GSA Conference 2021

At this year’s German Studies Association Conference from Sept. 30-Oct. 3, 2021, Indianapolis, IN, the Third Generation Network in collaboration with the Black German Diaspora Network, Socialism Network, and Third Generation Ost organizes four panels. This panel series seeks to examine different critical perspectives of East German experiences that do not center white East Germans. The panels ask several questions: how do non-white East Germans challenge and/or affirm East German historical narratives? How do East German Jewish narratives complicate history? In what ways do historical actors perform and/or embody East German identity? What types of activism and self-preservation happened in the GDR and post-socialist East Germany among minoritized communities? What forms of culture and politics helped minoritized communities carve out spaces for themselves in the GDR? How did discourses and practices of race, discrimination, and solidarity politics contribute to contemporary understandings and misunderstandings of racism in former East Germany? By rendering diverse minoritized communities visible, our panels hope to showcase works that decenter whiteness and value intersectionality in East Germany.

Minoritized Voices: Decolonizing the East German Experience (1): Minoritized Communities

Commentator: Patrice Poutrus, Moderator: Katrin Bahr

  • Paulino Miguel: The quest for identity – Exemplified on Mozambican youth in the former GDR
  • Nhi Le: Vietnamese Communities in Eastern Germany and their representation in the German Media
  • Angelika Kim: Challenging historical narratives on the migration, whiteness, integration, and assimilation of the Spätaussiedler minority group or so-called „Russlanddeutsche“ in Eastern Germany

This panel examines the perspectives of contract workers from Mozambique and Vietnam and the so-called Russlanddeutsche through a personal lens but also media representation. The panel asks for forms of culture and politics that helped minoritized communities carve out spaces for themselves in the GDR. How did discourses and practices of race, discrimination, and solidarity politics contribute to the understanding of the respective community?

Minoritized Voices: Decolonizing the East German Experience (2): Black Radical Historiography & Internationalism

Commentator: Jamele Watkins, Moderator: Xan Holt

  • Doreen Mende: The Missed Seminar: Worldmaking After Internationalism
  • Anna Duensing: “Like a Smile Which Dies on the Lips”: Black Radical Exile and the Limits of East German Solidarity
  • Katharine White: The Historian’s Gaze: East German Anti-Imperialist Archetypes and their (Mis)Representation

This panel examines aspects of the GDR’s internationalism and solidarity while focusing on prominent actors such as Angela Davis, Luis Corvalan, Oliver Harrington, and the friends Eslanda “Essie” Goode Robeson and German-Jewish philosopher Franz Loeser. The papers will show one the one hand how actors navigated their space in the GDR and the intersection of race, gender, politics, and technology, and on the other hand how historians defined those intersections by defining whose histories are written.

Minoritized Voices: Decolonizing the East German Experience (3): Literature & Arts

Commentator: Sara Lennox, Moderator: Katharina Warda

  • Joel Kohen: “Communist Jews from the East and the Real Estate Jews from Frankfurt” — Declarations of Jewishness and East-Germanness in Mirna Funk’s Winternähe
  • Xan Holt: “Picture This”: Anti-Racist Bildbeschreibung and the GDR in Olivia Wenzel’s 1000 Serpentinen Angst
  • Marc Silberman: Boat People and Socialist Solidarity Workers from Vietnam: Thomas Köck’s Play atlas (2019)

This panel examines the experiences of minority groups such as East German Jews, Vietnamese, and Black East Germans in literature and theatre. While two papers look into the question of identity in relation to a West German, discourse dominating, community, a third paper looks at the critique of storytelling by non-white people and their appropriation of Vietnamese stories.

Minoritized Voices: Decolonizing the East German Experience (4): East Germany post-1989

Commentator: Jennifer Allen, Moderator: Obenewaa Oduro-Opuni

  • Jeanette Gusko, Kristina Kämpfer, Thomas Prennig, Johanna Wetzel and Abini Zöllner: “Volkseigener Rassismus”: Perspectives on Racism in the former GDR and East Germany
  • Katharina Warda: Dunkeldeutschland. Writing history from its margins
  • Lydia Lierke: Searching for Narratives- (P)ost-migrant memories about missing parts and GDR migration history

This panel examines cultural discourses after German reunification in 1989/90 in East Germany. One of the papers interprets empirical data on the rise of racist and right-wing extremist violence in the former GDR and East Germany. The other two explore marginalized narratives concerning race, class, gender, and the legacy of children of former GDR guest workers left behind in Germany after they were forced by new legislation to return to their countries of origin.