Formations of Feeling in Vietnamese Berlin
In this social-anthropological subproject, we are analysing the complex and conflictual processes that lead to the formation of transcultural emotion repertoires. Empirically, we are studying the socialization of emotions in the transnational field of Vietnamese Berlin. We are examining how far the emotion models adopted in different social contexts diverge and how the resulting affective dissonances are perceived and possibly consolidate into new ways of articulating the emotional. Hence, our interest focuses on the different feeling rules and modes of formations of feeling that confront the descendants of Vietnamese migrants in the various social spaces to which they belong (family, peers, preschools, day-care centres, clubs, occupations, etc.). We chose the term Gefühlsbildung [formation of feeling] because its range of meanings covers not only various forms of explicit childrearing but also implicit processes in which feelings are formed and bodily anchored in everyday social interactions and behavioural routines. Our project will be applying a family-biographical, intergenerational approach focusing on emotion-related childrearing practices and experiences. We aim to assess how emotion repertoires become modified in intergenerational communication processes. We shall focus particularly on the extremely heterogeneous second generation of Vietnamese immigrants whose parents came to the two different Germanys in the 1970s and 1980s under extremely different conditions – as either political refugees to the West or state-recruited contract workers to the East. We assume that these different migration contexts decisively shape the processes of the formation of feelings in the second generation.
The relevance of this topic comes from the mental and bodily anchoring of emotions: because they are deeply embedded in the corporeality of the person experiencing them, the emotion repertoires acquired during the course of socialization are not at all easy to abandon or to modify. They show a certain resistance to change and are not always consciously accessible. We understand emotional repertoires as the culturally established concepts of distinct emotions together with the verbal and nonverbal forms of expression and social practices associated with them as well as the modes of subjective emotional experience that they frame.
By studying the potentials for conflict that may arise from frictions and incompatibilities between different forms of emotion socialization, we shall be able to uncover the significant affective tensions that the descendants of migrants face in relation to both their respective parent generation and the dominant (German) society. Our research interests are twofold: (1) Through the example of Vietnamese Berlin and the main issue of the formation of transcultural emotion repertoires, we focus attention on the real lifeworld of migrants – a topic that has been broadly neglected in previous research on migration and transnationalism in social anthropology and sociology. (2) By taking a theoretical perspective, our project simultaneously makes a fundamental contribution to gaining a better understanding of contemporary societies as affective societies.