Prof. Dr. Martina Pamanabhan, Chair of Critical Development Studies - Southeast Asia
Anti-racism is theory and practice to counter discrimination in the city and at the university. In the traditional lecture series Diversity, Gender & Intersectionality under the auspices of Vice-President Prof. Dr. Christina Hansen and the University’s Women's Representative Prof. Dr. Andrea Sieber and in cooperation with the Department for Diversity and Gender Equality, this winter is all about anti-racism and how we can understand it theoretically and live it practically in everyday university life, but also in e.g. the climate protection movement. Speakers from all over Germany and the UK will offer insights into the latest research on racism in international development cooperation, in educational institutions in Germany, and on how we can unlearn racism. The academic view will be joined by the perspective of civil society actors, such as the magazine makers OF COLOR. As a "Christmas present", Passau citizens and students will discuss their concrete approaches to anti-racist solidarity.
All these insights are based on intersectionality as a theoretical approach to analyse the entanglements of inequality through gender, class, ethnicity/nationality and age, among others. The university as a site of social change provides the space for debates on structural and institutional discrimination while seeking change. The diversification and decolonisation of teaching and research are challenges not only in everyday academic life. We will discuss with academics, civil society organisations and students how this can be achieved in Passau, throughout Germany and internationally. The theory and practice of anti-racism is the focus of this lecture series, which consciously relates academic analysis and social engagement.
We renamed the chair of “Comparative development and Cultural studies with a focus on Southeast Asia” to “Critical Development Studies—Southeast Asia”. This is the outcome of an intense intellectual, political and yet intimate process over the last three years. In 2019 a group of international students from the MA Development Studies program reported the shock of experiencing racism in study groups and when looking for shared housing. While confined to online teaching, during class one student found the courage to share their experience of a racist incident on public transport in Passau, the perpetrator humiliating him before vanishing into anonymity. These distressing and painful aggressions urged us to start reflecting on our responsibilities and capabilities, as a chair at the university, to act upon discrimination and racism which still permeate higher education. Building upon feminist political ecology (FPE), post-development, decolonial theory and new area studies, we engaged in a process of learning, unlearning and relearning building up to “Principles of Critical Development Studies: A Minifesto”. We present here a collection of small but significant ideas and hope the commitment to pluralism will help shape the teaching practice and learning environment of the university as a whole.
Prof. Dr. Martina Padmanabhan holds the Chair Critical Development Studies - Southeast Asia at Passau University. She is an agricultural engineer and graduated in rural sociology at the University of Göttingen. She researches widely on gender relations, institutions and rural development and contributes to the debate on human-nature relationship, especially agrobiodiversity. She led international trans- and interdisciplinary sustainability projects i.e. on the use of biodiversity in South India and the societal transformation of agriculture via organic practices in Indonesia. She is part of the Feminist Political Ecology network WeGO. She is enthusiastic about feminist empirical fieldwork in Indonesia, India, Ghana and Ethiopia.
Dimas D. Laksmana is a doctoral candidate at the Chair of Critical Development Studies - Southeast Asia at Passau University. He graduated in environmental science and policy. His research lies at the intersection of science and technology studies and anthropology. His doctoral work as part of IndORGANIC, which is a transdisciplinary research project, investigates the politics of knowledge in organic agriculture in Indonesia.
Siti Maimunah is a Ph.D. student at the University of Passau, Germany, and she is a researcher for WEGO-ITN/ Mare Sklodowska Project 2018-2022. She is an activist and researcher working alongside NGOs to support communities affected by extractivism projects in Indonesia with JATAM, TKPT, and Sajogyo Institute. Her research combines activism and academic works to understand how the configuration of the Capitalist frontier through mega projects such as mining and logging shaped ethnicity, gender, and intersectionality on Kalimantan island, Indonesia.
Principles of Critical Development Studies SOA – Minifesto ASIEN
Laksmana, Dimas Dwi, Enid Still, and Martina Padmanabhan. 2021. We need to talk about racism. An invitation to join a conversation about racism at the University of Passau. A statement of the Chair of Comparative Development and Cultural Studies – Southeast Asia on: Decoloniality and empathy: Towards education that matters in our time.
We explore the theory and practice of intersectionality and decoloniality with regard to the case of the University of Passau to understand its importance for higher education and research. Drawing on feminist theory and research praxis we explore intersectional approaches to understanding social relations at our university from different standpoints and how this is interwoven into decoloniality. Based on student projects and our joint learning in winter term 21/22 we introduce to intersectionality as a concept and practice and how social movements have mobilised an intersectional perspective both before and since the term was coined. We investigate our own experiences as international and German students at the intersections of gender, age, caste, ethnicity, race and class through autoethnography and a net-mapping exercise. By doing so, we encounter how intersectionality as a lens operates to destabilise colonial ways of seeing. By presenting the results of the research and teaching project, we demonstrate why intersectionality is important to the political process of decolonising our very own University of Passau.
Daniela Melissa Escarria Parra is a Colombian lawyer passionate about human rights and international law. After graduating in 2019, she was awarded the Helmut Schimdt scholarship offered by DAAD. Thanks to this, she is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Governance and Public Policy at the University of Passau. Additionally, she is currently highly interested in Critical Discourse Analysis and Intersectionality to pursue social justice.
Joeta Ndwiga is currently pursuing her M.A. in Development Studies at the University of Passau. She is passionate about exploring solutions that have social and environmental impacts on her community and society, and her professional experience has revolved around food security, capacity building of farmers groups, and implementation of irrigation development projects in the national and county governments in Kenya. Her study concentration focuses on rural development, gender and development, sustainability development, and intersectionality, specifically in this research she employed the autoethnography research method to reflect on her personal experiences of microaggression as an international student of color and how they have impacted and shaped her student life. She is currently conducting her Masters’ thesis research on Solidarische Landwirtschaft - Passau, as an alternative shift in the food system.
Ferdyani Atikaputri is DAAD Helmut-Schmidt Programme scholarship holder and active student at M.A. Development Studies University of Passau. Prior coming to Passau, she was a professional development worker managing sustainable development projects with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and government of Indonesia. She continues expressing her interest in development sector through community engagement and research. She is currently active in an Indonesian community, Rumah Aman Kita (RUANITA) that focus on mental health, gender equality, and women empowerment for Indonesian living abroad. In this research, she elaborates intersectionality and net-map approach to analyze the involvement of actors in higher education system and students’ well-being during COVID-19 pandemic.
Nicole Borges Steeb (M.A. Governance and Public Policy) holds a vast interdisciplinary and international background situated at the intersection of social change and political processes. Despite a Bachelor in European Studies (Catholic University Of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt) with a focus on European languages, history, and culture, she is constantly connected to her second home country Brazil (both physically and) through her research topics. In her autoethnography, she investigates her time as an exchange student in Colombia (Universidad de Antioquia). The experience as a whole demonstrates the need for an intersectional and decolonial approach inside universities in both the physical and epistemological space.
