Dealing Creatively with Ethnic Classifications

Three Questions to Urmila Goel and Nisa Punnamparambil-Wolf

Julia Jürgens
Urmila Goel and Nisa Punnamparambil-Wolf presented their book InderKinder - Über das Aufwachsen und Leben in Deutschland (Indian-Children: on Growing Up and Living in Germany, published by Drapaudi Verlag) at the Jewish Museum Academy on 20 March 2014. It was the third in a series of events on “New German Stories” where, with the aid of individual biographies, we examine Germany’s historical and current status as an immigration society. On this occasion we focused on children of immigrants from India, who gained public awareness for the first time during the “Green Card” campaign of 2000.

On 19 March 2014 Julia Jürgens conducted a short interview with the two editors Urmila Goel and Nisa Punnamparambil-Wolf and asked them the following tree questions:

Julia Jürgens: What made you choose this title?

Urmila Goel und Nisa Punnamparambil-Wolf: We’re referring with this title to the marginalizing “Kinder statt Inder” (children instead of Indians) campaign of the year 2000. The wordplay of InderKinder (Indian-children) is meant ironically: it was important to us to find a creative way to deal with these attributions. With the book, we want to show the varied ways that people who grew up and live in Germany handle the classification of being a child of Indian immigrants.

On the cover you can see a photo of three playing children

Book cover; Draupadi Verlag

Julia Jürgens: The book consists of two parts, autobiographical stories and essays. How would you explain your concept?

Urmila Goel und Nisa Punnamparambil-Wolf: The people who contributed to the book are second generation Indian immigrants. Their stories include autobiographical observations but go beyond the autobiographical too. The essays in the second part are written from an academic perspective, reflecting on what these stories and experiences might say about our society. InderKinder isn’t an academic book, however. It’s a book for anyone interested in stories of migration.

Portrait of a woman wearing a sliding cap and looking directly into the camera

Portrait of Urmila Goel; Urmila Goel

Julia Jürgens: Indians remain a less visible group at large, relative to other immigrants: are there advantages or disadvantages to not being the focus of immigration debates?

Urmila Goel und Nisa Punnamparambil-Wolf: The “Kinder statt Inder” campaign and the discussions about so-called “Computer Indians” demonstrated what it means to get more attention. It’s definitely an ambivalent experience. On the one hand, people who have a familial connection to India were finally seen; they got to tell their stories. On the other hand, there was more hostility and more negative emphasis on them. The attention on Indians as a model minority – the most educated and best integrated – is also equivocal, because it can be used to denigrate other immigrant groups. We also discuss this in the book.

The questions were posed by Julia Jürgens (Academy program on migration and diversity).

Portrait of a woman, beach and sea in the background

Portrait of Nisa Punnamparambil-Wolf; Nisa Punnamparambil-Wolf

Citation recommendation: 
Julia Jürgens (2014), InderKinder
Dealing Creatively with Ethnic Classifications. Three Questions to Urmila Goel and Nisa Punnamparambil-Wolf.
Interview Series (12) New German Stories Show all

New German Stories

Since 2014, our colleagues from the Academy program on migration and diversity have been holding regular events at the Jewish Museum in a series called New German Stories. The guests' lives speak to Germany, past and present, as a society of migration, and the events take these life stories as a springboard for exploring these themes. Beforehand, the guests are almost always interviewed. We have compiled these interviews for you here.

Karamba Diaby

26 May 2017
“We should close this representation gap”

Anita Awosusi

6 February 2017
On her book Our Father – A Sinti Family Recounts

Ármin Langer

18 October 2016
“The boredom of peaceful coexistence“

Marion Kraft

6 July 2016
"The part Black soldiers played in the liberation of Germany from Nazism has been largely neglected"

Çiçek Bacık

13 October 2015
“We’ve always been spoken and written about”

Fereshta Ludin

16 September 2015
“I wish more people would look in my eyes instead of at my scarf”

David Ranan

6 July 2015
“Other but not foreign”

Ahmad Milad Karimi

9 March 2015
On his book Osama bin Laden is Sleeping with Fishes

Alina Gromova

8 September 2014
Generation “kosher light”
Young Jews of Russian descent in Berlin

Canan Turan

4 July 2014
Kıymet or:
A cinematic tribute to my grandmother

Urmila Goel and Nisa Punnamparambil-Wolf

19 March 2014
Dealing creatively with ethnic classifications

Alice Bota, Khuê Pham, and Özlem Topçu

29 January 2014
“New German stories”