Graffiti Workshop with Berlin Massive by Atquetzali Quiroz and Katharin Luckey

Atquetzali Quiroz

On Friday, June 23rd, we had our final day of class, creating a class graffiti mural on the Berlin Wall. During previous classes, we discussed possible mural ideas. Although three main concepts were proposed, we agreed on the “Hello, my name is..” idea. For context, this concept was influenced by the “Hello, my name is…” name tags found throughout Berlin. Then, during our Graffiti and Street Art walking tour, our guide Rob emphasized the importance of graffiti artists leaving their mark and one way many do is by posting these name tags around the city. This idea of leaving a mark resonated with many of my classmates, leading us to create a large-scale rendition of the name tag surrounded by our individual tags on the sides. For my personal tag, showcased in the slideshow below, I decided to create a green and pink heart. I chose this symbol as it was the easiest way to showcase the importance of moving through the world with love. It is important to recognize that the Berlin Wall holds significance as a site of expression and resistance, especially for marginalized communities. During our visit to Die Mauer asisi Panorama, the work of Yadegar Asisi, who had experienced life on East and West Berlin (both sides of the Wall) was highlighted. Asisi created a mural illustrating the second half of a building, because only the first half could be seen from his side of the wall at that time. Asisi is one among numerous artists that continue to create graffiti and street art on the wall to this day, leaving their mark and making a statement. I am proud of the work our class produced, and I feel that we left our mark as #FemGeniusesinBerlin.

Atquetzali Quiroz (she|they) is a rising senior at Colorado College. They are an Indigenous Nahua and Filipinx student from Imnížiska (Saint Paul), Mni Sóta, homeland of the Dakota peoples. Atquetzali is a Feminist and Gender Studies major minoring in Race, Ethnicity, & Migration Studies and Education. They hope to pursue a career as a high school Social Studies educator. They enjoy trying new food, dancing, and seeing new places. As this is Atquetzali’s first time in Europe, they are excited to adventure and make new memories!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Katharin Luckey

Today was the last day of the 2023 #FemGeniusesinBerlin program. Despite the all-day rainy weather, the group still showed up and showed out for one last hurrah to cap off the program, the graffiti workshop! Together with local artist Age Age, the team spray painted a massive group-designed piece onto the former Berlin Wall in addition to many individual tags. Over the past week, several ideas bounced around as to what exactly to spray paint as the group piece, including a series of footsteps (an homage to Dr. Lewis’ book In Audre’s Footsteps) and a giant kitchen table in reference to the second part of the book’s title, Transnational Kitchen Table Talk in Berlin, but the group eventually landed on the idea of a giant “Hello, my name is…” style name tag. Age Age outlined the design while the #FemGeniusesinBerlin wrote their individual tags, after which we individually wrote letters onto the group name tag in a rainbow color scheme (“I” wrote the “I” ^^). Today was understandably a very emotional day for everyone involved, full of group hugs and goodbyes. Over the course of the past three weeks, new connections formed, existing friendships strengthened, and many memories were made in the German capital, which served as the space where numerous foundational thinkers of Black Feminist, Transnational, and Critical Race Theories gathered and developed their ideas. Students created a group thank you card for Dr. Lewis and Judy Fisher for making this whole experience possible for everyone. As the group learned during the previous graffiti and street art walking tour, the art one creates on city walls, from the smallest of tags to the largest of street art pieces, does not simply mean “I was here,” but rather “I am here. I’ve been here, and I will continue to leave my mark on the world, no matter how short or long it lasts.” Expressions of joy and resistance remembered in the unlikeliest of places. Hidden narratives in hidden spaces…

This has been the #FemGeniusesinBerlin, signing out!

Kathrin Luckey is a rising senior double majoring in German and Romance Languages and minoring in Linguistics. She has a passion for languages and is particularly interested in translation, as well as linguistics in the context of intersectional feminist movements. She has previously studied on an exchange semester at the University of Göttingen.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Museum des Kapitalismus by Talulah Geheim and Kate Nixon

