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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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4 Everyday Matters: Haunting and the Black Diasporic Experience (Kimberly Alecia Singletary)


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4 Everyday Matters: Haunting and the Black Diasporic Experience1


This chapter uses the Black American and Afro-German populations as two instances of haunting in relation to the material presence of the Black diasporic experience in Germany. In addition to German Blackness haunting the German nation, another layer of haunting – that of American Blackness toward Afro-Germanness – impacts Germany, creating a stratified haunting. U.S. Blackness is represented in nearly every facet of German public and popular culture from politics to street culture while Afro-Germans still fight to be recognized as both German and Black; that overrepresentation edges out Afro-German visibility by a public too willing to privilege the whiteness of German identity. This chapter asks: what is the political, social and racial environment that make racial hauntings possible? How have they been represented in visual and written texts? How can we effectively use the concept of haunting to productively discuss Black diasporic populations in Germany?

We stood, contemplating the satisfying flavor, but uncomfortable psychic experience of our ‘Lumumbas’ – rum-flavored hot cocoa named after the Congolese independence leader – at the Berlin Christmas market in the Alt Tegel neighborhood in December 2013. Two Black girls, both American ← 137 | 138 → but one also German, wondering if we were committing some sort of Black diasporic sin by enjoying such a drink. Would we have enjoyed it as much – or even more – if it were a white chocolate drink served in an...

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