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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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7 Re-Fashioning Postwar German Masculinity Through Hip-Hop: The Man(l)y BlackWhite Identities of Samy Deluxe (Vanessa D. Plumly)


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7 Re-Fashioning Postwar German Masculinity Through Hip-Hop: The Man(l)y BlackWhite Identities of Samy Deluxe


Exploring the intersection of race, gender, the German nation and the African diaspora, this chapter situates the popular Black German hip-hop artist Samy Deluxe as performing postwar Afro-German masculinity in hip-hop. Through an analysis of his continually shifting musical styles and accompanying lyrics (from hardcore hip-hop to reggae and pop-like music) and the non-static modes of self-fashioning of his own Black male body on the covers of his albums, Samy Deluxe’s oeuvre demonstrates that gender and race are performative acts produced both in and through discourse. The album covers stress that these categories of identity must be simultaneously viewed within the socio-historical and cultural contexts that have conditioned the very performances of them, as well as understood as consciously performed, malleable styles. In fact, Samy Deluxe illustrates how identity itself consists of multiple assumed self-positionings in addition to external placements (performed by others) in national, diasporic, gendered and racial paradigms.

Hip-hop is about embodiment, enacting a performance shaped by race, gender, sexuality, national identity, class and their intersections. Historically, the Black body has often served as a site of disembodiment, of fragmentation and of objectification, especially through the construction of race at the crossroads of capitalist exploitation and white supremacy. In the process, the Black subject was almost always rendered nonhuman, revoking the subject’s (corpo)reality through a partial...

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