WiG sponsored panel at the MLA Annual Conference 2018, 4-7 January in New York City
Organizers: Nicole Coleman and Steffen Kaupp
Due date for proposals: March 10th, 2017
Politicizing Women’s Bodies in the Merkel Age
Angela Merkel has been German chancellor for over a decade now; Germany also has a female defense minister. These facts do not mean, however, that sexism is gone from German politics, advertisement, everyday rhetoric and general assumptions about women, women’s roles, and women’s bodies. The aftermath of the attacks on women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve 2015 can serve as an example: Instead of a debate about antiquated rape laws, the incident was used as a political tool to push an anti-refugee and anti-immigrant agenda. The politicization of women’s bodies became a racial issue as the infamous Focus and Süddeutsche Zeitung covers demonstrated. Here, the white bodies of German women were inappropriately touched by black hands who left their imprints on these bodies while the text focused on the women’s German identity and the migrant background of the assailants. Initiatives such as #ausnahmslos have attempted to move beyond this racialized politicization of the attacks. Those initiatives used the public interest to encourage broader debates about sexism and sexual violence in Germany.
In our panel we ask in what ways women’s bodies are coded and used as political weapons. We are interested in political, historical, and cultural representations (including but not limited to music, film, and literature) that speak to issues such as: women’s bodies that should reproduce (Herdprämie), women’s bodies that shouldn’t be touched by others (racialized discourse and anti-refugee rhetoric), women’s bodies that should or can be legislated (abortion), and women’s bodies that should be dressed (slut shaming, body shaming, dress codes) or rather undressed/unveiled (burqa/burqini). We also encourage contributions that take an opposite, empowering stance where women use their body to embody their resistance against sexism (in music, film, literature). Our focus is on the years 2000-2016 but we also welcome historical research into these issues. We particularly invite contributions that take an intersectional approach.