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Afro look: Die Geschichte einer zeitschrift von schwarzen Deutschen

Francine Jobatey, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation examines the first ten years in the publication of a literary and cultural magazine by and about Black Germans and Blacks living in Germany: afro look. The dissertation demonstrates that, in trying to develop a discourse to position themselves within German society, Black Germans are faced with a linguistic gap: they can not easily build upon the discourse advanced in race studies because the very notion of race has been discredited in Germany. My analysis of afro look shows that, with the emergence of a strong Black consciousness, Black Germans are developing new terminologies to depict and analyze their experience. An increasing number of Black Germans now refer to themselves as Blacks or Afro-Germans . The term Black may denote ethnic origin, and/or occasionally represent a political statement as well. The hyphenated identity Afro-German affirms a unique linkage with a Black and German heritage. In chapter two I present an introductory overview delineating the history of Blacks in Germany. This places the history of afro look in a wider context. Chapter three examines how Black Germans, in their search for a Black identity, are simultaneously developing a stronger Black community. In this effort, linguistic visibility proves crucial in building a self-determined social identity. Chapter four investigates the role of Black (and white) women within the context of afro look. To a great extent, Black women position themselves outside traditional western feminist discourse. Chapter five examines how Black Germans express their unique experiences in poetic form. Poetry gives these authors immediate access to their inner feelings: they make strong statements about Black German identity and the interconnectedness between ethnic and personal identities. This dissertation affirms that independent subjecthood can only be achieved after individuals have developed the ability to perform actions outside the discursive parameters constructed for them by society. Black Germans' hyphenated background places them both inside and outside the racial paradigm. Afro look proves its uniqueness, in having provided—for more than a decade—one independently minded forum that documents the continuing formation of Black German identity.

Subject Area

German literature|Ethnic studies|Black studies|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Jobatey, Francine, "Afro look: Die Geschichte einer zeitschrift von schwarzen Deutschen" (2000). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9978512.