Intimate Histories: African Americans and Germany since 1933
Dissertation in History
First supervisor: Prof. Jessica Gienow-Hecht
Second supervisor: Prof. Sebastian Conrad
Third supervisor: Prof. Dagmar Herzo
This project unravels the Intimate Histories of African Americans and Germany between c. 1933 and 1990. Its point of departure are interpersonal constellations that crossed not only the Atlantic but the color line – and at times, the fault lines of the Cold War. Tracing such topics as anti-miscegenation laws, forced sterilization, casual sexual cross-racial encounters, marriage, as well as friendship this study opens our perspective for the intimate in African American – German relations in the “age of extremes.” Based on a diverse set of sources ranging from personal papers and correspondence, Black press reports and novels to U.S. military records and files of the East German security service this study begins with the intimate to provide a fresh perspective on the global aspects of the African American struggle for freedom and dignity, its (unfulfilled) hopes and aspirations. In doing so, the project also sheds new light on the intricate link between the history of race and racism, coming to terms with the Nazi past, and the African American fight for civil rights, both in East and West Germany. Vice versa, Intimate Histories pays attention to the effects that broader developments such as German fascism and its aftermath, the Cold War, and the global struggle for Black liberation had on intimate matters.