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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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1 ‘Hergestellt unter ausschließlicher Verwendung von Kakaobohnen deutscher Kolonien’: On Representations of Chocolate Consumption as a Colonial Endeavor (Silke Hackenesch)


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1 ‘Hergestellt unter ausschließlicher Verwendung von Kakaobohnen deutscher Kolonien’: On Representations of Chocolate Consumption as a Colonial Endeavor


This chapter explores the entanglements of the history of cocoa as a colonial commodity with constructions of Blackness in early twentieth-century Germany. Examining various visual and textual sources illustrates how cocoa and chocolate became firmly linked to images of laboring Black bodies as well as stereotypical imagery of Africans that informed the discourses on colonialism and empire. At a time that also witnessed the emergence of a professional advertising industry, commodities such as cocoa were not only construed as colonial, but also exotic. The knowledge of brown-skinned people toiling on cocoa farms for the pleasurable consumption of chocolate by German consumers, in fact, enhanced the exotic appeal. Through endless repetitions, both visually and linguistically, Europeans ‘learned’ this association because it was normalized and made to appear ‘natural’.

How seldom do we think when we drink a cup of cocoa or eat some morsels of chocolate, that our liking of these delicacies has set minds and bodies at work all the world over! Many types of humanity have contributed to their production. Picture in the mind’s eye the graceful coolie in the sun-saturated tropics, moving in the shade, cutting the pods from the cacao tree; the deep-chested sailor helping to load from lighters or surf-boats the precious bags of cacao into the hold of the ocean liner; the...

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