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Rethinking Black German Studies

Approaches, Interventions and Histories

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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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5 Black, People of Color and Migrant Lives Should Matter: Racial Profiling, Police Brutality and Whiteness in Germany (Kevina King)

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KEVINA KING

5 Black, People of Color and Migrant1 Lives Should Matter: Racial Profiling, Police Brutality and Whiteness in Germany

ABSTRACT

Incidents of racial profiling and police brutality are common in Germany. They represent the daily realities and encounters with law enforcement and the judiciary that are institutional racist structures. Federal and local police measures rely on paragraph 22(1a) of the Federal Police Act, which empowers law enforcement officials to stop, search and question anyone without reasonable suspicion. Yet Black, People of Color and Migrant communities are primarily targeted. They are racially profiled in stores, parks, bars, discotheques and even their own homes. Drawing on the groundbreaking work of anti-racism initiatives, the scholarship of Fatima El-Tayeb, Yasemin Yildiz, Maisha Eggers and other critical race theorists, I highlight how this practice is fostered, reviewing current racial dynamics and recounting the most recent and widely covered incidents of racial profiling in Germany. I then illustrate how pervasive this practice is, and what it reveals about the normalization of whiteness in society. ← 169 | 170 →

The 4th of December 2014 was the day after a Staten Island grand jury failed to indict the white police officer David Pantaleo for choking Eric Garner to death. Although the cell phone footage of Eric Garner’s murder and his last words ‘I can’t breathe’ echoed – as if on constant replay – on nearly all media outlets for weeks, university business at the predominately white institution of the...

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