Anna Kolb absolved the first state examination in 2019 in primary school didactics with a focus on politics and society at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg. Then, she decided to expand her knowledge and skills in extracurricular education. Since the winter semester 2020/21, she has therefore been studying the research oriented Master's degree in Education and Educational Processes at the University of Passau with a focus on educational management. Her Interests and main areas of study are educational inequality, equal opportunities, innovations in the education sector. Moreover, she conducted a research project in a seminar on intersectionality, where she used autoethnography to address the following question: To what extent are her experiences at university shaped by her own positioning and upbringing as a working class child.
Bhambra, G. K. (2014) ‘Postcolonial and decolonial dialogues’, Postcolonial Studies. Taylor & Francis, 17(2), pp. 115–121. doi: 10.1080/13688790.2014.966414.
Icaza, R. and Vázquez, R. (2018) ‘Diversity or Decolonisation? Researching Diversity at the University of Amsterdam’, in Bhambra, G. K., Gebrial, D. and Nişancıoğlu, K. (eds.) Decolonising the University, London: Pluto Press, pp 108-128
Session in German
In this lecture the concept of intersectionality and the critique of racism in the practice will be shown. As a platform for the critique of racism, the magazine "of Color" stands for the empowerment and representation of Bi_Poc and is addressed to Bi_Poc and to everyone who wants to learn about the critique of racism. In July 2022 the second print edition about the concept of intersectionality was published. How does the concept of intersectionality in the practice look like? Where are the limits of the intersectional work of "of Color"? What is the vision behind this platform? These questions will be discussed and answered in this lecture.
Pia Ihedioha studies elementary school education at the University of Passau. Outside of her studies she works as a teacher of civic education and did workshops focusing on antiracism and empowerment. She is a co-founder of the magazine "of Color". "of Color" is a platform for the critique on racism and represents Bi_Poc in the media. Since 2020 Pia volunteers together with a team of 10 members to create the vision behind "of Color".
Session in German
We experience the world intersectionally and at the same time we see others as members of a category - man, woman, black, young, old. Many of these categories are binary and the debates around people who are trans* (trans* gender, trans* race) highlight that very many people in Western culture are unsettled by ambiguity. Research shows that racialised thinking is so deeply socially embedded that even people who are blind from birth perceive others as racialised subjects. The visual "evidence" of human differences that Western culture, including science, relies on, must therefore be rethought.
So can we see in a way that resembles our own intersectional experience as bodies in the world? To answer this question, we need to understand how social categories emerge from visual clues and the extent to which categories shape our visual perception. In the search for ways to see differently - intersectionally - I draw on both academic, interdisciplinary sources and artistic practice in my talk. This can help us to make 'seeing through culture' explicit and thus open the space for more intersectionality.
Prof. Dr. Magdalena Nowicka is Head of the Department of Integration at the DeZIM Institute and Honorary Professor at the Institute for Social Sciences at the Humboldt University of Berlin. Nowicka is a sociologist with an interdisciplinary background in political and cultural studies from Poland and Germany. Her research interests are Transnationalism of migrants in diversity, conviviality and racism.
She has published on racism in the context of immigration and Brexit ("I don't mean to sound racist but ... " Transforming racism in transnational Europe, published in Ethnic and Racial Studies 41, 2018) and on the intersection of racism and masculinity (with Katarzyna Wojnicka, Understanding Migrant Masculinities through a Spatially Intersectional Lens, published in Men&Masculinities 2021). Her most recent publications include the book Revisualising Intersectionality (Palgrave, 2022, with Elahe Hashemi Yekani and Tiara Roxanne).
Session in German
We all live in a society that has (re)produced racist practices and discourses for centuries. Therefore, it is almost impossible not to have racist knowledge. However, recognising this (learned) knowledge, bringing it into one's own consciousness and reflecting on it repeatedly is possible and the goal of racism-critical practice. But can this knowledge ever be completely discarded?
This lecture offers an introduction and overview of racism-critical migration education and its development. The focus will be on current positions, previous discourses and the interplay between theoretical points of contact and practical educational work in the immigration society.
Zehranur Manzak, graduate in education (Univ.), is an education consultant at the youth education centre in Lower Franconia and is in charge of the couragiert unit. As part of her work, she designs seminars and works as a trainer with different groups who want to further their education in the context of a migration society and who want to be sensitised to rasism-critical moments. She is also a systemic ounsellor and works with family dynamics and biography work.
The seemingly limitless Imperial ambition of Europe’s great powers has irretrievably transformed the world. By the time that Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain in 1492, Europe had already begun the enactment of an expansionary vision that resulted in the downfall of civilisations and over 400 years of the violent extraction of land, people and resources. How does our shared colonial past continue to shape our present? In this lecture we will use both historical and contemporary lenses to understand why calls to ‘decolonise’ are getting louder. Many scholars over many years, both as subjects of Empire and in the post-WWII years as European Empires steadily declined, have raised concerns about the tendency to presume that the West has the monopoly on useful knowledge. This conceptualisation of ‘knowledge’ in turn underpins enduring perceptions of, for instance, progress, or the primacy of the West as ‘civilised’ or ‘advanced’ against a ‘backward’ or ‘poor’ developing world. The idea that the West represents the pinnacle of civilisation or ‘development’ to which all other countries must aspire, a view that also underpins dominant approaches to ‘aid’, reveals a pernicious and deeply ahistorical understanding of the diversity of people’s social, economic and political lives the world over. Yet we are also now facing more and more seemingly intractable and interconnected global challenges that are affecting an ever-larger number of stakeholders. Market turmoil and financial/global debt crisis, food and water security, rapid climate change and the inequalities that have become starker as a result of the failure of the global community to come together to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, have led some to search for new explanations. Calls to re-examine our shared colonial pasts are at least partly a response to this search, offering potentially new perspectives on the historical roots of the challenges we face in our global present.
Prof. Dr. Lata Narayanaswamy is an Associate Professor in the Politics of Global Development at the School of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), University of Leeds. Since 2001 Prof. Dr. Narayanaswamy has worked as a research practitioner, consultant and now an academic working at the nexus between development theory and practice. Her research critically reflects on gendered/intersectional and post/decolonial dynamics of development knowledge and its perceived contribution to addressing global development challenges. She is currently involved in applied, interdisciplinary research related to gender/feminism/ intersectionality as these relate to climate change, water security and decolonising development.
While almost a century has passed since WEB Du Bois wrote about the global colour line and it is 50 years since Guyanese Marxist scholar and activist Walter Rodney wrote How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, it is only very recently, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, that many organisations involved in international development have begun talking for the first time about racism in development. Much of this discussion has not gone beyond considering the need for greater diversity among the personnel of these institutions who are located in the Global North. In this lecture, I suggest that racism needs to be understood materially, and as operating globally, structuring the global inequalities and patterns of exploitation, extraction and accumulation within which development is embedded, and inseparable from ongoing processes of imperialism. I consider some of the forms of embodied racialised violence in development, which are always also gendered. And I suggest that we must recognise sources of resistance to these racialized structures of global capital accumulation in political and social movements taking place across continents, in which other kinds of worlds are being envisioned and fought for.
