger about being part of a change which most people would prefer not to think about; and anger about whether we should call this country “our Germany or your Germany”.
This feeling has had many different effects amongst the huge number of young Germans with Polish roots or young Poles who are permanently resident in Germany. With Alice Bota the situation produce something almost exemplary, not least in her present profession where she is exposed to public opinion: an assumption of responsibility. Responsibility for deciding on her place in society and her own way of life in Germany. Responsibility for her own “new” country, in which she could make an active contribution.
The decisive factor for Alice Bota is the context in which she chooses to act: a desire for knowledge, an uncompromising attitude to her research, the power to carry on despite setbacks, sovereignty when confronted with opposite opinions, and a particular sensitivity, that seems to arise only in the world of hybrid identities and continual multi-perspectivity. This sensitivity is surely one of the major benefits of all the knowledge she has gathered from her experiences.
This once again confirms the thesis that, in contributing to shaping a new home, on the one hand migrants in Germany must do considerably more to fulfil themselves and their lives than the members of the society which has taken them in. On the other hand it is clear that the rapid changes in this country and the huge opportunities for progressive debates can be generally regarded as inspiring our assumptions that we are all living in a common society.