Crossovers

African Americans and Germany

 

March 22 - 26, 2006
International Conference at the Westphalian Wilhelms-University Münster (WWUM), Germany

The conference "Crossovers: African Americans and Germany," to be held at the WWUM in Muenster, Germany, from March 22-26, 2006, represents the launching of a long-term und transnational research initiative. Both, the conference and the larger research project are trans-cultural and interdisciplinary in approach and strive for a comprehensive study, documentation and narrative of the encounters between African Americans and Germans from 1780 to the present.

In close cooperation with scholars who have contributed to this field, the conference/project seeks to unite and to synthesize research from various disciplines and from different historical perspectives. Subjects to be explored include (but are not limited to) the representations of encounters between African Americans and Germans in literature, visual arts, film, media, etc. We invite contributions discussing the processes of individual, communal and national identity negotiation that accompanied these interactions, and we encourage studies that will focus on the new quality these negotiations acquired when, after World War II, the children born out of relationships between African American GIs and German women challenged traditional concepts of Germanness. Attention will also be given to projects that examine the experiences of scientists such as the African American biologist E.E. Just in Nazi Germany, the Berlin sojourns of sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois, or the adaptations of German academic émigrés to their new lives at HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). The conference / project seeks to develop research strategies and paradigms that provide for a more comprehensive understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of these complex, inter- and trans-cultural negotiations, dialogues, and passages within the Black Atlantic context.

In the past, studies about interactions between African Americans and Germans often tended to limit themselves in operating from a one-sided perspective, i.e., the encounter is seen as a transformative, often liberational process for the African American protagonists, whereas the impact of these interactions on the German context long remained unexplored. The conference seeks to focus the dialogic quality and mutually transformative impact of such encounters across historical periods and across social, economic strata of African American and German contexts.

The conference organizers are proud to announce that the following scholars and writers have already agreed to present keynote addresses at the conference: Sabine Broeck (University of Bremen), Tina Campt (Duke University), Heide Fehrenbach (Northern Illinois University), Maria Hoehn (Vassar College), Clarence Lusane (American University), Berndt Ostendorf (Maximilian's University Munich) and John A. Williams.

The conference/project invites, among others:

  • Scholars from various disciplines such as American Studies, German Studies, History, African American Studies, Cultural Studies, Art History, Music History, Film Studies, Medicine, Psychology, etc.
  • Representatives from ISD (Initiative Schwarze Deutsche), ADEFRA (Afro-Deutsche Frauen), Black Unity Committee, etc.
  • African American scholars, artists, intellectuals, journalists, politicians, GIs, a.o. who lived or are living in Germany or traveled there.
  • African American and German writers whose texts have explored the encounters between African Americans and Germans

 

The program committee welcomes papers that approach the conference focus from an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective. Workshops should have no more than eight slots. Since we encourage international cooperation, we would ask that workshop organizers either recruit some of the participants from countries other than their own or leave at least half of the slots open.

Proposals should be as short and to the point as possible (no more than one page). All proposals should include title of paper/workshop, a brief abstract, and should include your name, institution/affiliation, address, telephone number, and email address. Please send your proposals by EMAIL (with the text of the proposal included in the email, NOT as an attachment).

If you wish to run a workshop or wish to present a paper, please submit your proposal by October 15, 2005. Please send all proposals to:

M. Brands-Schwabe (University of Münster, Germany):
schwabem@uni-muenster.de


Prof. Dr. Maria I. Diedrich (WWUM)
Prof. Dr. Larry Greene (Seton Hall University)
Prof. Dr. Juergen Heinrichs (Seton Hall University)
Dr. Anke Ortlepp (German Historical Institute)