CFP: Diversity Roundtable Symposium, “Moving toward collective action: activism and academia”

Kiel University and Zoom
May 14-15, 2022
Stichtag: 31.01.2022

Over the past few years, the German Association for American Studies has been
devoting public forums to engaging issues of diversity. A particularly important event
of the past two years was the previous Diversity-Roundtable co-speaker team’s 2020
workshop, “The GAAS in 2030: Imagining Practices of Critical Diversity in American
Studies.” At this workshop, keynote roundtable speakers Christine Vogt-William and
Courtney Moffett-Bateau, along with their moderator, Anne Potjans, discussed
numerous methods for practitioners of American Studies to effect material change.
These methods included actively listening to the requests and demands of Black,
Indigenous, and other People of Color; actively recruiting Black, Indigenous, and
other People of Color for sustained and sustainable academic employment; and
adjusting our understandings of excellence to account for profound socioeconomic
and epistemological hierarchies in scholars’ profiles, particularly when it comes to
hiring practices.

This symposium is designed to continue this conversation and sustain a climate of
change. We are particularly interested in continuing to radically imagine more
ethical academic environments, including in American Studies in Germany. With
this context in mind, we invite panel and paper proposals that continue to imagine
modes of collective action.

We are especially interested in engaging questions such as the following:

What is the history of academic exclusion in Germany, particularly on the
basis of race, ethnicity, class, and ability?
What impact has collective action had in response to historical exclusion in
North America, Germany, and elsewhere, and how might we learn from this
history in order to respond to ongoing exclusions now?
How, for instance, has political movement against anti-Black racism, hetero-
and cis-normativity, and ableism already impacted our universities and
curricula? Where do mechanisms of exclusion persist?
How is the rhetoric about race and the recent debate about Critical Race
Theory in the US relevant to our work in Germany as researchers, instructors,
and intellectuals? What might be the benefit or consequence of drawing
parallels to, for instance, German discourses of “Wissenschaftsfreiheit”?
How have discourses of “objectivity” or fears of politicization historically been
used to exclude diverse voices from academia?
How might discourses associated with American Studies assist us in
accounting for racial and class-based exclusions in Germany, including
specific structural formations of German anti-Blackness; anti-Asian racism
during and prior to the pandemic; anti-Semitism; and the exclusion or
marginalization of Eastern Europeans and Gastarbeiter, or migrant workers,
and their descendants, among others? How might universities and their
employees lead this charge?
How might we harness the institutional power of our organization and/or
universities to participate in existing collective movement?
What pedagogical/educational strategies can we use in the classroom when we
teach American Studies, such as in literature, cultural/media studies, political
science, and/or history, to advocate for diversity and material change?
How do the material and structural conditions of German academia, which
have come up in movements such as #IchBinHanna obstruct the creation of a
more diverse university?

In other words, the organizers of this symposium are keen to continue gathering
material methods for the humanities and American Studies to indicate their
investment in diversity, without simply advocating diversity as “ornamental
multiculturalism” (Lugones/Price 1995) or “lip service” (Ahmed 2012). We are
especially interested in moving away from individual discussions of marginalization
and instead moving toward pedagogical and collective efforts for material change.

We welcome proposals for individual papers (20 mins), panels, and other formats,
such as roundtable discussions or other creative approaches. Individuals interested
in submitting a paper proposal or other individually undertaken creative approach
are invited to submit an abstract of 250 words and a short bio. If you are interested
in submitting a panel/roundtable/or other collective effort, please provide an
abstract of 250 words for the format as a whole, including paper titles (as relevant)
and short biographies for each of the participants.

Proposals are due by January 31, 2022 to DR-cospeakers Abby Fagan (, Dorothee Marx ( and Chang Liu ( Notifications of acceptance will be distributed by February 15.

Works cited:
Ahmed, Sara. On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life.
Durham: Duke University Press, 2012.
Arghavan, Mahmoud, Nicole Hirschfelder, Luvena Kopp, and Katharina Motyl, eds.
Who Can Speak and Who Is Heard/Hurt? Bielefeld: Transcript, 2019.
Khasnabish, Alex. “Ecologies of the radical imagination.” Information,
Communication, and Society (2019), pp. 1-10.
Lugones, María and Joshua Price, “Dominant Culture: El Deseo por un Alma Pobre
(The Desire for an Impoverished Soul).” In Multiculturalism from the Margins:
Non-Dominant Voices on Difference and Diversity, edited by Dean Harris.
Westport, CT: Bergin and Garvey, 1995.