Friday, March 18, 2011

2nd Workshop of the YSN "Black Diaspora and Germany"


Sandra Gunning, Tera W. Hunter and Michele Mitchell posited in 2003* that “[t]he use of gender as a category of analysis remains something of a challenge for African Diaspora studies.” Stephen Small later argued: “[O]ne does not and cannot define, conceptualize, theorize, or research the Black Diaspora in Europe without bringing gender ideologies and the experiences of Black women to the foreground.”**

The focus of the second “Black Diaspora in Germany” Young Scholars Network workshop entails three aspects. First, we will address the theoretical and methodological implications of the issue of gender within the Black Diaspora in Europe. The social construct known as the Diaspora can neither transcend gender, nor can it serve as an epistemological or historical category of analysis without careful consideration of the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Utilising the theoretical and methodological interface between Diaspora and Gender Studies, we seek to underscore the significance of gender in our analysis and theorisation of Black diasporic experiences in Europe and with a particular focus on Germany.
Secondly, this workshop will examine and analyse the development of a collective Afro-/Black German identity and this group’s political activism during the mid-1980s and thereafter. The emergence of a self-defined name, e.g., Afro-/Black German, and “imagined” Black diasporic community in West Germany was primarily advanced by Afro-/Black German female activists and based on specifically ‘Black female’ experiences and analyses. African American feminists, and other feminists of colour contested the construction of a Black Diaspora based on universalized patriarchal parameters. These women notably influenced not only Afro-/Black German activism, but also the development of Afro-/Black German Studies.
Lastly, the workshop will call into question constructions of Black masculinities and femininities, along with the issue of agency and counter-discourses of Black men and women throughout various periods of German historiography.
The members of the organising team cordially invite you to the workshop “Gendering the Black Diaspora”. We are delighted to have with us as keynote speakers: Dr. Gloria Wekker, Professor at the Institute for Media and Culture Studies and Director of GEM, Centre of Expertise on Gender, Ethnicity and Multiculturality, Universiteit Utrecht; and Judy Gummich, long-time Human Rights activist, Black Feminist and Diversity Trainer. We are also happy to announce that Author and Producer Prof. Dr. Dagmar Schultz, emer., will be with us to introduce a new film project on Audre Lorde’s years in Berlin, which is scripted and directed by Filmmaker Zara Zandieh, and to present the film “Hoffnung im Herz: Mündliche Poesie – May Ayim” by Maria Binder.
The workshop organisers: Susann Lewerenz, Cassandra Ellerbe-Dueck and Katharina Gerund willl present conference papers, and anticipate two days of lively and interesting discussions.

The “Gendering the Black Diaspora” workshop will take place at Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg on 15 April 2011 and 16 April 2011. For travel and accommodation information, please see below.
For further information and conference registration, please contact the workshop organisers at
Should you need any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us!
Susann Lewerenz, Cassandra Ellerbe-Dueck, Katharina Gerund

* Sandra Gunning, Tera W. Hunter and Michele Mitchell, Introduction: Gender, Sexuality, and African Diaspora, in: Gender & History, Vol 15, No. 3 (Special Issue: Dialogues of Dispersal: Gender, Sexuality and African Diasporas, ed. by Sandra Gunning, Tera W. Hunter and Michele Mitchell), November 2003, pp. 398 f.

** Stephen Small, Introduction: The Empire Strikes Back, in: Black Europe and African Diaspora, ed. by Darlene Clark Hine, Trica Danielle Keaton and Stephen Small, Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press 2009, p. xxviii.


