CFP: GSA 2021 - Diversifying the East German Past and Present, Indianapolis (31.01.2021)

Sonja Klocke Discussion

Open Call for Papers sponsored by the GSA Interdisciplinary GDR and German Socialisms Network for the 45th Annual Conference of the German Studies Association, Indianapolis, IN, September 30 - October 3, 2021.


Deadline: January 31, 2021


Diversifying the East German Past and Present


The dramatic protests around the Black Lives Matter Movement in summer 2020 instigated public discussions about race that took place well beyond the borders of the United States. In Germany, for example, the Gorki Theater in Berlin hosted the “Tage der jüdisch-muslimischen Leitkultur” in October and November 2020. In their opening panel on October 3 – on the occasion of the “Tag der VerUnEinigung” – a number of writers, including Mely Kiyak, Angelika Nguyen, and Peggy Piesche, talked about the experience of growing up as non-white children in Germany, East and West.


The non-white experience in East Germany has been the focus of a number of books, articles, and exhibitions. Most recently, Olivia Wenzel’s autobiographical novel 1000 Serpentinen Angst (2020) and Jackie Thomae’s novel Brüder (2019) have been discussed widely. Similarly, Anh Tran won the Deutsche Radiopreis 2020 in the category of the best newcomer for her report on growing up in Dresden as the child of a Vietnamese mother, the experience of being categorized as a “Fidschi,” and on racism as expressed by Pegida today. There have also been art exhibitions, such as “A Million Roses for Angela Davis” currently at the Albertinum in Dresden, that seek to “initiate discussion about the background, flaws, and unfulfilled potential of [the] unusual relationship between [the American black civil rights activist] Davis and the GDR.”


For the 2021 GSA, the “GDR and Socialisms Network” would like to continue this conversation with a series of panels that investigate race, racism, and the gamut of experiences of living, working, and growing up in the GDR as a person of color. Possible topics include (but are not limited to):


- explorations of the lived experiences of non-white Germans in East Germany, or of students

   or so-called Vertragsarbeiter from Vietnam, Mozambique, etc.

- examinations of how issues of race have been materialized in cultural artifacts such

   as art, film, literature, and music, both in the GDR and since unification

- investigations of the role that racism and state-proclaimed antifascism played in every-

   day life in East Germany or in its cultural products

- critical reflections on the state of the scholarship on this topic since Quinn 

   Slabodian’s pioneering Comrades of Color (2015) 


Please submit a 200 to 250-word abstract and a short CV (no more than two pages) to April Eisman ( and Sonja Klocke ( by January 31, 2021. We expect to create a sequence of 2-4 panels.

The GDR and GERMAN SOCIALISMS NETWORK is a vehicle for connecting the diversity of current scholarship on the GDR with a broader academic base that explores the impact and meanings of Socialism in all of its manifestations, from its beginnings in the 19th century to the present. Encouraging both speculative and empirical methodologies, the Network seeks to bring together scholars operating in all fields and time periods for a productive exchange that questions the world in which we live and the political machinations that created it.

Redaktion: Constanze Baum – Lukas Büsse – Mark-Georg Dehrmann – Nils Gelker – Markus Malo – Alexander Nebrig – Johannes Schmidt

Diese Ankündigung wurde von H-GERMANISTIK [Johannes Schmidt] betreut –