Kalpana Wilson is a Lecturer in the Geography Department at Birkbeck, University of London. Her research explores questions of race/gender, labour, imperialism, fascism and reproductive rights and justice, with a particular focus on South Asia and its diasporas. She is the author of Race, Racism and Development: Interrogating History, Discourse and Practice (Zed Books, 2012) and co-editor of Gender, Agency and Coercion (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). She has written widely on themes of international development, revolutionary social movements and reproductive justice. She is a founder member of the campaigning organisation South Asia Solidarity Group.
Session in German
The climate crisis does not affect everyone equally, quite the opposite. It differentiates according to race, gender, geographical location, socio-economic background, age, physical limitations and many other categories. Using the example of Black, Indigenous and Women of Colour (BIWoC), this lecture shows that, on the one hand, marginalised groups are particularly affected by the climate crisis and, on the other hand, it is precisely BIWoC who not only take on leading roles in the climate movement, but from whose specialised knowledge, based on their intersectional oppression, their (survival) struggle and their way of producing and passing on knowledge, the climate movement can learn in unexpected ways. Contrary to what is often assumed, the climate movement in a broad sense is not "too white", it is actually Black, Indigenous and People of Colour who have been shaping this movement for decades. It is time that they receive the recognition and appreciation they deserve. A brief analysis of the origins of intersectional feminism in Black feminisms and Black women's struggles is followed by theory-based and intersectional feminist guidelines for the climate movement gained through interviews with BIWoC climate activists. These guidelines are a proposal to help the climate movement to have a vision, to take into account the interconnectedness and interdependence of global challenges in its protest; to recognise that these have different implications for marginalised people and to prioritise the protection of people as well as the environment. To confront the climate crisis, radical systemic change is needed, climate justice is the strategy to be applied and intersectional feminism provides the perspective to implement it.
Sheena Anderson explores intersectional perspectives and how they can promote greater global justice and responsibility. She wants to contribute to the hearing and visibility of marginalised voices and question discriminatory structures. She gained work experience at the Landeszentrale für politische Bildung BW in the area of strengthening democracy and as a freelancer in political education work. She also completed further training as an anti-bias multiplier. In the course of her studies, she specialised in peace and sustainability, intersectionality, war and gender, post-conflict states and international law. She is an activist with the Black Earth Collective in Berlin and has been working at the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy since 2020.
Session in German
As a "Christmas present", we will discuss with Passau citizens and students their concrete approaches to anti-racist solidarity. Till Hoffmann from Passau, organiser of the Eulenspielfestival, reports on his involvement in the Bellevue de Monaco in Munich, a house project with refugees that has nationwide appeal. Perdita Wingerter, chairwoman of the active and multi-award-winning association „Gemeinsam leben und lernen in Europa“ (Living and Learning Together in Europe) in Passau gives insights into what anti-racist work can look like on the ground in our small university town. Together with them we discuss where there is still room for improvement at the University and in the city and what needs to be done to make Passau safe for everyone.
Till Hofmann, born in 1970 and raised in Passau, is a culture and concert organizer. He runs cabaret and music stages in Munich and Vienna, operates a label and is responsible for festivals with the Eulenspiegel Flying Circus.
He is also founder and chairman of the social cooperative "Bellevue di Monaco" for refugees.
Perdita Wingerter is the managing director of the non-profit association "Gemeinsam leben und lernen in Europa" (Living and Learning Together in Europe), which successfully implements a variety of projects and actions to combat racism and xenophobia and to promote tolerance and diversity. In addition, as the owner of IQM Wingerter, she works as an independent project consultant and lecturer. As an expert on the topic of volunteering, integration and equal opportunities as well as on the topic of combating racism and xenophobia, she regularly gives seminars and/or lectures at regional, national and European level.
Session in German
Session only online
Racism is political and the political is shaped by racism. In many parts of German society, homogeneity advocates and diversity enthusiasts are irreconcilably opposed to each other. Lorenz Narku Laing analyses the post-homogeneous society and shows that racist politics are part of the core business of homogeneity advocates. His postcolonial critique examines the deeper reasons for this and at the same time provides a critical intervention in (political) scientific research. It becomes clear that racism is much more than discrimination and disadvantage: Racism is a political ideology.
Prof. Dr. Lorenz Narku Laing is a Professor of Social Sciences and Racism-Research at the Evangelische Hochschule Rheinland-Westfalen-Lippe. Dr. Laing is founder and managing director of Vielfaltsprojekte GmbH, certified diversity trainer and racism researcher. In 2020, Dr Laing was honoured as 30 under 30 of the #GenerationGrenzenlos by the Hertie Foundation. He received the Zeppelin University Award for Excellence in Teaching and his latest project on discrimination in sports won the Innovation Award for Volunteerism from the State Government of Bavaria. In 2022, his book on "Political Racism" was published by transcript-Verlag. As a diversity consultant, he accompanies Dax corporations, TV stations and theatres.
Session in German
Based on an analysis of exemplary work materials of the school subject geography, it will be shown to what extent stereotypes can be reproduced and sometimes categorised in the sense of postcolonial othering even and especially in lessons that stand for global learning and education in sustainable development. Based on this, the necessity and potential of education critical of racism and postcolonial perspectives in the classroom are reflected upon. Selected interview excerpts with teachers will be used to outline the extent to which awareness of various dimensions of discrimination should be raised, especially in the first phase of teacher training at university. In doing so, intersectional interrelations with other areas will also be addressed.
Trigger warning: In the first part of the lecture, few examples (text and image) are shown that can evoke negative emotions.
Dr. Andreas Eberth studied geography, German language and literature studies and educational science at the University of Trier. From 2014-2022, he was a research assistant in the Didactics of Geography department at the Institute for Didactics of Science at Leibniz Universität Hannover. In the winter semester 2022/2023, he is representing the professorship for Didactics of Geography at the Justus Liebig University of Gießen. His work focuses on education for sustainable development/global learning, visual geographies, education critical of racism and postcolonial perspectives in education as well as regionally in East Africa.
Session in German
Based on empirical surveys of welcome initiatives within the framework of the BMBF joint projects "Welcome Culture and Democracy in Germany", the brochure "Democracy and Participation in the Migration Society" that was developed in the project will be discussed. The analysis of the post-migrant German society and the embedded racism, sexism and heteronormativity represent the methodological starting point of the lecture. How can racism, sexism and heteronormative orientations be unlearned? How is this unlearning connected to raising awareness and acknowledging privileges? In the lecture, a multimethod, racism-critical, and diversity-sensitive approach is presented and discussed as an anti-essentialist approach.
Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Tuider has held the chair of Sociology of Diversity with a special focus on the dimension of gender since 2011. Her work and research focuses on gender and queer studies, cultural and postcolonial studies, the critique of racism and migration research. She is influenced by social inequality studies and social movements in Latin American countries. She was also on the board of the "Fachgesellschaft Geschlechterstudien" and has realised several BMBF-funded research projects, including the joint project "Willkommenskultur und Demokratie in Deutschland" (Welcome Culture and Democracy in Germany).
Can Higher Education respond to the possibility of an ethical life that is not structurally implicated with the suffering and the consumption of the life of earth and others? In this lecture, I will set some of the elements of decolonial feminism that can help us to address the erasure of experiences that can teach us about overcoming the destruction of the earth and of ways of knowing and forms of knowledge.
Dr. Rosalba Icaza is a decolonial feminist and Full Professor of Global Politics, Feminisms and Decoloniality at the Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University of Rotterdam. She is member of the Red Transnational Otros Saberes (RETOS), co-convenes the transnational learning group "Nurturing (each) Other” and collaborates with Suumil Mookt’an in Sinanche, Yucatan, Mexico.
After a semester with current and theoretical input on anti-racism and intersectionality, we will have the chance to discuss possibilities and needs for shaping the University together with Vice President Prof. Dr. Christina Hansen. The specific occasion is the Diversity Audit that the University is currently undergoing. This is a concrete window of opportunity to address structures and processes, but also informal routines and speechlessness in the face of multi-layered discrimination. Prof. Dr. Karsten Fitz and Prof. Dr. Karin Stögner, who have each organised successful lecture series on intersectionality from the sociological and Americanist perspectives, are also involved. We want to use all the insights, flashes of inspiration and productive rage from the passionate lectures and debates at "Walk the talk" to spark short- and long-term change at our University and beyond in our city, and to dream on with our eyes wide open. We are counting on YOUR contribution, wherever you stand on this topic.
Intersectionality as a concept for analysing social inequality focuses on the multidimensionality of social processes of domination and shows that discrimination and inequality of opportunity along the lines of class, gender/sexuality, ethnicity/nationality are to be understood as intertwined. Influenced by Black Feminism, intersectionality was not only an analytical concept but also a political programme from the beginning. Social movements that are intersectional in their self-understanding fight for social, political and economic recognition of structurally marginalised groups. In the process, tensions repeatedly arise both in the formation of theory and in political practice. This field of tension between ideology critique and identity politics makes intersectionality a dynamic and contested field and raises contemporary questions and problems, which the lectures in this interdisciplinary lecture series address.
Except for the last lecture (19 July), all lectures are held in German. For more information on the lectures, see the German version of the page.
The aim of this lecture is to present some issues related to intersectionality and identity debates in Brazil. We will see them against the background of their historical development, from the 1970s onwards, and how they became a heated topic in Brazilian politics nowadays. To understand these debates, that is, the uses (and abuses) of gender, race, and, more recently, intersectionality, we will pursue two analytical levels: how the terms develop and are challenged both in the broader public discourse and in academic and intellectual venues. We will disentangle the traps and potentialities of contested issues that are at the heart of many controversies which are not exclusive to Brazil, but that here acquire particular traits and implications.
Ana Claudia Lopes, PhD, is Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the Federal University of Bahia (Brazil) and Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Department of Philosophy at the University of São Paulo (Brazil). She works on ethics and political philosophy, critical theory, gender and feminism. She has earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Campinas in 2019 with a dissertation on the relationship between practical philosophy and Critical Theory in the work of Seyla Benhabib. She was a visiting researcher at the Cluster of Excellence "The Formation of Normative Orders" at the Goethe University (Germany) (2014/2018). She also works as a translator, being one of the translators of Situating the Self (Seyla Benhabib, 1992) and Justice Interruptus (Nancy Fraser, 1996) to Brazilian Portuguese. She contributed a chapter to the recently published Kritische Theorie und Feminismus, edited by Karin Stögner and Alexandra Colligs.
Can artificial intelligence (AI) discriminate? How can bias in machine learning models be dealt with? And what can fair and diversity-sensitive AI look like?
These and other questions are addressed by the interdisciplinary lecture series "Diversity and Fairness in Artificial Intelligence", which will take place in the winter semester 2021/22 under the direction of Vice President Prof. Dr. Christina Hansen in cooperation with the Diversity and Equality Department.
The lectures will take place mainly on Tuesdays from 18:15 to 19:45 via Zoom and are open to all interested parties. The lectures will be held partly in German, partly in English.
English language translation will be provided.
- Prof. Dr. Florian Lemmerich, University of Passau;
- Miriam Rateike, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems;
- Theresa Tran, Lufthansa Industry Solutions;
Moderation: Isabella Graßl, University of Passau
The unequal treatment of equal facts as well as the equal treatment of unequal facts often happens unconsciously on an individual level - and remains unrecognized. Self-learning algorithms that evaluate corresponding decisions, however, will quickly recognize the underlying patterns and carry the corresponding schematization into the masses where they become obvious. In the case of trivial discriminatory features, this can be detected and corrected - but there are also cases of indirect and covert discrimination, where the consequences may not be immediately apparent even to those reviewing or monitoring the algorithm. For the users of corresponding algorithms, but also for those who create specifications or have to monitor or subsequently enforce them, the question therefore arises as to when and how unequal treatment can or must be avoided in advance or, conversely, whether state sanctions are imposed or redress must be provided. The underlying trade-off is by no means trivial: if even a non-learning algorithm can have unrecognized (indirect) discriminatory consequences, one would hardly impose due diligence obligations on developers or operators.
Speaker: Prof. Dr. Michael Beurskens, University of Passau
Artificially intelligent systems have become an integral part of our everyday lives. They influence us more than many people realize. Novel machine learning methods, especially multi-layered artificial neural networks, have helped new product categories such as voice assistants, self-driving cars or chatbots to become widespread in recent years. Many companies, but also end users, are not aware that these systems are not free of biases and susceptible to specific manipulation attempts, this is called bias effects. In my lecture, I critically question the hype around Artificial Intelligence (AI) as the savior of a digital and automated society. Based on recent studies, relevant expert statements and a detailed practical example, I illustrate that besides the performance of artificially intelligent systems, other quality characteristics such as robustness against discrimination tendencies and unintentional misbehavior will play an important role.
Speaker: Claudia Pohlink, Telekom Innovation Laboratories
This lecture will be held in German will take place.
Natural Language Processing is a branch of computer science that deals with the automated processing of human language, in text or speech data. Typical tasks include, for example, performing automatic spelling and grammar checking, automatically extracting information from large amounts of data (text mining), or performing linguistic communication with a user (e.g., voice control). Machine learning is often used to efficiently overcome such challenges and to provide the computer with the best possible understanding of human language. What happens when social stereotypes are hidden in language models is what this talk deals with. There will also be a brief background on machine learning and bias in AI systems at the beginning.
Speaker: Prof. Dr. Mascha Kurpicz-Briki, Bern University of Applied Sciences
This lecture will be held in English.
