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Rethinking Black German Studies

Approaches, Interventions and Histories


Edited By Tiffany N. Florvil and Vanessa D. Plumly

Black German Studies is an interdisciplinary field that has experienced significant growth over the past three decades, integrating subjects such as gender studies, diaspora studies, history, and media and performance studies. The field’s contextual roots as well as historical backdrop, nevertheless, span centuries. This volume assesses where the field is now by exploring the nuances of how the past – colonial, Weimar, National Socialist, post-1945, and post-Wende – informs the present and future of Black German Studies; how present generations of Black Germans look to those of the past for direction and empowerment; how discourses shift due to the diversification of power structures and the questioning of identity-based categories; and how Black Germans affirm their agency and cultural identity through cultural productions that engender both counter-discourses and counter-narratives.

Examining Black German Studies as a critical, hermeneutic field of inquiry, the contributions are organized around three thematically conceptualized sections: German and Austrian literature and history; pedagogy and theory; and art and performance. Presenting critical works in the fields of performance studies, communication and rhetoric, and musicology, the volume complicates traditional historical narratives, interrogates interdisciplinary methods, and introduces theoretical approaches that help to advance the field.

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Afterword (Michelle M. Wright)


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Just over a decade ago, Tina Campt and I edited a special issue of the journal Callaloo, ‘The Black German Experience’, which was primarily geared towards introducing a new generation of U.S. Black studies scholars to a broad variety of twenty-first-century Black German creative and scholarly work. In many ways, the volume felt quite late in coming: after all, it was nearly a decade before that, in 1986, that the landmark anthology edited by May Ayim, Katharina Oguntoye and Dagmar Schultz, Farbe bekennen: Afro-deutsche Frauen auf den Spüren ihrer Geschichte [Showing Our Colors: Black German Women Speak Out (1991)], had been published to such richly deserved acclaim.

One might say that this volume, Rethinking Black German Studies: Approaches, Interventions and Histories is also greatly overdue; after all, Farbe bekennen not only created a foundation for Black German Studies, it laid claim to a broad range of histories, disciplines, philosophies, sociopolitical movements, cultures, and politics. It is rarely the case, I think, that the introduction to a new area of study is so apt in its engagement, wise in its reflections and enduring in its impact; with its mixture of historiographies, autobiographies, group and individual interviews not to mention poetry, Farbe bekennen imparts the intense polyvalent complexity of the Black German experience in virtuoso form. Farbe bekennen not only educated a population of fellow citizens, it inspired and motivated my generation of scholars to take up the...

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