Rethinking Memory and Knowledge during Times of Crisis

15.09.2020, Panel Series, online

Part 1 of Virtual Panel Series Racism in History and Context at 12pm EDT (9am PDT & 6pm CEST) | Panelists: Ana Lucia Araujo (Howard University), Manuela Bauche (FU Berlin), Norbert Frei (Universität Jena), and Michael Rothberg (UCLA) | Moderators: Akasemi Newsome (UC Berkeley) and Francisco Bethencourt (King’s College London)

Racism in History and Context is a virtual panel series presented by the German Historical Association, the German Historical Institute Washington and its Pacific Regional Office, and the Institute of European Studies at University of California, Berkeley

The Black Lives Matter protest movement and the accompanying e¬¬fforts to topple monuments to colonialism and slavery on both sides of the Atlantic have put the issue of racism back on the agenda in the United States, Germany, and beyond. Much of the public debate invokes racism as a shorthand for long and complex histories of inequality and oppression that resurface, rather than originate, in our momentous present.

These current movements and debates have unfolded in tandem with the global coronavirus pandemic. While the current health crisis has intensified and exposed deep-seated social and cultural fractures in modern societies, deadly world-threatening epidemics that recur in waves are a historical phenomenon that have existed throughout history. Some of them, such as the bubonic plague, or Black Death, that emerged and raged in the mid-14th century and reappeared regularly up into the early twentieth century, became a permanent part of cultural memory precisely because they initiated revolutionary political and social processes and changed societies significantly.

The German Historical Association (Verband der Historiker und Historikerinnen Deutschlands e.V., VHD), the German Historical Institute Washington with its Pacific Regional Office, and the Institute of European Studies at University of California, Berkeley, have invited scholars from the United States and Europe to explore recent assertions of historical understandings of racism by scrutinizing how current debates construct and represent this history in a two-part virtual panel series this fall. What and who defines the deeper and historically longer-term contexts of the present-day phenomenon? How do the various discourses and memories of racist violence differ in quite diverse national contexts and narratives, and what interdependencies can we discern? How do social and cultural tensions take form under the pressure of condemning racism in moments and historical narratives of crises?

On September 15, the panel will focus on conflicting memory cultures to shed light on  narratives and practices of racist inequality which gained particular relevance as a framework for understanding the consequences of the current epidemic. The second panel on October 29 will discuss protest movements, state power, and violence. The panels will be held in English via Zoom. The audience will have the chance to ask questions via chat.

For further information and registration click here.