Johanna d'Arc of Mongolia As the Fairy Tale of Shock Economy



In this essay, I examine the film Johanna d’Arc ofMongolia (1989), made by German director Ulrike Ottinger in the year of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I argue that it can be read as an anti-authoritarian articulation of a desire for radical public spheres better suited to serve minority interests, particularly at a time of drastic transformations of social and political conditions. The film’s narrative ambiguity should be read in the rhetorical situation of radical fairy tales in West Germany and their attempt to develop counterpublic spheres to resist the organization of experiences by the consciousness industry. Ottinger’s film, while shot mostly in Inner Mongolia during the crucial year for the reunification of Germany, is far from being escapist. The shock of the displaced lower-class heroine, so different from the “happy ending” imperative of traditional fairy tales, unveils the fiction of a neoliberal economy that considers people and land as mere commodities. Like Karl Polanyi, Ottinger wants to empower people to question the assumption that they had to accept major displacements and flexibility in the name of a self-regulating market. The fairy tale, as a contested genre related to education, is a primary field for this struggle.

Keywords: Ulrike Ottinger, Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia, radical fairy tales, Miriam Hansen, Oskar Negt, Alexander Kluge, Karl Polanyi, Friedrich Schiller, radical public sphere

How to Cite: Madella, A. (2022) “Johanna d'Arc of Mongolia As the Fairy Tale of Shock Economy”, Poroi. 17(1). doi: