Peer Reviewed Journal Articles / Chapters
“Christa Wolf’s Trouble with Race.” Christa Wolf. Companions to German Culture. DeGruyter. Forthcoming.
Approaching Wolf’s oeuvre from a perspective informed by critical ethnic studies and its multivalent critiques of whiteness enables an approach to Wolf that can re-situate her many contributions to post-1945 German literature within the postwar trouble with race. Wolf’s earlier work engages with antisemitism and Eurocentrism in ways that continually lead Wolf’s narrators back to a discussion of shared humanity while prohibiting explicit engagement with racism. Wolf’s trouble with race in Stadt der Engel, alternatively, becomes a more extensive troubling of race: a complex, incomplete revelation of the entanglements of race at the heart of that considered to be ‘Western civilization.’
“The German Refugee “Crisis” after Cologne: The Race of Refugee Rights.” English Language Notes, vol. 54, no. 2, Fall/Winter 2016, pp. 77-92.
The paradox of rights and racism, whereby human rights are re-racialized even as racism is rejected, reveals the deeply gendered workings of whiteness. Whiteness works as a social structure and a set of somatic norms that allows some bodies to be more at home in the world than others, and some bodies to move in the world more easily than others. The debates about Cologne
construed the safe movement of white women as threatened and failed to acknowledge the constraints on North Africans’ movement to and in Germany, while heralding forms of surveillance and policing that often target racialized others. The debates about the violence in Cologne further suggest that where we do not attend carefully to the circulation of racist structures and discourses, or the importance of human security to understandings of human rights, whiteness is easily reinscribed in projects for a more just world.
“Whiteness, WiG, and Talking about Race.” Women in German Yearbook: Feminist Studies in German Literature & Culture, vol. 32, no. 1, 2016, pp. 189–202.
This article revisits ways in which white feminist German studies scholars are implicated in the circulation of and replication of whiteness. It begins with an exploration of the problems of notions of “inclusion,” even as diversity work remains important. Problems that frequently emerge in conversations about whiteness, race, and diversity are then considered. The article concludes with a brief reflection on how whiteness emerges in research on the reactions to reports of widespread sexualized violence on New Year’s Eve in Cologne.
“’We Must Talk about Cologne’: Race, Gender, and Reconfigurations of ‘Europe.’” German Politics and Society. 34.4 (Winter 2016): 68–86.
The perceived crisis triggered by the current refugee influx highlights the contradiction at the heart of human rights discourse. Modern humanity has been constructed as both European and as universal; the racialized “Other” against whom the “modern human” disturbs this construction by laying claim to human rights from the very heart of Europe. The sexualized violence reported in Cologne on New Year’s Eve fed into racialized fears of refugees and immigrants promoted by groups on the radical right, even as racialized fears returned to mainstream discourses. Critical responses to the racism of the radical right unfortunately also participate in racialized discourses by resorting to “Europe” or “European values.” This analysis suggests the need to consider Europe as a field of power, one in which the contestation over what Europe is or should be results in concrete, racialized disparities in access to social mobility, education, or public agency. A project for racial, gender and economic justice requires the thinking of Europe as an ongoing project of world-making. The call to revisit or reclaim “European” values cannot succeed here. Nor can a response to the new right (or the newly normalized racism of the center) allow the new right to determine the parameters of debates about possibilities for the future.
“Kübra Gümü?ay, Muslim Digital Feminism and the Politics of Visuality in Germany.” Feminist Media Studies 15.1 (2016): 101 – 116.
Muslim women’s digital activism exists in complexly racialized visual contexts. This is exemplified in the journalism and activism of Kübra Gümü?ay, who first gained public attention as the purportedly first “hijabi columnist” in Germany. This essay draws on her series “50 Thoughts” as an entry point into her digital activism. I suggest that Gümü?ay uses this series to reveal the larger visual dilemmas with which she engages. Her digital activism functions by taking the risk to both expose and reconfigure the very conditions under which she is visible and comprehensible to her publics. In particular, I consider her activism as using digital spaces for self-poiesis (an imaginative remaking of self) as well as teleopoiesis (an imaginative reaching out to the other). This latter move functions both to gesture to an anti-racist community as well as to alliances among multiple feminisms.
This article examines the precarious intimacies of Tawada’s work as imaginative ways of making legible racializations in Europe as rooted in the violence of Europe’s ongoing creation and definition, and as refracted through interpersonal intimacies. Those relationships reveal the complex, shifting racialized formations of Otherness attached to constructions of “Asia” and “Africa” in order to define “Europe”. Tawada’s work may, then, be read as also offering up a path to comparison by pointing to the asymmetries of comparison, by demonstrating the need to radically contextualize comparison, and by implicitly cautioning against stabilizing, reifying or essentializing points of comparison.
Tropes of freedom, secularism, and human rights dominate in discussions about Islam in Europe today. These tropes in turn are often expressed as connected to the emancipation of Muslim women—freedom as Muslim women’s freedom from intimate and family violence; secularism as a rejection of symbols of Islam, often women’s dress, in public space; and the importance of women’s rights as human rights.
Despite the recent wave of scholarship on intersectionality, as well as a surge in feminist scholarship on Islam in German feminist studies, feminist research has yet to adequately engage with the role of religion in intersectionality. In this article the author draws on the work of the Aktionsbündnis muslimischer Frauen in Germany to explore the possibility for incorporating religion and faith into intersectional frameworks, which requires attention to women of color theorizing in German feminisms, recognition of ways in which religions and forms of secularism have been racialized, and recognition of affective attachment to faith.
The celebrations of the “multicultural” German national soccer team for the 2010 World Cup and the subsequent declaration of the failure of German multiculturalism reveal complex constructions of national belonging and of postnational identity constructions, and affective ties to the idea of Europe in twenty-first century Germany. Within what appears to be an enthusiastic celebration of a multicultural German team, we uncover a set of converging emotions about what Germany and Europe stand for and what they could or should embody. Such contradictory discourses provide a fundamental tension that defines “feeling Germany” and “feeling Europe” in the first part of the twenty-first century.
This article examines the discourses of forced prostitution that circulated in theUS and European media and government publications in the context of the soccerWorld Cup in 2006. This analysis of the public discourse around prostitution revealstwo themes: concerns about immigration and border security, and representationsof gender binaries that serve to relegate migrant women to the status of victim.The fears of increased sex trafficking and the condemnation of so-called ‘sex shacks’and ‘mega-brothels’ for the World Cup 2006 served as foils for other perceived crisesproduced by globalisation. The debates struggle with a marked ‘other’ that revealsnew forms of racialised ‘othering’: dangerously white, understood as both of Europe and a threat to it. The 2006 World Cup historical moment has implications for howinternational sports, consumer culture and feminist activism inform and conceal human agency.
Fereshta Ludin’s struggle to be appointed as a public school teacher while wearing ahijab received massive media attention in Germany, while the xenophobically motivated murder of Marwa el-Sherbini, who was eventually dubbed the “hijab martyr” internationally, elicited muted response. Yet interpreting the reactions to these two cases together reveals much about the existence of racism and Islamophobia in contemporary Germany. In this article I juxtapose the public discussions of these two cases to consider the potential for a critique of headscarf discourse. I suggest that interrogation of headscarf discourse is only possible by turning the very notion of critique against itself in order to interrogate the conditions of secularism.
Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s work reveals and challenges two dominant images of the immigrant woman in circulation in Germany. When she superimposes the images of the headscarf and the cleaning woman, she reveals the often hidden intersections of representations of the veiled immigrant woman and her role in the German service industry. As ‘the Other’ within Germany, the Muslim woman’s veiled body constructs emancipated, democratic Germanness while effectively obscuring the role immigrant women’s labour has played in Germany’s globalised economy. This production of Germanness participates in a peculiar biopolitics that limits the terrain on which immigrant women, particularly Muslim immigrant women, can participate in German culture. In this essay I briefly sketch out one of the dominant discourses within which immigrant women have been represented in Germany. I then consider a novel by the Turkish German author Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Die Brücke vom Goldenen Horn (1998), in order to consider how her narrative of a ‘sexual’ coming of age also becomes a narrative that reveals and resists those discursive boundaries that circumscribe Muslim woman’s femininity and the possibility for ‘Islam in Germany’.
“Freedom from Violence, Freedom to Make the World: Muslim Women’s Memoirs, Gendered Violence, and Voices for Change in Germany.” Women in German Yearbook. Eds. Katharina Gerstenberger and Patricia Anne Simpson. Vol. 25. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009. 199-222.
In recent years several bestselling autobiographies in Germany have reinforced a discourse in which domestic violence in immigrant communities is attributed to a backward, Muslim culture. The media as well as the German state turn to authors such as Necla Kelek and Seyran Ate? as “experts” who claim the right to represent immigrant women’s concerns, but their prominence obscures activists’ attempt to end both domestic violence and forms of cultural racism. This article contextualizes these autobiographies in a larger discourse of modernity that presumes secularism serves to regulate violence. I then analyze the discursive strategies employed by Kelek and Ate?, and juxtapose their narratives with Fadela Amara’s description of the French group Ni Putes ni Soumises (Neither Whores nor Submissives). I argue that the popularity of narratives portraying violence against women as necessarily and intrinsically a part of Islam functions to silence many activists of immigrant heritage, preventing effective activism against violence as well as productive alliances between groups fighting violence in multiple forms.
“Beyond the Culture Trap: Teleopoeisis, Immigrant Women and New Subjectivities.” Women in German Yearbook. Vol. 21. Eds. Helga Kraft and Marjorie Gelus. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005. 16 – 38.
Drawing on transnational feminist cultural studies and Gayatri Spivak’s notion of “planet-talk,” this article reconsiders the questions posed to textual figures of immigrant and minority women. Assumptions of Western cultural superiority have limited the focus of scholarship addressing immigrant women’s economic and political positionings in Germany. Scholars must work to imagine a wider range of possibilities for immigrant women’s participations in life in Germany, particularly in relationship to economic and political subjectivities, in order to better enable scholarship analyzing the intensely gendered processes of globalization.
“Cloth on Her Head, Constitution in Hand: Germany’s Headscarf Debates and the Cultural Politics of Difference.” German Politics and Society, 22.3 (2004): 33 – 63. “A Literature of Theory: Christa Wolf’s Kassandra Lectures as Feminist Anti-Poetics.” German Quarterly 74.3 (2001): 259-279. Co-authored with Thomas Beebee.
Violence and Gender in the ‘New Europe’: Islam in Germany Today
Images of covered women, together with stories of honor killings and forced marriages, continue to retain their currency in media representations of Islam.
Moving beyond staid stereotypes, Gender and Violence in the “New” Europe draws new conclusions about the role of violence in determining Muslim women’s participation in German public life. Combining cultural studies with theory, Beverly Weber contributes to the ongoing scholarly discussion about Islam in the West in two key ways. First, she demonstrates how current thinking about gender violence prohibits the intellectual inquiry necessary to act against a range of forms of violence. Secondly, she analyzes ways in which Muslim women participate in the public sphere by thematizing violence in literature, art, and popular media. By examining how violence is imagined, portrayed, and challenged, this timely book provides new strategies for action.