Comprehensive technologisation is changing the many areas of human life. With the use of technology, our understanding of the human being and the body is changing at the same time. How does technology influence how we understand human beings? The lecture puts a special focus on the topic of 'diversity' in technologisation and treats it from an anthropological and ethical perspective.
Where is diversity lacking in technologisation and how can it be promoted? On the one hand, it shows how a lack of diversity represents a challenge in technological processes, and on the other hand, it highlights how technology can also be an opportunity for more diversity. It argues for a more inclusive, relational understanding of people and bodies. In addition to techno-feminist approaches and perspectives on gender and intersectionality, the focus is also on the human-animal-world relationship within the framework of a critique of anthropocentrism. Following critical posthumanism and Donna Haraway's figure of the "cyborg", it is shown that in the course of technological developments, traditional categories such as 'woman'-'man', 'human'-'animal'-'machine' or 'nature'-'culture' become blurred.
Speaker: Anna Puzio, University of Münster, Munich School of Philosophy
This lecture will be held in German.
The lecture will focus on the types of harms brought upon by the development or deployment of narrow AI systems as well as the way those harms are taken into account, both by existing laws and stakeholders (notably businesses). The adopted perspective will mix ethics of AI systems (ethics and philosophy), applied ethics, business and human rights as well as European law.
Speaker: Imane Bello, Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris
This lecture will be held in English.
Discourses around artificial intelligence are closely linked to the projection of ethnic and gender characteristics onto digital technologies. We are familiar with such discourses from classics of AI films as well as from current discourses on assistance systems like Alexa and co., and they also form a central point of reference for feminist theory. Within these discourses, dichotomies such as 'nature vs. culture', 'emotionality vs. rationality', or 'power vs. powerlessness' are on the one hand reproduced in technical contexts, but on the other hand also subverted, which provides opportunities for their cultural renegotiation. Accordingly, the lecture will start with a look at corresponding topoi in AI film, contrast them with poststructuralist theorizing, and on this basis critically discuss the medial interfaces of AI in everyday contexts (work, care, family) as well as their marketing. Special attention will be given to the question of what reflective competence might mean in this context.
Speaker: Dr. Martin Hennig, University of Tübingen
This lecture will be held in German.
At the MINT Women's Network Meeting on January 24, 2022, we will discuss together with Die Juristinnen* and external legal experts, interfaces between legal tech and AI, the influence of AIin the legal industry, and AI and ethics. A special focus will also be on the topic of discrimination by AI, with particular attention to discrimination against women by AI. In addition, we want to talk about possibilities to design a feminist AI and exchange ideas with all participants. You are welcome to send questions to the MINT Women's Network in advance, which we will try to answer during the virtual event.
Registration for participants of the University of Passau via StudIP, external registrations please send to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This lecture will be held in German.
Data-driven technologies are shaping our everyday lives. Big data analytics and artificial intelligence play a key role here. Can algorithms contribute to more fairness or discrimination? And what role does diversity in artificial intelligence play in developing inclusive technologies? Mina Saidze, Forbes 30 under 30 founder of Inclusive Tech, will answer these and other questions as well as present practical examples.
Speaker: Mina Saidze, Founder of Inclusive Tech
Artificial intelligence applications and products are already influencing the everyday lives of millions of people, for example through the use of voice assistants or by making suggestions when shopping online. AI tools and services recommend medical treatments, translate documents into hundreds of languages, decide on loans, make recommendations when recruiting employees, reintegrating the unemployed into the labor market, or make predictions about the recidivism of offenders, to name just a few. Many of these systems aim for greater objectivity than could be expected from human decision makers in the past. Some of these systems do serve their purpose. However, it is now known that several AI systems discriminate or have discriminated in the past against people with dark skin or on the basis of gender, for example.
Often, the problem lies in incorrect or missing training data, inadequate testing, or lack of quality control. A 2019 study by the New York-based AI Now Institute also concludes that the AI industry is facing a diversity crisis. The study worries that AI system developers are unconsciously perpetuating bias. Discrimination against minorities and misogyny are found not only in the composition of developer teams or in the culture of companies, but also in the systems themselves. As an example of misogyny, we look here at voice assistance systems such as Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, and Google's Assistant, in addition to facial recognition software. A Unesco report from 2019 comes to the following conclusion regarding voice assistants: "The association of a female voice with traits such as patience, submissiveness and low-complexity responses may turn them into feminine traits in societal perception. It is also still completely unclear how voice assistants will affect children's understanding of roles and behavior in the long term."
Scientific investigations of AI systems and resulting indications of misinterpretations or problematic decisions by AI systems have already led to some improvements. The proposals of algorithmic decision-making systems are not always comprehensible to those affected. Increasingly, therefore, there are calls for transparency and fairness of the systems. Last but not least, the EU Commission's regulatory proposals also aim in this direction. AI systems themselves cannot distinguish between meaningful and meaningless outcomes, between fair and discriminatory outcomes. They have no consciousness and cannot "think" in a larger social, political or humanitarian context. Therefore, it is not enough to leave the solution of the problems to the tech companies alone. These issues do not only concern the tech industry, governments or NGOs. For AI systems to be used for the good of humanity, the critical voice of every individual, every person whose life AI tools and services affect, is needed.
Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris
Imane Bello is a lawyer at the Paris Bar. She mainly advises on compliance and artificial intelligence (governance, risk management, ethics), human and digital rights as well as digital criminal law and personal data protection. Imane Bello teaches ethics and politics of artificial intelligence systems at the Political Studies Institute of Paris and was named one of the 100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics for 2021.
Prof. Dr. Michael Beurskens
University of Passau
Prof. Dr. Michael Beurskens has held the Chair of Civil Law, German, European and International Business Law at the University of Passau since 2018; in addition to his German qualification as a judge, he also holds a master's degree from the University of Chicago as well as admission to the New York State Bar and a German master's degree in intellectual property law. He has been working for decades, first in Düsseldorf and Bonn and now in Passau, on a wide range of digitalization issues, including from an interdisciplinary perspective. These include not only the currently hotly debated issues of discrimination by the algorithms of large online platforms, but also general requirements for liability, transparency and regulability in self-learning systems and automation. He is the head of the bachelor's program in Legal Tech and offers, among other things, a course in software development for lawyers; he also develops computer applications himself (such as an online exam portal or an e-learning platform) and supports a law firm as off-counsel in specific case constellations from legal application practice.
Dr. Martin Hennig
University of Tübingen
Dr. Martin Hennig is a media cultural scientist. In 2016, he received his PhD with the thesis Spielräume als Weltentwürfe. Cultural semiotics of video games (Marburg: Schüren 2017). In recent years, he worked as a postdoc at the DFG Research Training Group 1681/2 "Privatheit und Digitalisierung" and represented the Chair of Media Cultural Studies (focus: Digital Cultures) at the University of Passau in 2019-2020. Currently, he is a postdoctoral fellow at the International Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities at the University of Tübingen. Current research focus: narratives of digitalization (AI, simulation, surveillance) in fictional and factual media discourses. Areas of work: Digital cultures, narratology, transmedial and serial narrative, media and cultural semiotics, media designs of gender and cultural identity, space and subject theory.
