Inclusion and Diversity in German Studies

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The worldwide protests of June, 2020, have expressed the anger of so many who have experienced or witnessed racism in our societies. The death of George Floyd is just one in a long line of racist incidents that must be stopped. It has become clear that more needs to be done to understand the nature of anti-black racism in our societies and to combat anti-black racism and racism against indigenous peoples and people of colour. 
The Waterloo Centre for German Studies condemns the racism and violence directed against people of colour. We wish to do what we can to make inclusion and diversity a hallmark of our corner of the academic world. One step we've taken is to compile this list of resources to help instructors, students, and others educate themselves about anti-black racism and its connections to German studies. In addition, as part of the University of Waterloo's commitment to fulfilling the calls to action of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we're including links that help us better understand the relationship between German studies and the process of reconciliation with indigenous peoples.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list but rather an introduction to the issues, and we will expand it as we learn of new resources. Please contact us at if you have resources you’d like to suggest. 

Being Black and German

  • Afro Germany – being black and German | DW Documentary - Black and German: news anchor Jana Pareigis has spent her entire life being asked about her skin colour and hair. What is it like to be Black in Germany? What needs to change? Watch the documentary here.

  • What's life really like for black people in Germany? -Blacks are Germany's most visible minority. But how they experience racism and discrimination remains largely unknown. The Afrozensus, or "Afro Census," wants to change that by asking about their experiences. Read more here.

  • Opinion: George Floyd killing opens racism wounds for European blacks - "There's no relief for me that I live in Germany," writes DW's Chiponda Chimbelu, as he reflects on the European reaction to the killing of George Floyd. It's a moment for Europe to reflect on its own racism, he adds. Read more here.

  • Where do you really come from? Racism in Berlin -An interview with Isaiah Lopaz, a black American artist living in Berlin who created a photography project highlighting racism in Germany’s capital. Read more here.

  • ‘I Will Never Be German’: Immigrants and Mixed-Race Families in Germany on the Struggle to Belong - Thirty years after Germany’s unification, nearly 500 readers told The New York Times what it means to be German. Read more here.

  • Making Visible the Invisible: Germany's Black diaspora, 1880s - 1945 - Today, nearly a million Black people live in Germany. But the longer history of a Black community stretches back to the 1880s – and, until now, this story has remained largely untold. Read about the project here.

  • Schwarzsein und Rassismus in Deutschland - Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven - Recording of a discussion on Friday 12 June, 2020 - about being Black in Germany and racism organized by Internationales Öffentliches Recht und Internationalen Menschenrechtsschutz (IMR) WWU Münster. To access the recording and learn more about the event, click here.

Associations and Research Groups

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German Filmmakers of Colour

The German Screen Studies Network's Facebook Group has started a list of German filmmakers of colour:

  • Podcast – Professor Nenno Interviews Actor, Activist, and Filmmaker Mo AsumangDr. Nancy Nenno, a professor of German at the College of Charleston, teaches the course “We are German: The African Diaspora in German-Speaking Europe.” In April, she sat down with Mo Asumang, a German actor, activist, and filmmaker of German and Ghanaian descent, about her most recent documentary, The Aryans, which depicts her quest to understand the origins and the meaning of the term “Aryan.” Listen here.
  • ‘Joy’ by Sudabeh Mortezai - Sex-trafficking drama “Joy,” from Austrian-Iranian director Sudabeh Mortezai, has won the award for Best Film at the BFI London Film Festival. Read about it here.
  • Ibrahim Shaddad’s Jagdpartie (1964), shot at the Deutsche Hochschule für Filmkunst Potsdam-Babelsberg (now: Filmuniversität Babelsberg Konrad Wolf): a treatise on racism, shot in a forest in Brandenburg, and using tropes from the Western to portray the hunt for a Black man. Now available on DVD from Arsenal Berlin.
  • German filmmaker Natasha A. Kelly’s I’m Not Who you Think I’m Not #36: Milli’s Awakening (2018) brings together eight Black German women of different generations to explore the artistic practices through which they define a self-determined position within white German mainstream society: Watch here.
  • Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years - on Lorde’s activism, her poetry, and how transatlantic solidarities sparked Afro-German feminism. Watch the trailer here.
  • Angelina Maccarone’s Afro-German queer screwball comedy Alles wird Gut (1997). Co-scripted with Fatima el-Tayeb. Featuring Kati Stüdemann (Nabou), Chantal de Freitas (Kim), Pierre Sanoussi-Bliss (Kofi). Watch the trailer here.

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German Studies and Indigenous Peoples

  • Building Transdisciplinary Relationships: Indigenous and German Studies - A special issue of Seminar, the academic journal of the Canadian Association of University Teachers of German. Read it here.
  • Diversity and Decolonization in German Studies - This book, a collection of essays edited by Regine Criser and Ervin Malakaj, “Examines the discipline’s ability to help equip its learners with critical tools to dismantle oppressive forces of our present time.” For more information, click here

  • Indianthusiasm: Indigenous Responses - This book, edited by Hartmut Lutz, Florentine Strzelczyk, and Renae Watchman, is a collection of essays about the “European fascination with, and fantasies about, Indigenous peoples of North America,” an idea that “has its roots in nineteenth-century German colonial imagination.” For more information, click here

  • Lost in Translation: Germany’s Fascination With the American Old West - The interest of Germans in Native American culture is being subjected to increased scrutiny. Read about it here.

  • Searching for Winnetou (2018) by Drew Hayden Taylor - Ojibway author and humorist Drew Hayden Taylor embarks on a quest to understand the roots of the German obsession with Native North Americans. Watch the full documentary here, and you can read more about the documentary from the CBC here.

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General Resources

  • Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor (2012) - Open-access article by Eve Tuck and Wayne Yang. From the abstract: Our goal in this article is to remind readers what is unsettling about decolonization. Decolonization brings about the repatriation of Indigenous land and life; it is not a metaphor for other things we want to do to improve our societies and schools. The easy adoption of decolonizing discourse by educational advocacy and scholarship, evidenced by the increasing number of calls to “decolonize our schools,” or use “decolonizing methods,” or, “decolonize student thinking”, turns decolonization into a metaphor. Read the full article here
  • The Henceforward by Eve Tuck and graduate students at OISE, University of Toronto, about relationships between Indigenous and Black communities on Turtle Island. Listen here.
  • Seeing White. A Podcast Series from Scene On Radio. The 14 episodes of this podcast discuss the notion of whiteness, especially in the American context.  It's a good introduction to the issues of what whiteness means today. Listen here.

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