Friday, 15 April 2011

Until 14:00 Arrival and registration

14:00-14:30 Workshop opening
Prof. Dr. Heike Paul (Erlangen-Nürnberg)
Dr. Cassandra Ellerbe-Dueck, Katharina Gerund and Susann Lewerenz

14:30-15:30 Dr. Cassandra Ellerbe-Dueck (Mannheim)
“The Matrilineal Diaspora: Black/Afro-German Women, Claiming Space & Finding Their Voices”
Chair: Cedric Essi (Erlangen-Nürnberg)

15:30-16:30 Katharina Gerund (Düsseldorf)
“The Sound of Solidarity: Angela Davis, Gender(ed) Politics, and (Protest) Songs”
Chair: Cedric Essi

16:30-17:00 Coffee break

Judy Gummich (Berlin) – Human Rights Activist & Diversity Trainer
“Between Racism and Empowerment – Perspectives on Being Black in Germany”
Chair: Dr. Cassandra Ellerbe-Dueck

18:30-18:45 Short break

18:45-19:30 Film screening
“Hoffnung im Herz: Mündliche Poesie – May Ayim”, a film by Maria Binder, introduction: Prof. Dr. Dagmar Schultz, emer. (Berlin)
Chair: Susann Lewerenz (Hamburg)

19:45 Dinner
Venue: Zen - Cocktail Bar & Thai Restaurant, Theaterplatz 22, 91054 Erlangen

Saturday, 16 April 2011

9:00-10:00 Prof. Dr. Dagmar Schultz (Berlin) – emer., Author and Producer
“‘Audre Lorde – the Berlin Years’ – a Project in Progress”
Chair: Carmen Dexl (Erlangen-Nürnberg)

10:00-11:00 Susann Lewerenz (Hamburg)
“How Thea Leyseck became ‘German Southwest African’ – Colonial Revisionism, Gender, and Black Agency in Nazi Germany”
Chair: Carmen Dexl

11:00-11:30 Coffee break

Prof. Dr. Gloria Wekker (Utrecht)
“Diving Into the Wreck. Reflections on Gender in the Black Diaspora”
Chair: Katharina Gerund

13:00-13:30 Plenary session
Introductory remarks: Prof. Dr. Heike Paul
Chair: Dr. Cassandra Ellerbe-Dueck

13:45-15:00 Lunch
Venue: TiO - Bar & Restaurant, Südliche Stadtmauerstraße 1a, 91054 Erlangen

Departure of workshop participants

15:00-15:45 Discussion of organisational matters
For members of the YSN “Black Diaspora and Germany”

15:45 End of workshop

Workshop venue:
Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Amerikanistik/American Studies, Bismarckstr. 1c, 91054 Erlangen, Room C 301

Contact and registration:
Deadline for registrations: 8 April 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

Travel and Accommodation

Conference Venue

The workshop will take place at Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg. The conference venue is located at Bismarckstr. 1C, Erlangen and is approximately a 15 minute walk from Erlangen’s main station (Bahnhof).

How to get to Erlangen

By plane
The airport closest to Erlangen is Nürnberg (NUE). A taxi ride from Nürnberg airport to Erlangen takes about half an hour and costs about EUR 25,-. You can also get on the subway to Nuremberg main station (U 2) and from there to Erlangen’s main station (Bahnhof) by train, which costs about EUR 6,-.

If you fly into Frankfurt (FRA) or München (MUC), you must allow roughly 2.5 h for your train ride to Erlangen. For departure times and fares, visit the Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) website ( and enter “Erlangen Bahnhof” as your destination.

By train
For departure times and fares visit the Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) website ( and enter “Erlangen Bahnhof” as your destination.


The following hotels and hostels in Erlangen are located within walking distance to the conference venue:

Altmann’s Stube Hotel, Theaterplatz 9, 91054 Erlangen, +49 9131-89160
Single from 66,-, double from 82,-

Hotel Rokoko Haus, Theaterplatz 13, 91054 Erlangen, +49 9131-7830
Single from 72,-, double from 110,-

Hotelchen am Theater, Theaterstraße 10, 91054 Erlangen, +49 9131-80860
Single from 75,-, double from 107,-

Hotel Bayerischer Hof, Schuhstraße 13, 91052 Erlangen, +49 9131-7850
Single from 85,50, double from 99,-

Apartment Hotel Kral, Luitpoldstr. 77, 91052 Erlangen, +49 9131-810090
Single from 120,-

Der graue Wolf, Hauptstraße 80, 91054 Erlangen, +49 9131-810645
Single from 48,-, double from 70,-

Hotel König Otto, Henkestr. 56, 91054 Erlangen, +49 9131-8780
Single from 89,-, double from 116,-

