Black German Studies (BGS) has experienced significant growth over the past three decades outside of and within the academy, integrating disciplines such as Gender Studies, Diaspora Studies, History, Media, and Performance Studies.
The past decade saw an increase in the volume and visibility of Black German cultural productions. The launching of Black British author Sharon Otoo’s English-language Witnessed Series (2012), as a space for Black German cultural expression, has expanded
the transnational dialogue first initiated with the translation of the volume Farbe bekennen (1986) in 1992. These developments continue, especially with the Ballhaus Naunynstraße’s staging of a month-long celebration in September 2013 entitled, Black
Lux: Ein Heimatfest aus Schwarzen Perspektiven, which showcased Black German aesthetic productions across multiple genres in Berlin.
The Black Book: Deutschlands Häutungen, Not So Plain as Black and White, and Mythen Masken und Subjekte, as well as historical analyses of race relations and racial discourse outlined by Katharina Oguntoye, Fatima
El-Tayeb, Tina Campt, and Maria Höhn represent the significant academic output and impact that BGS has had in the past decades. These works along with those of Leslie Adelson, Rita Chin, and Andreas Huyssen have interrogated the categories of race, gender,
diaspora, and nation within the German multicultural context. As a result, this seminar asks where the field is now? This seminar explores the nuances of how the colonial, Weimar, National Socialist, post-1945, and post-Wende pasts inform the present
and the future of BGS; how present generations of Black Germans look to those of the past for direction; how discourses shift due to diverse power structures; and how Black Germans affirm their agency and cultural identity through cultural productions, engendering
counter-discourses and counter-narratives. In appraising BGS as a critical, hermeneutic field of inquiry, participants will complicate narratives, interrogate interdisciplinary methods, and introduce theoretical approaches to advance the field. The seminar
is organized around three themes: Practices, Productions, and Progressions.
Afro-German poet May Ayim’s inclusion of Ghanaian Adinkra symbols into her collections offers one example of integrated practices used to express the “textured identities” (Campt) of Black Germans in their cultural (con)texts. Exploring
Black German intellectual, cultural, and artistic practices this session questions: What other African diasporic practices have been and are being utilized and transformed by current generations of Black Germans? What German cultural elements have Black Germans
re-imagined or repurposed through their works? What transnational trends and technologies have been employed?
The cultural productions of People of Color (particularly, Women of Color) embody the idea of the “Fugitive Archetype of Resistance” (Ajalon), by escaping classification and rendering categorization obsolete via elision of ‘clearly’
delineated boundaries. Examining the range of genres through which Black German subjectivity is polyphonically (Bhaktin) performed, this session investigates how norms are made visible; generic conventions are combined, mixed, and adapted; and new spaces are
created and imagined for individual and collective expression vis-à-vis contemporary Black German productions, evinced, for example, in the performances of the Berlin-based theater troupe, Label Noir.
This final session explores how Black German identity, activism, and politics coincide with current developments in the socio-political landscape of contemporary Germany. From the Kinderbuch- and Blackfacingdebatten to
the court cases abolishing the legality of racial profiling and Karamba Diaby’s delegation as the first Black German parliament member in 2013, this session interrogates how positive change has been enacted and what (f)actors, including Merkel’s comment on
the failures of multiculturalism, Thilo Sarrazin’s publication, and the integration debate, have worked to inhibit the improvement of race relations and social equality in the German nation.
Feel free to contact the conveners with any questions:
Tiffany Florvil ([log in to unmask])
Vanessa Plumly ([log in to unmask])