Dominique Haensell


Lansstraße 5-9
14195 Berlin


since 2014

Doctoral candidate

Graduate School of North American Studies, Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany

Dissertation Working Title: Black Cosmopolitanism in Contemporary Diasporic Fiction


Critical Methodologies, MA Distinction

King’s College, London, UK

Thesis Title: A Vacant Masquerade – Fantasy, Frustration and the Precarious Male Subject in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut


English Philology, Comparative Literatures (AVL)

Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany

Thesis Title: Switch Assembly and Glitch Control – Cyborg Constructions in Contemporary Female Pop



Panel chair: Afrofuturism

13th Annual Students and Graduates Conference Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, “Approaching Blackness”

November 13-15, 2014 | Berlin


 On the Potentialities of Afropolitanism: Movement, Space and Time in Teju Cole's Open City

ASWAD 8th Biennial Conference, “African Diaspora Circularities: Forging Communities, Cultures, and Politics”
November 4-7, 2015 | Charleston


“Confounded Time, Conflicted Movements – Genre and the Spacetime of Blackness in Teju Cole's Open City

African Literature Association 42nd Annual Conference, “Justice and Human Dignity in Africa and the African Diaspora”

April 6-9, 2016 | Atlanta


“(Post-)Independent Women – Navigating Global Africanism and Feminism in the Neo-Liberal Age”

2nd Annual Black Feminism, Womanism and the Politics of Women of Colour in Europe Symposium

October 7, 2017 | Amsterdam


“Romance, Return and the Long View of History in Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah”   

ASWAD 9th Biennial Conference, “African/Diasporic Futures: Re-Envisioning Power, Interventions, Imaginations and Belonging”

November 7-11, 2017 | Seville

Workshops/Summer Schools


“Borders, Borderthinking, Borderlands”, Summer Institute at the University of Bremen, in cooperation with Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, May 15-26



“The Contemporary African Diaspora: Traveling Cultures

in the New Black Atlantic”, Workshop at the John F. Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin, June 21-23



“Cultures of the Contemporary African Diaspora”, Workshop at the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC), The Graduate Center, CUNY, April 19-20


Academic Publications

forthcoming ”Going Through the Motions – Movement and Metahistory in Teju Cole’s Open City” Atlantic Studies: Global Currents


Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes Alumna of the German National Merit Foundation, awarded a full scholarship in 2010 and an additional grant to complete a Master’s Degree abroad

Black Cosmopolitanism in Contemporary Diasporic Fiction (Dissertationsprojekt)

Dissertation in Literatur

Mentoring team:
First supervisor: Prof. Ulla Haselstein
Second supervisor: Prof. Sabine Schülting
Third supervisor: Prof. Yogita Goyal

This project explores the aesthetic actualization of a distinct and contested notion of cosmopolitanism in contemporary fictional works of the Anglophone African diaspora. A special attention will be paid to authors who have recently, and not undisputedly so, been labeled under the term “Afropolitanism” and on a critical evaluation of how this cosmopolitan buzzword differs from or is challenged by older concepts like Pan-Africanism. As these works are predominantly set, produced and received in a US context, the supposed ‘newness’ of the perspectives of a “Non-American Black” generation of artists will be questioned, contrasted and related to other or more established diasporic epistemologies. The selected works and authors include: Teju Cole, Open City (2011); Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013); Taiye Selasi, Ghana Must Go (2013) and Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing (2016).    

Generally, the dissertation employs the concept of aesthetic “Afropolitanism“ as a tool to trace not only the limits, but also the various entry points, origins, futures and trajectories of ‘blackness’. I posit that the discourses both surrounding and resonating within the particular works pertain not only to global representations of the African continent, but also the notion of fluid and heterogeneous global ‘blackness’. While the dissertation aims to illuminate the international momentum and theoretical impetus of what has come to be regarded a watershed moment in African literatures, its initial focus lies on how the texts foreground different epistemic positionalities towards the African Diaspora and its generic conventions through their respective treatment of temporality, historiography and the transnational imaginary.

Dahlem Research School
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft