As feminist German Studies scholars in North America, we live and work on Indigenous land that has been and continues to be shaped by processes of colonization. In addition, working in post-secondary institutions in an inherently Eurocentric discipline like German Studies prompts us to reflect on and come to terms with our role in the continued reproduction of oppressive systems that exclude Indigenous students, and that are built upon and prioritize Western/European ways of knowing.
All of the above gains even more importance because the German infatuation with the Indigenous peoples of North America is such that it even led to its own term, “Indianthusiasm,” defined by Hartmut Lutz as “a yearning for all things Indian” that is essentialist, racialized, historicized, and primarily concerned with an imaginary past (Lutz 2002). Problematically, such an infatuation, which finds expression in everything from hobbyist “Indian Weeks” to the seemingly never-ending fascination with the works of authors like Karl May, precludes Indigenous peoples’ present-day experiences.
One important step in mapping out the intersections and potential affinities between Indigenous Studies and German Studies is the publication of the November 2019 issue “Indigenous and German Studies” of Seminar – A Journal of Germanic Studies. In their introduction, the editors of the special volume, Renae Watchman, Carrie Smith and Markus Stock, explore the possibilities of “building transdisciplinary relationships” (309), while Bradley Boovey and Natchee Blu Barnd, in their contribution, suggest thinking about such relationships in terms of “a relational framework based on the notions of affinities” highlighting similar “critical epistemological frameworks and transformative pedagogical approaches” (329).
The purpose of this panel is to go beyond “Indianthusiasm” by rejecting its centrality at the intersection of Indigenous Studies and German Studies. As we continue to do the work of decolonization and reconciliation, can we imagine a present and future engagement between German Studies and Indigenous Studies? What does this look like? Keenly aware of the dangers of the appropriation and commodification of Indigenous knowledges as well as the dangers of objectifying Indigenous peoples, this panel explores the possible meaningful ways that Indigenous and Feminist German Studies can be in dialogue. As this interdisciplinary conversation continues to develop out of analyses of representation in the arts, we call for more theoretical, methodological, as well as transdisciplinary approaches to the topic. Possible avenues of inquiry could include but are not limited to:
*How, if at all, are Indigenous peoples represented in contemporary texts by German female/queer/feminist authors? If so, do these authors find ways to go beyond the tokenization and anachronistic fixation of Indigenous peoples?
*What efforts are currently underway to Indigenize post-secondary curricula? What are the pedagogical and methodological implications of current efforts to Indigenize post-secondary German Studies?
*How can intersections between feminist and Indigenous methodologies be delineated and what are reciprocal benefits of transdisciplinary encounters?
*What are potential contributions of Feminist German Studies to the project of de-colonizing and Indigenizing the curriculum?
*What theoretical implications does this constellation of German, Indigenous, and Feminist studies generate in the different contexts of US and Canadian academia?
Please send a 250-350-word abstract to all three panel organizers, Emily Frazier-Rath (firstname.lastname@example.org), Lars Richter(email@example.com), and Wendy Timmons (firstname.lastname@example.org) by February 15, 2020.
Panel participants must be WiG members at the time of the conference. To find out how to become a WiG member, please visit http://www.womeningerman.org/membership/.
In addition, we encourage panel panelists to join the WiG listserv; more information about the listserv can be found at http://www.womeningerman.org/wig-email-list/.