Hotel La Brasserie, Nürnberger Str. 3, 91054 Erlangen, +49 9131-206080
Single from 68,-, double from 88,-

A. B. Hotel, Harfenstr. 1C, 91054 Erlangen, +49 9131-9244700
Single from 30,- plus 5,- breakfast, double from 45,- plus 5,- breakfast

Jugendherberge Erlangen Frankenhof, Südliche Stadtmauerstr. 35, 91054 Erlangen, +49 9131 862555
From 18,-

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Inaugural Workshop Report

Transcending Diaspora: Whiteness, Performativity, and the Politics of the Body
December 3-4, 2010
WWU Muenster, Germany

Report by Holger Droessler (Harvard University)

The history of Black people in Germany remains a rather underdeveloped subject in contemporary research. In recent years, however, a diverse range of scholars working in various disciplines have devoted increased attention to the historical experiences and present-day lives of people of color living in Germany.  On December 3-4, 2010 a group of young scholars working on the history and present of the Black Diaspora in Germany convened at the University of Muenster for the Inaugural Workshop of a new academic network funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Beside two keynote lectures from renowned experts on the topic, four members of the Young Scholars Network “Black Diaspora and Germany” presented from their current research projects. The first workshop “Transcending Diaspora: Whiteness, Performativity, and the Politics of the Body” was designed to address theoretical questions in the study of Black people in Germany such as the adequacy of the concept ‘Diaspora’ itself.

In their opening remarks, network founder CHRISTINA OPPEL, network chair SILKE STROH, and associated professor MARIA DIEDRICH (all WWU Muenster) stressed the importance of having an institutional basis for young scholars interested in the experiences of Black people in Germany. They went on to point out the need for interdisciplinary exchange and highlighted the network’s critical political responsibility in accounting for present and past inequalities. The network consists of fifteen permanent members based in Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States representing academic disciplines as varied as history, sociology, (Black) German, (African) American Studies, and ethnology. In a series of six workshops over three years the Young Scholars Network aims to bring together scholars from various disciplines and advance scholarship on the history and present of the Black Diaspora in Germany.

The first presentation by CHRISTINA OPPEL (WWU Muenster) addressed the question whether “Diaspora” validly assumes exclusivity and hegemony in theorizations of Black transnationalism. Taking on its purely enabling function for Afro-German experiences, Oppel assessed silencing mechanisms and forms of ‘speaking for Others’ with a view to their impact on Black agency and the status of the Afro-German subject in a German context. Based on a close reading of Marie Nejar’s life memoir Mach nicht so traurige Augen, weil du ein Negerlein bist (2007) Oppel first illustrated the problematic legacy of white authorization of Black experiences and relations of power. Co-authored by a white German ‘autobiographer’, Nejar’s biography raises the question of the relationship between narrative text and Nejar’s own voice. Presented as a dissensual, yet non-challenging Bildungsroman, Nejar’s coming-of-age as an Afro-German child actress in the Third Reich and as Schlager singer in postwar Germany was geared towards the white German mainstream market as an alternative Holocaust narrative that encourages white ‘literary humanitarianism’. In a second step, Oppel investigated counterhegemonic strategies that negotiate and reject diasporic association as a means to claim Germanness and selfhood and thus problematized definitions of Diaspora membership from outside or by Afro-Germans themselves. Taking these critical diasporic negotiations seriously, she argued, a glance ‘beyond’ the diasporic offers valuable perspectives to reassess Diaspora from a critical perspective.

The question of power and agency in defining diasporic experiences also played an important part in the second presentation by FRANK MEHRING (FU Berlin). Taking Lutz Beckmann’s installation “RE-EDUCATION” as a starting point, Mehring called for a new critical look at postwar re-education efforts by the U.S. occupation authorities, foregrounding the often-neglected role of race. His talk addressed the nexus between re-education, the specific functions of Americanization, self-Americanization, and multi-racial tolerance in postwar Germany. Asking about the underlying reasons, cultural assumptions and socio-political integration of Afro-German children, Mehring compared the visual narratives in German films such as Robert Stemmle’s Toxi (1952) with articles (and photos) by the EBONY staff writer Hans J. Massaquoi. German national identity, Mehring concluded, came to be constructed in part by instrumentalizing Blackness and suppressing racial indeterminacy in postwar West German society. By complicating the alleged success story of democratization, he suggested that the issue of misrecognition in the case of Afro-Germans challenges us to redirect the analytical flashlight towards issues of failed integration, imagined reeducation, and gaps in social justice.