Prof. Dr. Mascha Kurpicz-Briki
Bern University of Applied Sciences
Dr. Mascha Kurpicz-Briki received her PhD in energy-efficient cloud computing from the University of Neuchâtel. After her PhD, she worked for several years in industry in the areas of open source engineering, cloud computing and analytics. Today, she is a professor of data engineering and deputy head of the applied machine intelligence research group at the Bern University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland. She researches how digital methods, and in particular natural language processing, can be applied to social and community challenges.
Prof. Dr. Florian Lemmerich
University of Passau
Prof. Dr. Florian Lemmerich is Professor of Applied Machine Learning at the University of Passau. After receiving his PhD in 2014 from Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, he was a postdoc at GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Cologne in 2015-2017 and then at RWTH Aachen University at the Chair of Computational Social Sciences and Humanities until 2021. His research focuses on the development and application of machine learning methods that address the special requirements of machine learning together with humans and on data from and about humans.
Telekom Innovation Laboratories
With a background in data science, data management as well as innovation management, Claudia Pohlink seamlessly combines business and data science aspects of analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).
Claudia's team at Telekom Innovation Laboratories (T-Labs), Deutsche Telekom's research unit, is driving the adaptation of AI methods such as machine learning (ML) across relevant business areas. The main research focus is the application of quantum computing, both in cybersecurity and around sustainability use cases. As T-Labs established AI as a core innovation area in 2017, Deutsche Telekom's research facility is one of the most active players in AI in Berlin.
Projects from Claudia's previous position in Deutsche Telekom's Chief Data Office include the 'Data Cockpit' (data transparency and data control for end customers) and a 'Portal for Intelligence & Analytics' (internal community for data and AI use cases). Claudia is a member of the Bitkom Board for Artificial Intelligence. She also plays an active role in Berlin's AI/ML and startup community and regularly shares her knowledge as a guest speaker at industry events and as a reviewer at Berlin universities as well as at children's events and at schools. In 2019, she was honored as one of the Global Women Leaders in AI.
University of Münster, Munich School of Philosophy
Anna Puzio is a philosopher, theologian and Germanist at the Munich School of Philosophy and the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster. Her research focuses on the anthropology of technology and ethics of technology. Her dissertation treats the anthropology of transhumanism from a philosophical and interdisciplinary perspective.
Within the anthropology and ethics of technology, she also conducts research on the changing understanding of the human and the body, social ethics, body optimisation and beauty aspirations, human enhancement and medical ethics, critical posthumanism, 'diversity' and the human-animal relationship.
She is a fellow of the Hanns-Seidel-Foundation and founder of "neth:KI", the scientific "Network for Theology and AI".
Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems
Miriam Rateike is a PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen and a research associate at the Chair of Machine Learning of Prof. Isabel Valera at Saarland University. Her research focuses on developing algorithms for fair decision making under realistic assumptions. She is particularly interested in the intersection of causality and fairness.
Founder of Inclusive Tech
Mina Saidze is an award-winning founder, data evangelist and publicist. The business magazine Forbes named her one of the most promising talents of the "30 under 30" in the tech category.
With Inclusive Tech, she founded Europe's first organization for diversity and inclusion in the tech industry. For Europe's largest publishing house Axel Springer, she has already sat on the advisory board for youth in an advisory capacity. She passes on her knowledge of AI ethics and data analytics as a lecturer at the Hamburg Media School and as a Spiegel Fellowship mentor.
Prof. Dr. Gudrun Schiedermeier
Dr Gudrun Schiedermeier studied computer science at the Technical Faculty of Friedrich Alexander University in Erlangen. She received her doctorate there in 1986 at the chair of Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Schneider. She then worked at IBM's European Centre for Network Research in Heidelberg and at IBM in Palo Alto, California. She then worked in Unix system administration, as an IT consultant and as a lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences in Landshut. From 1998 to 2020, she was a professor at the university in Landshut. She last taught software development with Java in the Bachelor's programme and robotics in the Master's programme. Through robotics, she came across the technical possibilities, but also social challenges of AI systems. Since her retirement in autumn 2020, Ms Schiedermeier has been offering seminars on "Ethical aspects of AI - opportunities, limits and challenges for technology, politics and society" in the Studium Generale at Landshut University of Applied Sciences. During her active time, Ms Schiedermeier was a member of the Diversity Steering Group at HAW Landshut. The promotion of young women and girls was a matter of concern to her throughout her career, for which she worked intensively both as the faculty's women's representative, as the university women's representative, as vice-president for teaching and studies and as the state spokesperson for women's representatives (FH).
Lufthansa Industry Solutions
Theresa Tran is a Data Science Consultant at the IT consultancy Lufthansa Industry Solutions. She received Telekom's Women's STEM Award in 2019 for her master's thesis "A Game Theoretical Approach to Explainable Machine Learning". In her spare time, she is committed to getting girls and women excited about the STEM field, including being a dedicated member of Femtec.Alumnae e.V. (FTA for short).
The lecture series is sponsored by Prof. Dr. Christina Hansen, Vice President of the University of Passau.
The interdisciplinary lecture series “Mapping the Margins, Revisited: Intersectionality and American Studies” addresses the topic of intersectionality by surveying individual segments of U.S. literary and cultural history. As a theoretical framework that addresses how aspects of a person’s social and political identities (e.g., gender, race, class, sexuality, religion, ability/disability, age, physical appearance, etc.) can interact, intersectionality concerns the overlapping and simultaneity of different yet interconnected forms of discrimination and privilege against a person.
Police brutality in recent years against people of color in the U.S. (and beyond) serves as just one current and prominent example of structural and systemic discrimination at the intersection of such categories as race, class, and physical appearance. More than thirty years after the term intersectionality was coined by U.S. law professor and civil rights advocate Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw (1989), the concept has gained global currency and widespread transdisciplinary academic appeal. We take this as an occasion and starting point to (re)examine U.S. literary and cultural production across media, genres, text types, and eras.
The lectures take place on Mondays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. via Zoom and are open to anyone interested. All lectures in the lecture series will be held in English.
