Expanding the Concept of Heimat: A Postmigrant Perspective on Fatih Akin’s Soul Kitchen
This chapter presents a postmigrant reading of Fatih Akin’s film Soul Kitchen, which was a major success at box offices in Germany in 2009. The reading focuses on various negotiations and conflicts depicted in the film that are typical for the postmigrant condition, zooming in on three elements in particular. First, the chapter lays out how, by means of a subversive appropriation of the Heimat (homeland) film genre, Akin proffers an aesthetic redefinition of the we-group, which now – and against former concepts of the Heimat film tradition – is perceived as fundamentally diverse and made up of people with different ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, skin colours and social statuses. Second, the authors expose how the film portrays the conflictual dimension of postmigrant societies, including struggles about hierarchies and privileges. And third, there is an emphasis on how the conflicts depicted are positioned only in part around ethnic dimensions; instead of focusing mainly on a specific group in society, the conflicts in the film have to do with economic and social differences, which include struggles against the forces of gentrification and the effect of the transformation of urban spaces and living conditions. Finally, the chapter concludes with methodological and political considerations.