Going into this museum, I thought it would be well-funded like some of the other ones we have gone to this block. I did question the opening hours, as it was only open for two hours a day, and it was labeled temporarily closed on Google. What a surprise that a museum about the harmful impacts of capitalism in a capitalist country would not be well-funded! A majority of the displays were introductory, however, accessible and engaging to anyone unfamiliar with critiques of capitalism. Just like race, gender and sexuality, class is another social status that is used to oppress people, and we have discussed the ways intersectionality considers class along with race, gender, and sexuality. During our Jewish History walking tour, we touched on the topic of people who have the privilege to flee and seek refuge, during the Holocaust that was typically wealthy men. A prime example of this is Fazali Taylan, a rich Turkish businessman discussed in “Turk and Jew in Berlin: The First Turkish Migration to Germany and the Shoah” by Marc David Baer. Turkish people were also sent to concentration camps during the Nazi regime. During this time, the Schutzstaffel (or SS) offered the repatriation multiple times to the Turkish government for thousands of people. The Turkish government did not seem to care until it was Taylan, a Turkish migrant with Jewish ancestry. Because of his assets and business exporting German technical goods to Turkey, Turkey actively intervened to save Taylan’s life. While we often hear the stories of the rich like Taylan, the stories of the poor are often overlooked. Grassroots movements and organizations are the wheels for change, yet once the change occurs, the government takes all credit for creating such an “amazing society.” This was also discussed during the Jewish History walking tour when we learned Germany was being praised for being a country that recognizes its own past, but that was only done after the grassroots movements for Holocaust recognition in the 1970s.

by Talulah Geheim

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kate Nixon

On our penultimate day of the course and after a walking tour focused on the history of poverty and solidarity in Berlin, we visited the Museum des Kapitalismus (Museum of Capitalism). While the museum was on the smaller side, it was packed with interactive exhibits that often made you work for the knowledge (clever!). As a visual learner, I really enjoyed the visual explanations of capitalism—most of the details about how capitalism functions as a system of oppression had concrete examples that were easily digestible. The one section of the museum I especially appreciated was the visualization of intersectionality, a concept coined by American civil rights advocate Kimberlé Crenshaw that “is a metaphor for understanding the ways that multiple forms of inequality or disadvantage sometimes compound themselves and create obstacles that often are not understood among conventional ways of thinking.” This specific display let each person place planks, such as sexism, classism, and racism, that divided pegs that represented people into sections. These sections represent how multiply marginalized groups face different forms of oppression based on how their identities intersect. These intersecting identities create unique experiences that cannot be universalized based on one sole identity category, such as race or gender. Overall, the museum’s displays of how systemic oppression operates in everyday life make it all the more understandable to those who are more unfamiliar with the systems. The museum was also attentive to the specific ways in which capitalism functions in Germany, which I think is especially relevant for locals who may stop in and want to understand more about how capitalism functions here. Particularly after our walking tour that morning, the museum was a great explanation and insight into how people are forced into poverty that is often generational, and it helped me understand how state structures often perpetuate these conditions.

Kate Nixon is a rising senior pursuing a double major in Feminist & Gender Studies and Psychology, with an interest in finding where the two intersect and how they can inform each other. Raised in Maryland and Kansas City, Kate enjoys being in nature and exploring new places. When not working on classwork or the Colorado College newspaper, you can find Kate with friends making art or reading queer and feminist books in various coffee shops.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Queer Berlin Walking Tour with Mal Pool by Elliot Triplett and Cecelia Russell

Elliot Triplett

On the last Tuesday of class, we were lucky enough to go on a Queer Berlin walking tour led by Mal Pool. On the tour, we explored Schöneberg, the so-called “Gayborhood” of Berlin and talked about the history of the area and queer persecution and resistance. Mal told us many stories of how queer people throughout the past resisted persecution. These narratives made me think about the discussions we’ve been having throughout the class about what it means to resist. While we may think of resistance as protesting in the street or creating change, and it often is, this course has pushed me to broaden my understanding of resistance and to critically consider why I understand some actions as resistive and some not. In what situations is survival and hiding a form of resistance? Do you have to create concrete change to have done worthwhile resistance? How can we complicate our understanding of resistance to include less binaries and more complexity? Another aspect of the tour I appreciated was learning how communities and organizations evolved over time to become more inclusive and intersectional. One example of this phenomenon was Mann-O-Meter, a queer organization in Berlin. When it started, it only existed to serve cisgender, gay men, but it quickly expanded to serve people of all identities within the queer community, providing them with thoughtful and holistic care. Hearing about these organizations doing such good work was incredibly inspiring tome—in a world where so much is going wrong for queer people, it was nice to hear about people working to care for their communities. It was also inspiring to hear about how many organizations had improved themselves after they realized they weren’t inclusive enough. So often the narrative in activist spaces is that if you mess up, you’re done forever. So, it was helpful to have a more realistic model to look to.

