From the 1980s to the early 2010s, intercultural novels were often characterized by a liberal impulse to question prejudices and free characters from victim positions as well as cultural and identity-political constraints. This process has been analyzed and sometimes celebrated by scholars in countless literary studies claiming that hybrid actors and multivoiced narratives have replaced passive tales of suffering. More recent novels replace the heterogeneity and freedom of narrative agents with their experiential vulnerability and perceptions of discrimination. The central thesis of this essay is that this shift from freedom to vulnerability closely correlates with the disappearance of figural effects of mediation. The disappearance of a mediating function, which according to Georg Simmel is what makes face-to-face interaction social in the first place, fundamentally changes the intercultural narrative situation, the structure of encounter, and ultimately the forms of sociability in postmigration society. For the future of diversity-oriented and interdisciplinary research in German studies, it will be crucial to grasp this change precisely to develop new theories of inter- and transculturality from these insights.

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