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Picture of Imagining Blackness in Germany and Austria

Imagining Blackness in Germany and Austria

Editor(s): Charlotte Szilagyi, Sabrina K. Rahman and Michael Saman

Book Description

Imagining Blackness in Germany and Austria offers a breadth of fresh and provocative perspectives on the ways that blackness has been configured and instrumentalized in cultural productions from around the modern German-speaking world. The essays collected here examine material ranging from eighteenth-century literary and philosophical landmarks, to Viennese modernist art; from colonial missionary literature, to twentieth-century sculpture, film, and music; from National Socialist ideology, to Leftist counterdiscourse.

Spanning a range of literary, visual, and theoretical discourses, these essays identify crucial moments within radical paradigm shifts in the ways the concept of blackness has been employed by European intellectuals. One shift can be observed within the notion of blackness itself, which progresses from a state that precedes political articulation, to one that is negotiated discursively. Another shift sees conservative notions of “race” give way to a recodification of blackness as American rather than African. In this way, blackness becomes linked to the advent of a hegemonic power. A further shift can be discerned in the ways nationalist discourses of colonial supremacy and of an impending “darkening” of Europe progress toward the perception of blackness as an entry-point into the cultural complex known as Amerika, into mass culture, and into European modernity itself.

With an introduction by Werner Sollors, this collection provides valuable, compelling, and timely material and insight for scholars and students interested in modern German-speaking culture, African American and African Diaspora studies, and their intersections.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-4399-7
ISBN-10: 1-4438-4399-7
Date of Publication: 15/12/2012
Pages / Size: 198 / A5
Price: £39.99


Charlotte Szilagyi is a Research Associate in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University, and teaches German and American Film at the Harvard University Extension School. She studied German, American, British, and comparative literatures, with a focus on Black Studies, Jewish Studies, and film studies, in Budapest, Hermannstadt, Erfurt, and Bamberg. She was previously a Fulbright Fellow at Harvard University, where she earned her PhD in Comparative Literature with a secondary degree in Film Studies, and has been a Research Fellow at the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard.

Sabrina K. Rahman is Anniversary Research Fellow at Northumbria University. She was previously Leverhulme Trust Visiting Fellow in the School of Advanced Study at the University of London, and has worked as guest curator at the City Museum of Vienna. She holds her PhD in German Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and also studied Art History at the University of Vienna. Her latest research focuses on cultural and economic policies of global design production in the Austrian and British Empires.

Michael Saman is ACLS New Faculty Fellow in the Department of Germanic Languages at UCLA, and has taught previously at Brown University and the College of William and Mary. He holds his PhD in Germanic Languages and Literatures from Harvard University. His research focuses on German literary and intellectual history of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and on intersections of German and Africana intellectual culture.