Afropessimism, Afrofuturism, and Black German Studies(Panel)
Kajal Mukhopadhyay (Duke University)
In her insightful book Physics of Blackness: Beyond the Middle Passage Epistemology (2015), Michelle Wright, whose contribution to contemporary Black scholarship has been significant, shows how the scholars of Black studies in the United States, such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Henry Gates, and Paul Gilroy use the Middle Passage and the trans-Atlantic slave trade as the central epistemological point to construct a Black collective identity through a linear spatial and progressive temporal narrative (43). However, this approach to constructing a collective Black identity cannot be imposed on other Black communities as many of them “trace an immediate or even slightly more removed ancestry through other geographical pathways” (44). Therefore, adopting the U.S. theoretical paradigms to engage with the issues of other Black communities runs the risk of ignoring cultural and historical diversities among various Black population groups worldwide.
While Wright’s argument has been persuasive and crucial, this panel seeks to explore whether theories like Afropessimism and Afrofuturism, which are products of U.S.-centric Black studies discourse, can be valuable resources to understand and examine contemporary Black German literary works. Works of authors like May Ayim, Sharon Otto, Jackie Thomae, Noah Sow, Michael Götting, Olumide Popoola, Ika Hügel-Marshall, and others will be the focus of the conversation. In addition, the panel welcomes the inclusion of German films, theaters, and other performing arts to broaden the scope of discussion.
Questions we hope to address are the following (but not limited to):
· Which aspects should one consider while discussing Black studies in the cultural context of Europe?
· How do authors under discussion engage with the U.S.-centric theoretical paradigms like Afripessimism and Afrofuturism?
· Do these authors go beyond the traditional dichotomy between Afropessimism and Afrofuturism and propose a new theoretical framework?
· Do the works of these authors offer any distinctive approach that may be useful to shed light on Black studies scholarship in the United States?
This panel explores whether theories like Afropessimism and Afrofuturism, which are products of U.S.-centric Black studies discourse, can be valuable resources to understand and examine contemporary Black German literary works.