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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Germanic Languages & Literatures

Year Degree Awarded

2017

Month Degree Awarded

May

First Advisor

Sara Lennox

Second Advisor

Sky Arndt-Briggs

Third Advisor

Sara Jackson

Fourth Advisor

TreaAndrea Russworm

Subject Categories

German Language and Literature | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Performance Studies | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies

Abstract

The first investigation of Afro-German theater my dissertation, “The Drama of Race,” argues that Afro-German theater empowers as Black actors take ownership of a German stage, a white German space. My dissertation highlights four crucial Afro-German plays: real life: Germany (2008), Heimat, bittersüße Heimat [Home, bittersweet Home] (2010), Also by Mail (2013), and Mais in Deutschland und anderen Galaxien [Corn in Germany and Other Galaxies] (2015). In Chapter I, I discuss the cultural conditions in which Afro-German theater emerged—after an established literary corpus by Afro-German authors. Chapter II introduces the first Afro-German play and its improvisational methods as empowering for the teenage actors instead of an audience. I analyze the usage of Augusto Boal’s educational theater and the inclusion of African diasporic authors like bell hooks and Sojourner Truth. My analysis in Chapter III builds on the usage of “diasporic resources” (Jacqueline Nassy Brown) to describe the Alltag [daily life] of many Black people in Germany and redefine traditional notions of Heimat [home]. Chapter IV reflects on a two-act family drama that utilizes the African diaspora to make allusions to literature, politics, and mythology. Chapter V examines a mother-son relationship. East Germany imprisons the mother who desires individuality in the communist state, and the Afro-East German son fails to establish meaningful relationships but is able to reconcile the mother-son relationship in outer space. Afro-German theater forges connections across boundaries to the diaspora, pushes national boundaries to put them into question, and creates a space for Black Germans in German society.

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