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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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3 Lucia Engombe’s and Stefanie-Lahya Aukongo’s Autobiographical Accounts of Solidaritätspolitik and Life in the GDR as Namibian Children (Meghan O’Dea)


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3 Lucia Engombe’s and Stefanie-Lahya Aukongo’s Autobiographical Accounts of Solidaritätspolitik and Life in the GDR as Namibian Children


This chapter examines solidarity as expressed within the autobiographical texts Kind Nr. 95 by Lucia Engombe and Kalungas Kind by Stefanie-Lahya Aukongo, who grew up in East Germany during the SWAPO liberation movement in Southwest Africa (today’s Namibia). Engombe’s and Aukongo’s narratives share a similar criticism of East German politics of solidarity demonstrated through their contrast of official, political rhetoric on racism and equality with the social realities of everyday life. They paint a complex picture of solidarity in the GDR by, on the one hand, showing its limitations – it neither led to the eradication of ‘everyday racism’ nor to outright social inclusion and feelings of belonging. However, on the other hand, it inspired a culture of support and acceptance among individuals who took on advocating roles. Although critical of their political treatment, Engombe and Aukongo provide a hopeful picture of the solidarity enacted through individuals on a personal level.

The history of Namibia and Germany has a long and continuous trajectory, which Lucia Engombe and Stefanie-Lahya Aukongo – both women of Namibian decent raised in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) – recall in their respective autobiographical accounts, Kind Nr. 95. Meine deutsch-afrikanische Odyssee [2004, Kid Number 95: My German-African Odyssey] and Kalungas Kind: Wie die DDR mein Leben rettete [2009, Kalungas Child: How the GDR Saved My Life...

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