Narrating violent crime and negotiating Germanness: the print news media and the National Socialist Underground (NSU), 2000-2012

Josefin Graed (2017) Narrating violent crime and negotiating Germanness: the print news media and the National Socialist Underground (NSU), 2000-2012, Doctoral thesis, University of Birmingham

This thesis examines how the German print news media negotiate notions of Germanness by narrating the acts of violent crime committed by the right-wing extremist group National Socialist Underground (NSU) between 2000 and 2011. Combining Paul Ricœur’s textual hermeneutics with insights from narrative criminology as well as violence and narrative media studies, I approach the NSU as a narrative puzzle. I thereby investigate how the media narrate a murder series of nine men with a migration background, a nail bomb attack in a Turkish-dominated street and an (attempted) murder of two police officers. I compare the narratives constructed both before and after the identification of the perpetrators in November 2011. Through an extensive narrative analysis of news media discourse, I examine how notions of Germanness are negotiated through the construction of relationships between perpetrators, victims, society and the state. The key argument is that the NSU has not affected dominant perceptions of Germanness, but reinforced existing ones through the creation of a hierarchy of “‘Others’ within”: immigrants, East Germans, and (right-wing) extremists. The findings show that the interpretation of acts of violent crime, especially over extended periods of time, is rooted in everyday practices of story-telling and identity construction.

Published July 5, 2017 1:49 PM - Last modified July 5, 2017 1:49 PM