Prof. Dr. Karsten Fitz, American Studies, University of Passau
Vanessa Vollmann, PhD student, American Studies, University of Passau
Alexandra Hauke, American Studies, University of Passau
Dr. Chelsea Mikael Frazier, Department of Literatures in English, Cornell University
Bettina Huber, American Studies, University of Passau
Dr. Viola Huang, History Education & American Studies, University of Passau
|31.05.2021||Florian Zitzelsberger, American Studies, University of Passau|
"Contesting Realness, or: Drag Race is Burning"
|07.06.2021||Kai Prins, Department of Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin-Madison|
"The Gay-te Keepers at the Fourth Wall: Queering the Borders of the Drag Stage"
Prof. Dr. Alisa Kessel, Department of Politics and Government, University of Puget Sound
|21.06.2021||Prof. Dr. Rebecca Brückmann, History of North America and its Transcultural Context, Ruhr-Universität Bochum|
"Towards an Intersectional History of White Supremacy and the Black Freedom Struggle"
|28.06.2021||Prof. Dr. Karin Stögner, Sociology, University of Passau|
"Intersectionality and Antisemitism - A Critical Approach"
|05.07.2021||Thomas Stelzl (plus Passau team), American Studies, University of Passau|
"Where Are We Today? - Assessing three Decades of Intersectionality Discourse"
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical Hamilton can be viewed as a text that reclaims the framer narrative “for those who were left out” (Romano 2016) as it deconstructed, for the first time, in the eyes of many, in a widely received popular text, the elitist, exceptionalist White male founder narrative. It is surely uncontested that the women of Color framer narrative constitutes one of the narratives that has long been left out. By reading the musical through an intersectional Critical Race Feminist lens, this presentation illustrates how Hamilton deconstructs the Founding Father myth of contemporary America and reclaims it for women by colorbending, genderbending, and genre-bending the narrative through the characters of Eliza Hamilton, Angelica Schuyler, and Maria Reynolds. At the intersections of gender and race, the representation of these characters sheds light on tropes that affect specifically women of Color identities and establishes Eliza’s character as a Republican Mother of Color, a Founding Mother of Color.
Over the past 20 years intersectionality has gathered significance across disciplines. Based on thoughts and critique of black feminists, intersectionality in the late 1980s addressed the combined disadvantage of being both black and female in a concrete juridical context. Since then intersectionality has become a travelling concept and was thus transferred and broadened into an analytical framework, a theoretical and methodological paradigm, and into social action such as society-and work-centered movements or legal and policy advocacy.
Intersectionality as an analytical framework illuminates the social inequalities that arise for and marginalize African American women at the intersection of race, gender, and class. Impoverished black mothers in particular have been excessively stigmatized within the welfare discourse. Prominent example is the powerful narrative of the Welfare Queen, which morally judges and denigrates black mothers and as such serves to justify supervisory and punitive approaches in welfare policies. This presentation scrutinizes the genealogy and history of the long lasting controlling image of the Welfare Queen, which in turn plays a crucial role in how programs commonly termed welfare are perceived and consequently designed.
Grit Grigoleit is principal investigator in the BMBF-funded research project “'Welfare Queens' and 'Losers': eine intersektionale Untersuchung zur Wirkungsweise von Rasse und Geschlecht und deren Reproduktion im US-amerikanischen Wohlfahrtsstaat“. In this project she investigates how the intersection of race, gender, and class structure and determine the U.S. welfare system for generations and thus produce inequalities and different outcomes for racial groups. Prior to this she conducted research on migration and gender issues at the Helmut Schmidt University Hamburg, Hamburg University of Technology as well as at Texas A&M in College Station, Texas.
The history of the United States is replete with violence against underprivileged groups. At the same time, the alleged “discovery of America” has its roots in the domination of lands that became known as “the New World,” allowing settlers to conquer both territory and people at the same time. This became one of the earliest iterations of the interconnectedness between the oppression of the American ecologies and social-cultural-political “Others” that disciplines such as ecofeminism and intersectional environmentalism continue to expose and scrutinize. The Puritan ideologies that developed from this takeover are largely identified with religious discourse that heralded the Biblical Adam as the new “American hero” and Eve’s “primal crime,” which caused the fall of the Garden of Eden, as justification for the alleged insubordination of women as well as yet another reason for interlinking woman and land—both seen as inferior. American narratives of all eras, genres, and media have since negotiated this gendered space wherein the environment is always already identified with female—and thus stereotypically feminine—biologies, ecologies, and behaviors. In this lecture, I will read both classic and contemporary American cultural productions, from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (1850) to Disney’s Moana (2016), across theorizations of ecofeminism and/as intersectional environmentalism to raise awareness of and question the enduring and essentialist interconnected disenfranchisement of subordinated groups (among them women) and nature.
Alexandra Hauke is a lecturer in American Studies at the University of Passau, where her research and teaching focus on ecofeminism, Indigenous studies, folk horror, film studies, and digital cultures. She has written and published on American ecofeminist gothic and horror fiction, law and legal cultures in Native American detective fiction, blackness in horror film, utopian idealism in dystopian literature as well as self-branding on YouTube, and has co-edited essay collections on Native American survivance, 21st-century Canadian literatures and politics as well as the post-truth era in the United States.
The prevailing disciplinary and theoretical frameworks for comprehending black feminist subjectivity and its integral relationship to world/land/territory/earth-ethics are impoverished. We can address this impoverishment by turning to black women cultural producers like author Octavia Butler and visual artist Wangechi Mutu to configure a heteromorphic understanding of the social, political, and physical worlds we currently inhabit.
Through narrative and visual culture, Mutu and Butler articulate political ecologies that move beyond the limited correctives made available through the conventions of Western formal politics. Moreover, I argue that Butler and Mutu disrupt environmental studies frameworks informed by colonial European notions of ‘the political.’ These disruptions allow both visionaries to reconstitute the (un)limits of humanity and construct alternative conceptions of ecological ethics within our present world and beyond it.”
Chelsea Mikael Frazier is a Black feminist ecocritic—writing, researching, and teaching at the intersection of Black feminist theory and environmental thought. As Founder and Chief Creative Officer at Ask An Amazon she designs educational tools, curates community gatherings, gives lectures, and offers consulting services that serve Black Feminist Fuel for Sustainable Futures. She is also a Faculty Fellow in the Cornell University Department of English and in the Fall of 2021 she’ll begin her tenure-track appointment as an Assistant Professor of African American Literature.
Her scholarship, teaching, and public speaking span the fields of Black feminist literature and theory, visual culture, ecocriticism, African art and literature, political theory, science and technology studies, and Afrofuturism.
She is currently at work on her first book manuscript—an ecocritical study of contemporary Black women artists, writers, and activists.
The idealized soldier, strongly connected to the concept of ‘warrior,’ is expected to be a courageous and aggressive white man. In the context of these gender expectations, femininity is often equated with peace and masculinity with war. In this discourse, men are also seen as protectors of women and children, but also of ideas, of traditions, and even of democracy. This trope is frequently used in movies surrounding war experiences.
But more recent cultural productions employing this idealized soldier motive, especially following 9/11, often depict a broken and isolated man unable to reintegrated into civilian life who is hurt – physically and/or mentally. In this presentation, I will examine the use of these tropes in selected action and war movies and give tentative conclusions regarding the possibilities and limits of these representations for the cultural understanding of trauma and white masculinity.
Bettina Huber finished her M.A. in American Studies at the University of Regensburg in 2017 and is currently teaching American Studies at the University of Passau. Her research focuses on the negotiations of identities and the challenges of perpetrator traumas in life narratives of U.S. soldiers. Her research interests include gender studies, trauma studies, life narrative studies, and the U.S. military. Her articles, focused on gender studies and life narrative studies, have been published, among others, in the Journal New Horizons in English Studies and in the COPAS Journal.
