ASC students who took German 340 “Afro-German History and Culture” will remember our interview with Lisa Dixon, an Afro-German woman who told us about her experience as child of a white German mother and African-American GI.
Lisa Dixon is also featured in the documentary “Brown Babies: The Mischlingskinder Story” by director Regina Griffin. This documentary focuses on the story of Mabel Grammar, an activist who after World War II began to arrange adoptions of so-called “mixed-race” babies from Germany to African-American families, and is scheduled for a screening at the AMC Parkway Pointe 15 on September 2, 7pm.
Here’s the trailer:
From March 13-16, Agnes Scott College will host the 10th bi-annual conference of the Collegium for African American Research (CAAR). The conference will bring over 200 international scholars to campus, who will discuss and present research projects on a wide range of topics connected to the history and culture of African people.
One of five keynote addresses will directly address the experience of people of African descent in Germany. On Saturday, March 16, 10:45am-12:00pm, Rosemarie Pena, director of the Black German Heritage & Research Association, will deliver her keynote address “Staatenlos: Connecting Within the Margins.” In addition to this talk, there are several other presentations connected to German history and race.
For those ASC faculty and students away for Spring Break, Rosemarie Pena has agreed to stay for an additional day and deliver a shortened version and discussion of her keynote speech during a luncheon on Monday, March 18, from noon to 1:30pm in the South Dining Room in Evans Dining Hall.
Another important voice has passed away: Hans Jürgen Massaquoi died on January 19, 2013. ASC German students will remember Massaquoi as author of the memoir Neger, Neger, Schornsteinfeger [Destined to Witness] in which the author described his experiences as a black young man in Weimar and later Nazi Germany. Massaquoi, son of a Liberian diplomat and a white German woman, survived World War II in Germany, later emigrated to the United States and went on to become a journalist and eventually the managing editor of Ebony.
Here’s a short video from the German internet project Gedächtnis der Nation [Memory of the Nation] in which Massaquoi describes his disappointment of being rejected from the Hitler Youth:
Doing some more research for the Afro-German class I came across an interesting performance called “Die vergessenen Befreier [The Forgotten Liberators].” The musical is part of an exhibition by the documentation center for National Socialism, titled “Die Dritte Welt im Zweiten Weltkrieg.”
In German 340, Afro-German Culture and History, we have moved into the project phase and have begun interviewing an amazing group of volunteers who identify themselves as Afro-Germans: An army soldier who was born in Germany, served in the German army, and then moved to the US to enlist in the army; an Afro-German woman of the first postwar generation who had grown up in a boarding school and moved to the US in her mid-twenties; a middle-aged Afro-German writer who moved to the US as an infant and has only recently begun to reflect on what Afro-German means for her. Look for more information as the project continues.
During one of these conversations we also addressed the still rather stereotypical roles Afro-German actors play on German television. Last year, the Norddeutsche Rundfunk broadcast a short documentary on that. The clip is in German, but it basically states that, with few exceptions, black German actors still play mostly asylum seekers, drug bosses, and other “not-normal” characters.
Please read and distribute our call for volunteers!
As my students in the Afro-German course know, Germany’s colonies have not been a dominant topic among scholars for a long time, but the recent decade or so has certainly made up for that lapse. This afternoon, I attended two lectures on Germany’s colonial history.
First, Luke Springman from the University of Bloomsburg addressed the role of colonialist propaganda between the World Wars in his talk “East Africa: Propaganda and Manifest Expansion during the Weimar Republic.”
Springman argued that contrary to conventional wisdom, colonial propaganda was clearly visible in the 1920s and 1930s in Germany. It’s true, so Springman, that the better known general histories of Weimar treat colonialist propaganda as a peripheral phenomenon, but that might be due to the fact that a lot of that propaganda happened in media that are not easily accessible nowadays. Specifically, Springman mentions magazines and books targeted at young and young adult audiences, and says that we can measure their impact best when we use an understanding of propaganda called “sociological propaganda.” In other words, it’s propaganda that works so well because it does not come across as propaganda, but “just adventure” literature.
Registration is around the corner. Here are the course offerings in German Studies. We look forward to seeing you in our courses, please do not hesitate to contact the German Studies faculty if you have questions.