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Black and Queer in the City

Black and Queer in the City 

Coalition of Women in German (WiG) sponsored panel

45th annual German Studies Association Conference

Indianapolis, Indiana 

September 30-October 3, 2021

The city, particularly Berlin, has served as an organizing space for centuries for Germany’s Black diaspora. It has also been a center of gay, lesbian, queer, and transgender culture, life, and resistance. This panel explores not only the Black German radical tradition of queering and querying the gaze, knowledge, theory and praxis, and ontologies through spatial politics, but it also examines Black Germans’ embrace of their intersectional identities in coming out and being out.

From the renaming of M-Strasse to Anton Wilhelm Amo Strasse in Berlin-Mitte to the No-Humboldt 21 protests, Black Germans expand and queer sites/sights of (non-)belonging through activist practices, engage in acts of emplacement, and incite political and social change in exclusionary German cultural landscapes and the public sphere. In literary works and cultural productions such as Pierre Sansoussi-Bliss’s film Zurück auf Los (2000), Angelina Maccarone and Fatima El-Tayeb’s screenplay Alles Wird Gut (1997), Guy St. Louis’s poetry collection Gedichte einer schönen Frau (1983) and Olivia Wenzel’s debut novel 1000 Serpentinen Angst (2020), Black Germans embody their queerness and express their sexuality and desires.

This panel poses questions such as: how do Black German subjects orient and position themselves in cities and also in more intimate spheres within these larger and intersecting frameworks? How do they use such sites to carve out spaces of recognition and enable modes of survival vis-a-vis their cultural production, activism, and kinship networks? What role did cities play during the Black women’s movement in Germany in the 1980s and 1990s, and what role do they play today for Black German activism? How do Black German radical politics expand our understanding of queer geographies that are both literal and figurative? Can connections to queer activism in other cities in Europe and the world be traced, and what meaning do these have within the global Black diaspora? What crossings and transitionings do Black German and LGBTQIA+ communities pursue with their politics and kinships that move beyond normative understandings of gender, sex, and race? In what ways, do LGBTQIA+ Black Germans and others of the Black diaspora transform politics by pursuing new mediums of engagement?

We particularly encourage submissions from junior, BIPOC, and LGBTQI+ scholars.

Please submit abstracts of no more than 250 words to the organizers by February 5, 2021.

Co-organizers: Tiffany Florvil, Jeannette Oholi, Vanessa Plumly