Conference: 'Minorities and Minority Discourses in Germany since 1990'
March 3—March 5, 2017 10:00 am
The fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification promised a new historical beginning, yet it stirred deep discussions about contemporary Germany’s relation to the genocidal Nazi past and about ideas of citizenship and belonging in a changing Europe. Migration to Germany (including people of color from around the world as well as Jews and ethnic Germans from the former Soviet Union) suggested the economic and cultural attraction of a changing society, while a wave of murderous attacks on new migrants and Turkish Germans (who had resided in Germany for more than a generation) stoked fears. In “blues in schwarz weiss” (1990), the poet May Ayim writes “a reunited germany celebrates itself in 1990, without its immigrants, refugees, jewish and black people.” In this poem Ayim forges a collective “we” out of immigrants, refugees, Jewish and black people, united in their experience of exclusion, here in the context of German/German unification. Taking Ayim’s poem as its departure, this conference seeks to address and explore the following questions: What are possible intersections (and divergences) between Black German, Turkish German and German Jewish experiences and aesthetic interventions into German public and political discourses on memory, racism, citizenship, immigration, and history? How do collaborations between artists from various backgrounds like Esther Dischereit’s and DJ Ipek’s multimedial bilingual performance of Blumen für Otello (Flowers for Othello, 2014), the anthologies Talking Home (1999) and aus dem Inneren der Sprache (From the Inside of Language, 1995), the repertoire of the Ballhaus Naunynstraße, the rap songs by Advanced Chemistry and projects of the transethnic activist network Kanak Attack reveal, emphasize and/or communicate similarities, differences, and overlap in their cultural, social, and political positioning? And how have discourses on immigration, integration, and racism shifted, changed, and/or remained consistent in the context of the so-called refugee crisis?
The conference will take place on all three university campuses in Amherst. Please see the conference website for further information on the program and locations.
Prof. Ela Gezen (German and Scandinavian Studies, UMass)
Prof. Priscilla Layne (Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures, UNC Chapel Hill)
Prof. Jonathan Skolnik (German and Scandinavian Studies, UMass)