Mi / 10:00 – 11:30

Migration to Germany

Humorous Representation of Cultural Identities on Social Media

Nele Lenze, Deutsche Welle Akademie

Online (Zoom) & Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen (KWI), Raum 106, Goethestr. 31, 45128 Essen

Social media has become a significant medium for expressing cultural and political identities through the dissemination of videos and images. These (self-)representations are especially found in memes, gifs, and videos by first- and second-generation migrants. Platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube offer numerous examples of humorous explorations of this theme. This talk will present various examples of Indian and Vietnamese cultural practitioners reflecting on their experiences in Germany and contrasting them with their own cultural  identity.

One outstanding example is TikToker’s Uyen Ninh. With fine observations of German culture and her own cultural identity, she manages to entertain a large audience while drawing attention to important issues. In doing so, her videos use humor to highlight stereotypical portrayals of society and differences between those who have stayed at home and those who have emigrated. The focus is primarily on the description of the different and newly found identities through migration to Germany. Emigrants take on different social roles depending on whether they are in their home countries or in Germany.

In this talk, videos and Instagram posts will be used as concrete examples to illustrate the humorous interpretation of cultural identity and power structures. These videos and memes reach a wide audience, sometimes millions of viewers from around the world. This demonstrates how social media provides a unique space for the expression and discussion of cultural identities and migration experiences.