CFP: Mutual Aid, Allyship and Reciprocity in German Studies Panel at the Modern Languages Association Conference (15.03.2022)

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CFP: Mutual Aid, Allyship and Reciprocity in German Studies Panel at the Modern Languages Association Conference, January 5 – 8, 2023 (San Francisco, CA), proposals due Tuesday March 15, 2022

Please consider submitting an abstract to our session Mutual Aid, Allyship and Reciprocity in German Studies” for the MLA conference taking place January 5 – 8, 2023 in San Francisco, CA. Submissions for the panels are due by March 15, 2022. This session is organized by the 20th- and 21st-Century German Forum.

This series of panels explores the topics of mutual aid, allyship and reciprocity in German Studies, German-language literature, film, philosophy and the public sphere. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it blatantly obvious that we are living in a state of ongoing crises” (Lauren Berlant). But not all of these crises were created by the pandemic. For example, the financial, mental health and social justice crises we were already witnessing pre-pandemic have become exacerbated, legible through  questions of basic livelihood (students and faculty who are unhoused, don’t have a living wage and/or don’t have access to basic health care) and  professional issues (equity in publishing,  teaching and promotion, for example). In response, many artists, scholars and activists have emphasized that we cannot simply return to “normal.” Instead, we must challenge the status quo and continue reimagining new ways of communal and cooperative living now that inequity and inequality on a global scale have become more readily apparent. Thus, not only are we living in an age of crises, but also a new era of cooperation. The pandemic has also allowed for connectivity, collective community building, and coalitional activism in ways that cut across institutional and geopolitical borders to offer alternative modes of being together, ways that correspond to Sandy Grande's call for collectivity, reciprocity and mutuality. This panel invites papers addressing past and current discourses around mutual aid, allyship and reciprocity. How have artists, scholars and activists been working collectively to support each other? To undermine institutions? To undermine the marketplace? How has social media facilitated or impeded such collaboration? How have authors and filmmakers tried to translate this experience to the page or the screen?

We encourage submissions that parse engagement with and representation of mutual aid (in Germany, in the German language and in German Studies). Possible topics include, but are not limited to the following issues:

  • What past theories of mutual aid, allyship and reciprocity have been revived?
  • How has thinking about mutual aid in Germany shifted since reunification?
  • What are the East German legacies of mutual aid? e.g. the Bitterfelder Weg?
  • How do German theories of allyship and reciprocity relate to international examples such as Sartre’s “engaged literature”? Or Moten and Stefano’s “undercommons” and “fugitive spaces”?
  • How has social media contributed to, facilitated or hindered authors and artists’ ability to work collectively?
  • How do German authors address mutuality and allyship in their non-fiction writing e.g. Sharon Dodua Otoo’s “Dürfen Schwarze Blumen malen     ”?
  • What are examples of coalitions and collisions within and outside German academia and publishing?
  • How do dialogic models of recognition and identity formation relate to allyship and reciprocity?
  • How does mutual aid contribute to refusing the isolationism and individualism of neoliberalism and capitalism?
  • How have the concepts of mutual aid, allyship and reciprocity influenced networking among contingent faculty?
  • How does mutual aid relate to concepts and realities of class, gender and race?

Please submit 300-word abstracts and a short bio to Priscilla Layne ( by March 15, 2022. If your proposal is accepted, you must be an MLA member by April 7, 2022. You may only have two roles at the convention.