Whiteness and nostalgia: Twenty-First-Century German representations of Techno's beginnings in Berlin and Detroit

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter investigates nostalgia for the 1990s as a cultural practice of whiteness in Germany’s techno scene. While scholarship on Detroit techno focuses on constructions of Blackness, German representations of nostalgia for techno’s beginnings reveal an unmarked whiteness associated with Germany’s techno scene. I explore what these representations reveal about the structural effects of whiteness: techno is set apart from more racially marked genres such as hip-hop, and Blackness as envisioned by Detroit techno producers elides the identities and experiences specific to Black musicians and other artists of colour in Germany. I analyse the exhibition nineties.berlin (2018–9) alongside Thomas Meinecke’s novel 'Hellblau' (2001). These very different representations by white creators explore two contrasting but linked forms of nostalgia: reimagining early techno as a homogenous white movement due to its racially unmarked status, and mourning techno’s supposedly lost Black past in Detroit. Both forms idealize techno’s origins and preserve racialized power asymmetries. Yet nineties.berlin and especially 'Hellblau' suggest that emotional attachment to the past can also motivate change, inspiring self-scrutiny and imagination as first steps in marking whiteness and combatting its effects.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGerman pop music in literary and transmedial perspectives
EditorsUwe Schütte
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherPeter Lang
ISBN (Electronic)9781789976557, 9781789976564
ISBN (Print)9781789976540
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameStudies in modern German and Austrian literature
ISSN (Print)2235-3488


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