In the first keynote lecture by ALEXANDER WEHELIYE (Northwestern University, Evanston, USA), visual markers of race figured prominently. Drawing from his forthcoming book, Weheliye put W.E.B. Du Bois’s and Walter Benjamin’s oeuvres into a virtual dialogue to illustrate their critique of modernity understood as scientific progress. In his discussion of Du Bois’s The Philadelphia Negro and Benjamin’s writings on photography and anthropology, Weheliye identified several common  themes in the work of these two ‘marginal’ critics of Eurocentric modernity: liminality, urbanity, the colonial roots of modernity, and, perhaps most significantly, their common view that modern science hides the inescapable centrality of chance in human life. By connecting Du Bois and Benjamin in suggestive ways, Weheliye’s talk highlighted processes of diasporic identification across the Atlantic and raised the question of the model function of Jewish conceptions of Diaspora for People of Color.

The second day of the workshop was opened by TINA CAMPT (Duke University, Durham, USA) who showed a series of unpublished photographs of Afro-Germans growing up in Nazi Germany. Borrowing from Harvey Young, Campt addressed the concept of Diaspora in its tension between displacement and stasis. Like Weheliye, Campt stressed the fundamental ambiguity of visual culture in articulating racial and national belonging. Attentive to the haptic quality of her photographic sources, Campt argued for an understanding of Diaspora as a creative act of dwelling, as a form of home-making in the fluidity of lived experience. Diaspora, according to Campt, is not merely founded on collective suffering, but, crucially, also on shared experiences in the new places of dwelling. After the talk, participants discussed the political stakes involved in foregrounding the vernacular photography of Black life in 1930s and 40s Germany as a counterweight to the much-analyzed iconicity of Holocaust images.

Following the inspiring keynote lectures, two network members concluded the workshop with presentations on possible theoretical alternatives to the concept of Diaspora in the study of Black people in Germany. SILKE STROH (WWU Muenster) drew from her research in Postcolonial Studies and the history of the Black Diaspora in Britain to explore the concept of ‘transperipherality.’ According to Stroh, transperipherality describes attempts to identify parallels between histories of marginalization and violence experienced by different social and racial groups across the globe, as well as parallel strategies of resistance, and efforts to develop solidarity and strategic alignments between such groups. Stroh cited the transatlantic career of Afro-Caribbean writer and activist George Padmore in the 1930s as an example of transperipheral writing and activism. Despite some analytical shortcomings of the concept (such as the danger of reifying center-periphery dichotomies and glossing over internal conflicts among groups defined as ‘peripheral’), Stroh concluded on a tentatively optimistic note as to the potential usefulness of transperipherality to address and compare historical experiences of racialized groups usually thought of as isolated from each other.

In the final presentation, HOLGER DROESSLER (Harvard University, Cambridge, USA) proposed another analytical category to supplement the concept of Diaspora in the study of Black people in Germany: the body. Taking the corporeal turn in the humanities as his point of departure, Droessler differentiated between the physical, discursive, and identitarian dimension of the body. The racialization, gendering, and ableing of bodies, he went on to argue, distributed life chances in unequal ways. Slavery, colonialism, and the Holocaust are merely the most blatant examples for the dehumanizing effects of racial body politics. More recent examples for the centrality of the body as an analytical category in the study of Black people in Germany include exoticizing representations of Africans and Afro-Germans in the media coverage of the soccer world championships in South Africa in summer 2010 and the renaissance of biological racism in genetic research. Droessler concluded that paying more attention to the materiality of the body would not do away with the category of Diaspora altogether, but rather add another important angle from which to study the experience of Black people in Germany and beyond.