Elliot Triplett is a Computer Science major and Feminist and Gender Studies minor from Longmont, Colorado. He is passionate about the mountains, disability justice, and his cats. In his free time, he can be found reading comics, making stuffed animals, and taking naps. This is his first study abroad course, and he is enjoying the chance to explore a new city.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cecelia Russell

We spent the morning situated in a “gayborhood” of Berlin around the Nollendorfplatz subway station, which soon became apparent as many pride flags came into view. Mal Pool, a queer person from Indiana who has lived in Berlin for the past 17 years, gave us a walking tour of the area. This location was the Sapphic Capital of the world (the whole world!) a century ago, and today you might never be able to tell. The streets and local businesses are filled with gay men. After World War I, many of the men never came back so the population was predominantly women; and in this area, these women loved women. After World War II, there was a drive for the nullification of property ownership under Nazi occupation. Queer ownership existed, but not legacy. Men had more property rights than women at the time, so this neighborhood became less sapphic-dominant. There was a central thread in our reading this week that resonated in our tour too: the creativity and resilience of the queer community here. For example, Mal brought us in front of a gay club, Metropol, that resembles a church. They pointed out that in times of hardship, such as the Covid pandemic, many people have places of community, such as church. But for many queer people, churches are not safe spaces. Instead, they have clubs and nightlife. During the pandemic, Covid cases were higher in churches than in the clubs. This community has lived through the AIDS epidemic. Queer people know how to be safe, get tested, prioritize health, and have fun while doing it. Mal pointed out that “the way that minorities like to have fun is the way they are criticized.” I aim to keep this in mind when considering different narratives told about marginalized communities, and who they are coming from.

Cecelia Russell is a rising senior from the north shore of Massachusetts, and her passions have in part been shaped by her upbringing on a fruit farm. Much of her time is spent organizing with other young people for environmental legislation, food security, and climate justice—with a recent focus on the college’s divestment campaign. Academically, she has so many interests that she has yet to declare a major, but she has spent most of her time studying environmental science.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Schwules* Museum by Jordan Fields and Emma Fowkes

Jordan Fields

The Schwules* Museum, located in the Schöneberg district of Berlin, is focused on LGBTQ+ community history worldwide and is one of the first museums to dedicate their work to the queer community. Certain sections of the museum explained critiques of masculinity, activism, and scholarship. On that note, Jürgen Lemke’s “Gay and Lesbian Life in East German Society Before and After 1989” examined the relationships between activism, community-building, and the state, which impacted my comprehension of how LGBT+ communities can be tightknit but have limited access to resources and support in certain situations. In particular, I was thinking about the differences in access and support for BIPoC queers and white queers, as was the case during the COVID-19 and Money Pox vaccinations. The societal connectivity of access through higher authorities or teachings of health insurance in the U.S. were available. Moreover, Jin Haritaworn’s “Queer Injuries: The Racial Politics of Homophobic Hate Crime in Germany” takes a transnational approach along these lines that is more considerate of race and racism, especially regarding criminalization in Berlin. The racialization of hate crimes against the BIPoC LGBT+ people generated discourse on redefining crime and progressive political (policies) integration changes to protect the marginalized people within marginalized groups. These two academic works necessarily highlight ongoing discourse about how the LGBTQ+ community could improve or sustain more accessibility.

Jordan Fields is a rising second-semester senior at Colorado College pursuing an independently designed major focused on sociological Gender Studies and an Urban Studies minor. They grew up in the south and west of Chicago, Illinois. Their family was born and mostly raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and they identify as a Black Puerto Rican American. They wanted to take this course to better understand critiques and discourses on race, sexuality, history, and feminism.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Emma Fowkes

The Schwules*Museum’s timeline of the decriminalization of queer love and life reminds us that historically, the criminal justice system has been used as a weapon of state violence. The “Love at First Fight” exhibit outlines how LGBTQ+ activism and identities were a product of state repression. Queer nightclubs were often targets of police raids, and until as recently as 1994, queer people were being imprisoned for consensual sex. Jin Haritaworn explains how hate crime politics often selectively protect the most privileged members of the LGBTQ+ community while criminalizing others and bolstering the police state. Discourse on hate crimes relies on the myth that violent homophobia is “locatable with a few rotten apples” from which the diversity-loving state can protect domesticated, non-criminal LGBTQ+ people. In Germany, those “rotten apples” are largely identified as Muslim immigrants, while the victim is often conceptualized as a white, gender-conforming man. The Schwules* Museum’s documentation of police violence against queer people demands that we not forget that we, the more privileged in the queer community, were once criminals, too. Surely, homophobic hate is a real problem that must be eradicated. But in the process, we need to be careful of who we position as the perpetrator, who we position as being in need of protection, and who we rely on for that protection. Crenshaw’s intersectionality details how identity groups “are in fact not monolithic but made up of members with different and perhaps competing identities as well.” Popular discourse around LGBTQ+ people often centers white, gender-conforming men. Increasing surveillance and incarceration for the purpose of hate crime policing puts people of color, trans people, sex workers, and other people disproportionately targeted by state violence at risk. The Schwules* Museum and Haritaworn highlight the dangers of relying on state apparatuses to integrate only the most privileged of queer people into the mainstream while subjugating others in the process.

