Conversation Whiteness and Collective Trauma in the Rearview Mirror

Whiteness and Collective Trauma in the Rearview Mirror  | Alice Hasters and Mohamed Amjahid in conversation with Akasemi Newsome

Fri, 03/04/2022

4:00 PM PT

Online UC Berkeley

Alice Hasters and Mohamed Amjahid in conversation Akasemi Newsome

Organized by the Institute of European Studies at UC Berkeley, the Pacific Regional Office of the German Historical Institute Washington, and the Goethe-Institut San Francisco.
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From the statue of slave trader Edward Colston toppled into the sea in Bristol, UK, to the defacing of a bust of former Belgian King Leopold II in Ghent, Black Lives Matter activists in Europe have stoked public debate about racism and Europe’s colonial past making headline news in recent months. Germany, too has been the setting of heated discussions and demonstrations on that nation’s role in slavery and colonialism and its legacy today. However, these developments have been particularly fraught in a German context given the shadow of the Nazi past and the extensive deep rooted practice of Holocaust education and commemoration that has permeated German society since the 1980s.
Thus, the Institute of European Studies at UC Berkeley, the Pacific Regional Office of the German Historical Institute Washington, and the Goethe-Institut San Francisco are launching a series of conversations to examine the relationship of these more recent reckonings with racism and colonial violence to Germany's long-standing reckonings with its Nazi past. We introduce perspectives from art, photography, architecture, and material culture, rooted in memorial sites and museums, as well as in film, literature, and podcasts. Our goal with this series is to address the role of race and racism in who can legitimately remember the nation’s past in Germany, what constitutes the bounds of the national past, and the ways in which it has and continues to be remembered.

For the first episode on March 4, 2022 of the conversation series Conversations on Memory Cultures in Contemporary Germany, we have invited journalists Alice Hasters and Mohamed Amjahid. Both authors have written on whiteness as a socially stratifying concept in contemporary multicultural Germany. Hasters and Amjahid will discuss the importance of critically questioning and picking apart German memory culture, Whiteness and the idea of a “Dominanzgesellschaft”(dominant society) in Germany, They will also examine the link between discourses in Germany and the United States in the transatlantic media landscape.

Alice Hasters was born in Cologne in 1989 and works in Berlin as a writer for several German media outlets including Rundfunk Brandenburg Berlin, Tagesschau and Deutschlandfunk, among others. Together with Maxi Häcke, she hosts "Feuer&Brot," a monthly podcast on feminism and pop culture. Her book Was weiße Menschen nicht über Rassismus hören wollen aber wissen sollten, (What white people don't want to hear about racism but should know) was published in 2019 by hanseblau and became a bestseller.

Mohamed Amjahid was born as the son of so-called guest workers in Frankfurt am Main in 1988. He studied political science in Berlin and Cairo. After completing his master's degree, Amjahid worked for several prominent German newspapers. He is now a freelance investigative journalist currently working on several new book projects. His latest book was published in 2021 by Piper publishing and is titled, Der weiße Fleck: eine Anleitung zu antirassistischem Denken (Whitewash. A Guide to Anti-racist Thinking).

Akasemi Newsome is the associate director of the Institute of European Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and associate director of research at the Global, International and Area Studies Hub, both at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research on the politics of labor, immigration, and comparative racialization addresses topics at the forefront of international and comparative political economy, including rights and global governance, institutions, capitalist development, and social movements. In addition to three co-edited special issues and published articles in International Relations, the Journal of European Integration, Comparative Labor Law and Policy Journal, Perspectives on Europe, and PS: Political Science and Politics, her book manuscript The Color of Solidarity examines the conditions for labor union support of immigrant claims-making in Europe. She is also a co-editor (with Marianne Riddervold and Jarle Trondal) of The Palgrave Handbook of EU Crises (2021).