In the concluding roundtable discussion a consensus emerged among the network members, associated scholars, and audience members that the category of Diaspora remains indispensable to studying the experience of Black people in Germany. However, more adequate definitions need to be found that attend to the changing relations among members of the Black Diaspora and problematize the distribution between predominantly white academics and Black historical agents. The lived experiences of diasporic belonging has to be kept in focus in applying the concept. The second workshop of the Young Scholars Network Black Diaspora and Germany scheduled for April 15-16, 2011 in Erlangen will address the issue of gender in Black German diasporic contexts.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

YSN Inaugural Workshop: Transcending Diaspora: Whiteness, Performativity and the Politics of the Body

The inaugural workshop of the DFG Young Scholars Network “Black Diaspora and Germany“ will take place in Muenster, Germany on December 3-4, 2010. It will address the potential and limitations of current conceptualizations of diaspora as a category of analysis and identity construction in the German context.
It is the two-fold aim of the workshop to, first, question and re-evaluate the suitability of the terminology of a ‘Black diaspora’ in the case of Germany and to determine the factors that differentiate the Black diaspora from other collective identities. Second, theoretical approaches in current Black diaspora scholarship that have so far been neglected will be further developed and empirically substantiated. Based on specific case studies, the concept of diaspora will be located within the force field of nationality, transnationality, and ethnicity and interrogated as to its transgressive potential. Exemplary studies dealing with the interdependencies of the body, politics, ethnicity, culture, the territorial state and deterritorialized identities will illuminate transnational parameters and transcultural practices and deconstruct essentializing definitions of diaspora.
The thematic spectrum of the workshop participants ranges from counterhegemonic approaches rooted in critical whiteness studies over analyses of the performativity of diaspora to aspects of body history that understands physical as well as imagined bodies as arenas of power and discursive conflict.

The Workshop is organised jointly
by Christina Oppel, Silke Stroh, Holger Droessler and Frank Mehring

Confirmed Keynote Speakers

Prof. Dr. Tina Campt (Associate Professor of Women's Studies, History and German, Duke University; Visiting Professor of Women's and Africana Studies , Barnard College, Columbia University)

Prof. Dr. Alexander Weheliye (Associate Professor of English, African American Studies, Northwestern University)

Network Participants Presenting at the Workshop

Christina Oppel (English Seminar, WWU Muenster)

Dr. Frank Mehring (JFK Institute, FU Berlin)
Holger Droessler, MA (Harvard / LMU Muenchen)

Dr. Silke Stroh (English Seminar, WWU Muenster)

For further information and conference registration contact the workshop organizers at bdg[ad]

Inaugural Workshop Program "Transcending Diaspora"

Friday, December 3    
2.30pm      Workshop Opening
                  Maria I. Diedrich (Münster)
                  Silke Stroh (Münster)
                  Christina Oppel (Münster)
3-4pm        Workshop Paper 1
Christina Oppel (Münster): Transcending Diaspora? Relations of Power, (Dis)identification and the Human
4-4.30pm   Coffee Break
4.30-5.30   Workshop Paper 2
Frank Mehring (Berlin), Performing Anthropological Authenticity: Franz Boas, Zora Neale Hurston, and the Transatlantic Blues
5.30-6pm   Break
6-7.30        Keynote 1  
                  Alexander Weheliye (Northwestern University)
Without Comparison: W.E.B. Du Bois's and Walter Benjamin's Modernities

(H19, Englisches Seminar, Johannisstrasse 12-20, 48143 Münster)
8pm           Dinner
Saturday, December 4
9.00-10.30 Keynote 2  
                  Tina Campt (Duke/Columbia)
                  Diaspora and/in Stasis 

                        (H19, Englisches Seminar, Johannisstrasse 12-20, 
                   48143 Münster)

10.30-11.00 Coffee Break
11-12am    Workshop Paper 3
Silke Stroh (Münster), Transperipherality as a Model for Diaspora Studies? Interfaces of Race, Class and (Post)colonialism
12-1pm      Workshop Paper 4
Holger Drössler (Harvard),
Resistant Bodies: Towards an Analytics of the Body in African Diaspora Studies
1:30pm      Lunch: Schlossgarten Café
                  Schlossgarten 4, 
                  48149 Münster (hinter dem Schloss)

2:30-3:30  Roundtable Discussion
Transcending Diaspora? Concepts and Contexts
3:30-4:30 Discussion of Organisational Matters
(Network Members only)
4:30pm      End of Workshop

Accomodation in Muenster

We Recommend the Following Hotels,
Please check availabilities and prices for December 3 and 4, 2010. Due to Muenster's popularity during its Christmas-Market season prices may increase.


