States and standardization: constructing co-ethnic migrant identity in Germany
This article addresses the standardization of co-ethnic return migrant narratives in Germany. Borrowing the concept of “standards” from Timmermans and Epstein, the author analyses how the German state produces and distributes certain texts about co-ethnic migration history over others, leading to the formation of a standardized, legible, and homogenous narrative of co-ethnic return migrant identity. The article is based on a critical discourse analysis of widely distributed texts relating to Russian-German history and a narrative analysis of biographical interviews with co-ethnic Germans residing in Germany. The study helps us to identify the mechanisms by which states homogenize narratives, and to understand which co-ethnic history and identity constructions are reproduced by the state, and which are silenced.