2021 Diversity & Inclusion Grants Recipients

WCGS Diversity & Inclusion Grants on multicoloured windows with a blue sky

Here are the 2021 recipients of our Diversity and Inclusion Grants. These grants have been created to support scholars and programs in their efforts to diversify German studies in Canada.

On this page, you will find links to any resources or recordings created through these initatives.

Michael Boehringer (Dis/ability in German Culture): The project is organized around a graduate seminar at the University of Waterloo and aims to further current efforts to consider disability from a minority rather than a medical perspective. The course and associated events will explore both the theoretical underpinnings of critical disability studies and the representation of disability in German culture from the 19th to the 21st century, exposing continuities in the representation of disability and promoting more inclusive ways of living. Some of these talks have been recorded and links to the recordings will be made available below.

  • Disability Myths and Rhetorics talk with Jay Dolmage (UW) - In this discussion, Professor Dolmage will work through an overview of myths that offer a shorthand for the ways that disability is narrowly represented or depicted across cultures. Watch the recording here.
  • A life worthy of living: Kolmar's Susanna by Alec Cattell (Texas Tech U) - an interactive virtual discussion about Gertrud Kolmar's last surviving literary work, the novella Susanna. Watch the recording here.

  • Public Reading & Discussion on Authorship & Disability with Austrian author Mercedes Spannagel - reading and discussion of Spannagel's prize-winning short story "Wie es klingt, wenn es quietscht." Reading and discussion in German. Watch the recording here.

Angelica Fenner (East Germans: (Re)Claiming Black Identities Through Cultural Activism): In cooperation with the Black German Heritage and Research Association (BGHRA) and Rutgers University-Camden Department of Africana Studies, the Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures at the University of Toronto will host a virtual/online series of lectures fostering engagement with the field of Black German Studies.

  • East Germans: Reclaiming Black Identities Through Cultural Activism: Jeanette Footman and Jeannine Kantara in Conversation - Jeanette Footman and Jeannine Kantara, contribute to the oral history of Black Germany through reminisces of growing up in East Germany. They became friends in childhood, after meeting in 1978; their fathers, respectively from Cameroon and New Guinea, new each other since arriving in the GDR in 1965 as students.  They discuss growing up in biracial families within the GDR as well as their experienced of Black communities in Germany today. Jeanette and Jeannine have remained close friends across the passage of time, despite the fact that Jeanette now lives in Indianapolis and Jeannine in Berlin.
  • Olivia Wenzel in Conversation - artist Olivia Wenzel speaks about her work as a dramaturge, musician, performer, and author of the recent German-language novel 1000 Serpentinen der Angst (Fischer, 2020). Wenzel is joined by Dr. Jamele Watkins (University of Minnesota) and hosted by Drs. Rosemarie Peña (President, Black German Historical Research Association) and Angelica Fenner (University of Toronto). Watch the recording here.
  • Film Screening with Director Ines Johnson-Spain in Attendance: "Becoming Black" (2019) - Watch the recording here.

Maria Mayr (Workshop: Anti-Racist Pedagogies in the Language Classroom): A workshop focused on educating language instructors about anti-oppressive and anti-racist pedagogy in the language classroom. The workshop is organized by faculty members from Memorial University’s Modern Languages, Classics, and Linguistics departments as a response to the urgent need to self-critically re-examine the often-unconscious harmful premises and blind spots of language teaching philosophies and practices in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation and Black Lives Matter.

Elizabeth Nijdam (Indigenizing the Canadian German Studies Curriculum) curated an event series and curricular development project to assist the German program at the University of British Columbia in meeting the goals of UBC’s Indigenous Strategic Plan by focusing on the intersection of German studies and Indigenous studies. The series was titled: "Indigenous presence and Representation in European Studies" and featured the following events, if you would like to learn more information about the events or watch the recordings, please visit the UBC Migration Narratives Group website:

  1. Searching for Winnetou (2018): Film Screening & Conversation with Director Drew Hayden Taylor
  2. “Winnetou, White Innocence, and Settler Time” by Dr. Maureen Gallagher
  3. Ziegler Lecture: Dr. Lars Richter, “A German Board Game & the Need for New Stories”
  4. "Indigenous Representation and Self-Representation in board Game Culture" - Pe Metawe Board Game Workshop by David Plamondon and Jayde Gravel
  5. Radical Diversity Discussion - "On Colonial Practices, Structures and Discourses, and Strategies to Disrupt Them with Riel Dupuis-Rossi," Max Czollek, and Mohamed Amjahid
  6. Sami New Media & Digital Games by Dr. Outi Laiti
  7. Radical Diversity Discussion - "On Transformative Narratives from an Indigenous, Jewish, and Immigrant Perspective" with Jules Koostachin, Kristi Pinderi, Max Czollek, and Mohamed Amjahid
  8. Ziegler Lecture: Virtual Talk with Dr. Renae Watchman “Indigenous Literary Presence in Europe”

John Plews (CSSG Content Diversification): The Canadian Summer School in Germany expanded its already diverse offerings to include experiential learning with a youth graffiti artist group, a webinar on a BLM exhibition in Kassel, a live-streamed walking tour of Afro-German life and history in Berlin, and three live-streamed/recorded walking tours of LGTBTIQ-Berlin, Turkish Berlin, and Jewish Berlin.

Here's a small report from CSSG director John Plews about what the program was able to accomplish through the WCGS Diversity and Inclusion Grant. If you are interested in utilizing any of the resources mentioned below in your own classroom, please reach out to Dr. Plews directly:

  1. Raum für urbane Experimente, Kassel. In the past couple of years, we have been taken on a tour by a member of a local youth graffiti artist organization. This year, we commissioned a video walking tour. Students watched the video and answered questions about the content. They also had to take images of local graffiti in their hometowns and discuss their social and personal meanings.
  2. SIDE BY SIDE, Afrodeutsche und Schwarze Menschen Nordhessen. We made contact with Ruth Hunstock, the coordinator of the Side By Side, and arranged an interview with her about her activism in Kassel, including a Black Lives Matter exhibition in Kassel, the renaming of the M-Apotheke in Kassel, and her participation in the broadcast Schwarz in Deutschland. Students had to watch this video and identify and discuss various topics; they also watched the Schwarz in Deutschland broadcast. This interview and the graffiti video were also part of a weekly capping project that focused on personal activism and social engagement in which students worked together to discuss and plan meaningful action that they could take on a chosen social justice issue or cause. We hope to invite Ruth Hunstock to our classes next year.
  3. Berlin Postkolonial. We made contact with Christian Kopp, a historian with Berlin Postkolonial and went on a live-streamed virtual walking tour of Afro-German life and colonial/postcolonial history in Berlin. This was a highly professional, informative, and revealing tour for all (students and profs!). Students drew on the interview with Ruth Hunstock and the Schwarz in Deutschland broadcast to prepare questions for Christian Kopp, which they had to ask during or at the end of the tour; they then had to write up a brief protocol. We hope to offer this tour in person next year.  
  4. Live-Stream Walking Tours in Berlin with Finn Ballard. The first was a tour of LGBTIQ+ Berlin and the second was of Turkish Berlin, where we also accompanied a local imam. Both of these virtual tours were highly informative. Students had to prepare questions based on expectations and curiosity and ask these questions during or at the end of the tours; they again had to write up a brief protocol. Aspects of the three tours in Berlin were integrated into the weekly capping project, which focused on ethical tourism for diverse groups (students, seniors, LGBTIQ+, families with children). 

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