Fine hotel with an ambitious restaurant. Quiet location but near lots of pubs, restaurants and shops.
Überwasserstraße 3 (5 min walk to the conference venue)
phone: +49 (0)251 – 417 70; fax: +49 (0)251 – 417 71 00
Single room, shower/WC: 91 €
Breakfast included

AGORA: das Hotel am Aasee
Bismarckallee 5 (15 min walk to the conference venue)
phone: +49 (0)251 – 484 26 0; fax: +49 (0)251 – 837 97 26
Single room, shower/WC: 60 €
Double room, shower/WC: 90 € (as single room: 70 €)
Breakfast included

AGORA: das Seehotel
Good value for money. Newest hotel in town (2008). Great lake views. WLAN available (2 €/4 hours).
Bismarckallee 47 (20 min walk to the conference venue)
phone: +49 (0)251 - 484 26 88 8; fax: +49 (0)251 - 484 26 86 0
Single room, shower/WC: 70 €
Double room, shower/WC: 100 € (as single room: 80 €)
Breakfast included
Single room with own wash basin, shared bathroom: 40 €; students 30 €
Double room with own wash basin, shared bathroom: 48 €; students 40 €
Breakfast: 9,50 €

ibis HOTEL Münster
Engelstraße 53 (15 min walk to the conference venue)
phone: +49 (0)251 - 481 30; fax: +49 (0)251 - 481 33 33
Single room, shower/WC: 76.26 €
Breakfast included

Neubrückenstraße 12-14 (15 min walk to the conference venue)
phone: +49 (0)251 - 899 78 0; fax: +49 (0)251 - 899 78 29
Single room, shower/WC: 62 €
Breakfast included

Eisenbahnstraße 12 (15 min walk to the conference venue)
phone: +49 (0)251 - 417 20; fax: +49 (0)251 - 417 29 9
Single room, shower/WC (look onto the road): 104 €
Single room, shower/WC (look onto the "Promenade"): 119 €
Studio: 116 €
Breakfast included

Hörsterstraße 25 (10 min walk to the conference venue)
phone: +49 (0)251 - 418 62 0; fax: +49 (0)251 - 547 43
Single room, shower/WC: 69 €
Double room, with own wash basin, shared bathroom, two single beds: 69 €
Double room, with own wash basin, shared bathroom, one double bed: 69 €
Breakfast included

Neubrückenstraße 12-14 (5 min walk to the conference venue)
phone: +49 (0)251 – 899 78 0; fax: +49 (0)251 – 899 78 29
Single room, shower/WC: from 62 €
Double room, shower/WC: from 88 €

Hüfferstraße 52 (20 min walk to the conference venue)
phone: +49 (0)251 – 981 05 0; fax: +49 (0)251 – 981 05 40
Single room, shower/WC: 64 – 74 €
Double room, shower/WC: 94 €
Breakfast included

Bremer Platz 36 (20 min walk to the conference venue)
phone: +49 (0)251 – 960 92 00 0; fax: +49 (0)251 – 960 92 00 13
Single room, shower/WC: from 71 €
Double room, shower/WC: from 86 €
Breakfast: 9 €

Windthorststraße 19 (10 min walk to the conference venue)
phone: +49 (0)251 – 484 59 0; fax: +49 (0)251 – 408 37
Single room, shower/WC: 68 €
Double room, shower/WC: 77 €
Breakfast included

SLEEP STATION – Backpacker Hostel
Wolbecker Straße 1 (central location; direct bus connection to the conference venue: 10 min ride; walk to the conference venue: 15 min)
phone: +49 (0)251 – 482 81 55
Single room: 32 – 34 €
Double room: 44 – 52 €