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  • Remapping Black Germany: New Perspectives on Afro-German History, Politics, and Culture ed. by Sara Lennox
  • Priscilla Layne
Sara Lennox, editor. Remapping Black Germany: New Perspectives on Afro-German History, Politics, and Culture. U of Massachusetts P, 2016. 303 pp. Paper, $31.95.

Remapping Black Germany, an anthology edited by Sara Lennox, brings together fifteen scholars and activists from Germany, the UK, and the US to both take stock of what we have learned thus far about the historical and contemporary experience of Black people in Germany and also offer a vision for how to move Black German activism and Black German studies forward. In chapter 12, Fatima El-Tayeb proposes that now that "Black German studies has moved beyond a state of mere affirmation" (243), its scholars can start to consider how, rather than just being additive, Black German studies might change our understanding of the diaspora. Remapping Black Germany does an excellent job of raising the right questions to do so.

In chapters 1 and 8, Maureen Maisha Eggers and Tina Campt suggest methodologies that can help identify points of resistance to racism and sexism, such as Eggers's discussion of countering oppressive epistemologies or Campt's discussion of visual analysis (reading intimacy in Black German family photos) as a form of resistance. In chapter 2, Nicola Lauré Al-Samarai considers how spirituality can be "re/defined and re/located as the main course in Black diasporic, and especially in Black German, concepts of resistance" (47). And in chapter 3, Dirk Göttsche analyzes contemporary Black German autobiographies as narratives of achievement and overcoming.

Gender is an important thread that runs throughout the twelve essays and two interviews included. What we know of the first Black German movement, which emerged during the Weimar period, largely consists of stories of Black males, mostly from the colonies, who traveled to Germany to work and study and often ended up working in entertainment. In chapters 5 and 6, Tobias Nagl and Christian Rogowski consider how these figures' subjectivity as Black men both informed their experience of Germany and how they were represented in the public.

Intersectional feminism is another important theme because of its relevance for the second Black German movement. While diasporic communities that focused on nationalism have tended to adhere to the patriarchal norms that comes along with it, as Eggers points out in chapter 1, the second Black German movement benefited from the influence of African American feminist Audre Lorde and the fact that many Black [End Page 167] German women coming into adulthood in the postwar period initially found a home among German feminists. Feminism and community are also discussed in the conversation between several activists and scholars who have played an important role in the Black Women's movement in the last thirty years: Katharina Oguntoye, Katja Kinder, Eggers, and Peggy Piesche. Their conversation especially conveys the diversity of the movement, which Oguntoye describes as a "train that got longer and longer and faster and faster and just couldn't be steered in one single direction anymore" (263).

Although most of the chapters address either historical texts or contemporary social issues, in chapter 4 Robert Bernasconi contextualizes and discusses the racist German philosophical positions that provide the base for contemporary prejudices. In chapter 7, Maria I. Diedrich considers how a fictional account such as John Williams's Clifford's Blues, relayed by a gay, black, male prisoner of a concentration camp, attempts to represent the diversity of experience we might suspect existed during Nazi Germany, even if we do not encounter it in the autobiographical accounts. The question of missing voices is also relevant for Nagl's, Stark's, and Piesche's chapters, which all highlight the importance of identifying marginalized voices that may have been forgotten or overshadowed and trying our best to piece together what we can find.

In the introduction, Lennox offers a very helpful framing of the Black German experience from colonialism to the present. In addition, several of the chapters, such as those by Piesche, Fehrenbach, and Campt, offer us a snapshot of some of the larger arguments these scholars have explored in their monographs and essays. Remapping Black...


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