Charlotte Szilagyi, Sabrina K. Rahman and Michael Saman (eds.):

Imagining Blackness in Germany and AustriaNewcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars 2012, 193 pages.

ISBN 978-1-4438-4399-7

Imagining Blackness in Germany and Austria offers a breadth of fresh and provocative perspectives on the ways that blackness has been configured and instrumentalized in cultural productions from around the modern German-speaking world. The essays collected here examine material ranging from eighteenth-century literary and philosophical landmarks, to Viennese modernist art; from colonial missionary literature, to twentieth-century sculpture, film, and music; from National Socialist ideology, to Leftist counterdiscourse.

Spanning a range of literary, visual, and theoretical discourses, these essays identify crucial moments within radical paradigm shifts in the ways the concept of blackness has been employed by European intellectuals. One shift can be observed within the notion of blackness itself, which progresses from a state that precedes political articulation, to one that is negotiated discursively. Another shift sees conservative notions of "race" give way to a recodification of blackness as American rather than African. In this way, blackness becomes linked to the advent of a hegemonic power. A further shift can be discerned in the ways nationalist discourses of colonial supremacy and of an impending "darkening" of Europe progress toward the perception of blackness as an entry-point into the cultural complex known as Amerika, into mass culture, and into European modernity itself.

With an introduction by Werner Sollors, this collection provides valuable, compelling, and timely material and insight for scholars and students interested in modern German-speaking culture, African American and African Diaspora studies, and their intersections.

Titel beim Verlag

Printed with the support of the IFK International Research Center for Cultural Studies.



List of Illustrations, p. vii.

Acknowledgments, p. viii-xi.

Werner Sollors: Introduction, p. 1-5.

Ingo Zechner: »White Negro« and »Negro White«: Fassbinder, Sirk, Vian, p. 9-28.

Klaus Müller-Richter, Daniela Schmeiser: On the Metadiscursive Function of the »Alien«: Negotiations between Heinrich von Kleist, Zygmunt Bauman, and Bernhard von Waldenfels, p. 29-41.

Siegfried Mattl: Hugo Bettauer’s Blue Stain: American Blackness in the Viennese Mode, p. 43-56.

Cindy Patey Brewer: »Wie kann man Neger weiß waschen?«: Representations of the Black Child in German Missionary Literature for Youth and Children 1900-1920, p. 59-87.

Werner Michael Schwarz: Roberto Rossellini’s Paisan: »Blackness« in Postwar European Cinema, p. 89-98.

Wolfgang Fichna: »The Passage Begins«: Black Bodies and Americanism in Ernst Krenek’s  Modern Opera Jonny Strikes Up, p. 99-109.

Georg Vasold: Gerhard Marcks Visits New York, or The Negro Trumpeter, p. 113-133.

Gesa Frömming: From »Negro Slave« to »Slave of Capital«: Iconographic Representations of Black Americans by the Weimar Left, p. 135-163.

Chad Denton: Leni Riefenstahl’s Staging of the Black Body in Olympia, p. 165-189.

Contributers, p. 191-193.



"Ranging across literature, art, theatre and film, these essays present a nuanced exploration of German representations of blackness. Refracting both familiar and unfamiliar material through different lenses, the book creates an exciting kaleidoscope that is sure to spark new ideas in its readers. Kudos to the editors for identifying the need for this volume, and to the contributors for the imagination and verve with which they approach the subject!"

—Judith L. Ryan, Robert K. and Dale J. Weary Professor of German and Comparative Literature, Harvard University

"This wide-ranging volume provides compelling new approaches to race as a category of social analysis in studies of German and Austrian culture. Examining genres as diverse as film, opera, canonical and popular novels, sculpture, woodcuts, collage, and missionary literature for children, the essays collected here reveal both continuities and ruptures in representations of blackness from the eighteenth century to the present as cultural producers addressed changing historical, political, and aesthetic needs. Imagining Blackness in Germany and Austria makes a valuable and imaginative contribution to a growing area of scholarship that is fast transforming the field of German cultural studies."

—Sara Lennox, Professor of German and Scandinavian Studies and Director in Social Thought and Political Economy, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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