CFP: 46th Annual Convention of the German Studies Association, 15- 18 September 2022 in Houston, TX, Panel Series: The Films of Branwen Okpako, Abstracts due Feb. 28

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Call for Papers

46th Annual Convention of the German Studies Association

15- 18 September 2022 in Houston, TX


Panel Series: The Films of Branwen Okpako

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Okpako studied directing in Berlin, and her graduation film, Dreckfresser (2000), a portrait of an Afro-German police officer in the GDR, won numerous international prizes. Her fiction feature Tal der Ahnungslosen (2003), a story of an Afro-German abandoned girl and now police woman discovering her biological parent's past, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and competed at the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou. Die Geschichte der Auma Obama (2011), a feature-length documentary about Barack Obama’s sister’s creative path and postcolonial and feminist consciousness, won multiple awards. And the documentary-drama Der Fluch der Medea (2014)a film about the late (East) German author Christa Wolf, premiered at the Berlinale. Okpako teaches at UC Davis and is currently completing Chibok Girls, a feature film based on the 2016 novel by Nigerian author Helon Habila about the mass abduction in northern Nigeria.

Okpako’s films, as Angelica Fenner has written in a 2012 interview with the filmmaker, “open up axes of communication between African and European cultures under evolving conditions of globalization.” In her important work, Okpako confronts misconceptions about Afro-Germanness, Blackness at large, and womanhood. Her oeuvre awakens silenced memories of a lonely childhood in East Germany or the West and digs up repressed thoughts and pasts or complicity with totalitarian and disciplinary regimes. At the same time, the filmmaker’s work has a clear political agenda of self-empowerment, from giving voice to family his/herstories fractured by adoption or the absence of parents, to women like Auma Obama and Christa Wolf striving and succeeding in empowering themselves and empowering others.

Branwen Okpako is one of the keynote speakers at the 2022 BGHRA conference (February 17-20, 2022) and was featured in 2021 as one of the prominent guests at the virtual film festival Black Lives in Germany: Resilience-Art-Hope curated by Kevina King and sponsored by the DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst.  

We invite contributions to a series of panels on Branwen Okpako’s films, on such topics as:

-          Afro-Germanness and Afro-German creativity and artistic production;

-          form, filmmaking, and aesthetics;

-          postcolonial and feminist consciousness at the intersections of multiple cultural and familial traditions, norms, values;

-          regimes of the body; femininity and gender;

-          engagement with disciplinary regimes, e.g. the police, political regimes, or language;

-          German reunification and its repercussion on discourses of racialization, positionality and representation in Europe and Germany;

-          family his- and herstories;

-          affiliation and belonging;

-          political activism and self-empowerment;

-          reception of Branwen Okpako’s films.


This panel series is co-sponsored by the Black German Heritage & Research Association and the DEFA Film Library.

Please submit a 300-word abstract by February 28, 2022 to Rosemarie H. Peña (BGHRA President at and Mariana Ivanova (DEFA Film Library Academic Director,

The selection committee consists of: Kevina King (BGHRA Vice President, Project Assistant at the DEFA Film Library,, Emily Frazier-Rath (Executive Director of the BGHRA Institute,, and Sara Lennox (BGHRA Principal Consultant and Prof. emerita UMass Amherst,