Date of Award

1-1-2013

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

History

First Advisor

Ann Johnson

Abstract

My dissertation, "Writing Across Differences: Afro-Germans, Gender, and Diaspora, 1970s-1990s," explores the birth of the Afro-German movement, including its two organizations: The Initiative of Black Germans (Initiative Schwarze Deutsche, ISD) and Afro-German Women (Afro-deutsche Frauen, ADEFRA) in West and then reunified Germany. In it, I uncover the efforts of Black Germans to organize a diasporic and literary movement to confront discriminatory discourses and practices that simultaneously ignored them and positioned them as "Others" in postwar German society. Through their diverse literature and coordinated events, Black Germans enacted membership in the African diaspora, articulating and claiming an identity that supported a community and that both transcended and affirmed the nation. In this way, Afro-Germans established transnational connections with other Afro-diasporic individuals that did not preclude ties to Germany.

"Writing Across Differences," moreover, maintains that Black Germans, as a multicultural population, used their literature, emotions, politics, and activism to unite across their differences, alleviate their isolation, forge personal connections, dismantle everyday racism, and gain recognition in Germany. By doing so, Afro-Germans cultivated alternative forms of kinship that helped them advance collective political and cultural goals in society. Yet, their efforts at solidarity and kinship were not without tensions and conflicts. Although Afro-Germans constituted a small minority population of approximately 500,000, their drive to create an inclusive diasporic identity and movement enabled them to destabilize the persistent if often unspoken belief that Germanness was exclusively white and highlight the diversity of German culture and history. In tracing the evolution of this movement, my project also illuminates the emergence of an Afro-German intellectual and activist tradition inspired by Afro-Caribbean feminist Audre Lorde and her theories about emotions, poetry, the erotic, writing, the diaspora, and "connected differences."

Included in

History Commons

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