On May 3, 1967, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was mentioned for the first time in the New York Times with the headline “Armed Negroes Protest Gun Bill”. Only two years later, in 1969, former F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover labeled the Panthers the “greatest threat to internal security of the country”. Within public spheres Black Power activists have been portrayed as beret-wearing, gun-swinging, violent, nationalist, masculine, urban militants and radicals in the North.
This lecture will provide a more complex picture of the Black Power Movement, emphasizing the history of the movement’s intersectional politics. The lecture will discuss Black Power’s contributions to equal education, employment, and housing; highlight the movement’s interracial programs and collaborations as well as emphasize the important roles of Black women in the movement, thus challenging the idea that the movement was entirely male-dominated.
Viola Huang is a research associate in the Department of History Education as well as American Studies at the University of Passau in Germany. She holds a Ph.D. in History and Education from Columbia University in New York City. Her research focuses on 20th century African-American history, specifically the history of social movements, community activism, and alternative and transformative education. As part of the interdisciplinary project SKILL.de (Strategien zur Kompetenzentwicklung: Innovative Lehrformate in der Lehrkräftebildung, digitally enhanced), her teaching addresses questions of historiography, memory, and (counter) public history.
This lecture addresses the concept of realness in drag performance and its history in ball culture to ask how real the notion of realness can be in times when drag seems to have made it in the cultural mainstream. By situating RuPaul’s Drag Race in the “great tradition” of the 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning (as promoted by RuPaul himself), I discuss the representational politics that render both examples unreal. While realness can be understood as a disidentification with the queer-of-color self, the embodiment of hegemonic norms, with the aim to secure survival within a majoritarian (racist, transmisogynistic, etc.) society, both Paris Is Burning and Drag Race deviate from this idea by producing narratives that foreclose possibility because they follow pre-determined paths. Realness, if presented through the filter of a genre that is inevitably constructed—despite a certain claim to authenticity of both reality TV and documentaries—, becomes something other than real. Once the queer-of-color self or the drag artist become a storytelling device, I argue, they are implicated in a narrative trajectory that cannot escape a (hetero)normative framing. Recognition thus comes at a cost, and my task in this lecture will be to mediate between the queer utopian becomings implied in the very promise of recognition and teleological narrative models that bind individuals to stories of progression/success or regression/failure.
Florian Zitzelsberger is a PhD candidate at the University of Passau whose research primarily focuses on queer theory and narratology, performance studies, and musicals on stage and screen. He is interested in the peripheries of drag culture and currently studies performance in the context of posthumanism and death. Recent publications include articles on metalepsis, queer desire, and failure. As part of the interdisciplinary project SKILL.de (Strategien zur Kompetenzentwicklung: Innovative Lehrformate in der Lehrkräftebildung, digitally enhanced), his teaching addresses questions of canonization, representation, and literacy in the digital age.
Borders are more than physical sites of separation between nation and state: borders are also discursive sites at and through which we identify belonging. In this lecture, I examine a metaphorical border and its exclusionary implications: the fourth wall on the drag stage. Despite the marginal advances of trans and non-binary drag queens on recent seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the drag stage largely represents a space of “homonormative hegemony”: only queer people whose performances of drag are intelligible and nonthreatening to mainstream audiences are given a stage. Drag kings are described by drag queens and academics alike as threatening or boring and are routinely denied entrance onto mainstream stages. Using contextual rhetorical analysis of contemporary moments of drag king visibility in mainstream drag, I explore how the mainstream drag stage becomes a space for cisgender male drag queens to enact and enforce homonormativity. I situate my analysis on the metaphorical border of the theatrical fourth wall to demonstrate how reading the drag stage as a space to enact citizenship and drag queen performance as a signifier of belonging opens the door to understanding how homonormativity operates, as it envelops queer bodies in normative, neoliberal values and narratives and norms queer spaces.
Kai Prins is a graduate student in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where s/he studies rhetoric at the intersections of gender, bodies, and performance. Kai is also the award-winning drag king and burlesque performer known as Will X. Uly (pronounced “Will Actually”).
When the Supreme Court of the United States declared racial segregation in public schools as unconstitutional in its 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, segregationists across the South formed a counter-movement that came to be known by its self-designation as “Massive Resistance.” Segregationist politicians as well as grassroots agitators attacked Black Freedom activists from a variety of hostile positions. Whereas Massive Resistance’s masculinist rhetoric and the concomitant ideal of (white) Southern Womanhood has previously led to a focus on hegemonic masculinity in the movement’s historiography, white women played a vital role. This lecture will provide an intersectional analysis of white supremacist women’s activism in the 1950s and 1960s South. It will examine the entwinements of gender, race, differential social backgrounds, motivations, and forms of action, thereby highlighting the importance of multi-dimensional analyses of power in the history of the Black Freedom Struggle and white supremacist resistance.
Rebecca Brückmann is an assistant professor of North American history in its transcultural context at Ruhr-University Bochum. She completed her Ph.D. in modern history at the Graduate School of North American Studies at Freie Universität Berlin in 2014 and taught at the Universities of Cologne and Kassel. Her research focuses on North American sociocultural and spatial history, including Black history and Southern history, the history of white supremacy, and gender history. Her recent publications include articles in the South Carolina Historical Magazine, the European Journal of American Studies, and the monograph Massive Resistance and Southern Womanhood: White Women, Class, and Segregation (University of Georgia Press, 2021).
In the social sciences, intersectionality is used as a methodological tool to investigate the multidimensionality of power relations. Coined in the 1980s by theorists of Black Feminism to analytically grasp and criticise the specific forms of multiple discrimination of women of colour, the concept has experienced an unparalleled upswing in recent years and has been applied to a multitude of other cases of discrimination. However, it is striking that global antisemitism is only rarely included in intersectional theory, and Jews are often excluded from feminist anti-racist social movements that claim to be guided by intersectionality. Jews are rarely mentioned as a minority with special interests that need to be protected and promoted; rather, they tend to be regarded as representatives of Whiteness that is under critique. This poses the question: why does the intersectionality framework routinely exclude antisemitism? In this presentation I will first contrast antisemitism and racism, before showing that antisemitism research and intersectionality need not necessarily exclude each other. I will go on to develop a specific approach to intersectionality that views ideologies in relation to each other and reads antisemitism itself as an intersectional ideology.
Karin Stögner is Professor of Sociology at the University of Passau, co-ordinator of the Research Network on Racism and Antisemitism in the European Sociological Association and co-founder and speaker of the Working Group Antisemitism in the German Sociological Association. Previously she did research at the University of Vienna, Lancaster University, Georgetown University, Goethe University Frankfurt and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research focuses on the critical theory and feminism as well as on the interrelation of antisemitism, sexism and nationalism.
The lecture series is sponsored by the university women's representative Prof. Dr. Andrea Sieber.