Emma Fowkes is a rising senior at Colorado College majoring in Sociology but doing her best to take classes across as many disciplines as possible. She spends a lot of her time training in the sprints, jumps, throws, and hurdles for the college’s track and field team, as well as leading Injustice Watch, the student court-watching organization. After Berlin, she is planning on returning to her family’s home in Wilmette, Illinois to do research on the El Paso County Judicial System and work as an usher at a local music venue. Recently, she completed her first “moderate” level sudoku puzzle.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A Day in the Life of the #FemGeniusesinBerlin by Brailey Harris and Elie Deshommes

Brailey Harris

On our last Monday as the #FemGeniusesinBerlin, we had class at our usual spot, xart splitta on Hasenheide Street. After our initial check-in, we got to hear about Judy’s research on Indian hobbyism in Germany and its implications. Throughout our discussion, Judy gave us insight into the academic journey she has followed as her understanding of and relationship to this prominent industry has shifted. As we wrapped up class, I asked Professor Lewis a question about the generation and perpetuation of knowledge. “How do you decide what stories you share with the community, the public, and what you keep to yourself?” In her response, she reminded me that with whatever I choose to share, I should leave room for my future self to disagree with me. As you age, the perspective you have on the work you do will likely change. After class, I headed to the Schwules* Museum to learn about the queer histories of Berlin. With white faces abound, I saw friends, lovers, and colleagues, but I struggled to find myself represented in this space– except in a small but powerful exhibit dedicated to Audre Lorde, Katharina Oguntoye, and Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out. I did, however, notice what looked like remnants of New York style Ballroom culture in the drag queens’ dress and performances depicted on the walls. This leads me to the question: “How is Black culture within the United States reproduced elsewhere?” I ended my day with a visit to the Berlin Aquarium. As a giant Ecology nerd, I have been very curious to know more about how Berliners memorialize, preserve, and protect the nature that surrounds them. The tortoises and lizards were more friendly with visitors than I have ever witnessed, and I got to see insects I have only ever heard about in books!

Brailey Harris is a rising sophomore at Colorado College and a Texas native. They enjoy slam poetry, speaking out of turn, and playing rugby for the school’s Cutthroat Trout club team. Brailey’s major is currently undeclared, but they hope to intertwine their passions for understanding both people and the planet.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Elie Deshommes (middle) with Kate Nixon (left) and Elliot Triplett (right)

My day in the life was an interesting one. I went to the Schwules* Museum and the Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum der Charité (the Gay Museum and the Medical Histories Museum). Medical history has always been a topic of interest to me. From the humor of Ancient Greece to the “bad airs” of the Victorian period, humanity has come a long way in understanding what makes our bodies tick. However, what most fascinates me is the study of race, body rights, and the extent that these beliefs affect us today. The Medical Histories Museum acknowledged the shaky history of its early collections, noting that most wet and dry specimens were taken from the most vulnerable in society (e.g., mentally ill, unwed mothers, and poor people). Quite simply, these people were only seen as valuable in terms of what could be taken from them. Walking around and seeing the early specimens was a painful process. They had no names, and their anonymity in life continued in death. Female, Male, Adolescent, and many other labels were attached to them—all but the names that gave them identity. Seeing the phrenological skull and the journals on phrenological and racial typecasting made me ache. Before me was the justification and the works that were utilized in the slave trade, genocides, and many other systems of racial hate. The museum did a good job in acknowledging the criminality of these “doctors” and “scientists” with an entire section on how false science and racism influenced the results and the methods that were used to gain these results. But what made me hopeful was the museum’s focus on giving body rights and names back to the patients they cared for (in the connected hospital). From the 1920s onward, consent was a major element of the specimens. Other visitors didn’t enjoy the fact that the specimens had names and stories behind them, but for me it was refreshing. Their bodies weren’t stolen and abused. They were given freely with the goal to further medical understanding. It isn’t a perfect system. Classism, sexism, and racism are still very present in the modern day. For example, Black people are still often seen as patients without pain and without needs. The mentally ill are still treated with scorn and discomfort. But what I saw in that museum (and the adjacent studies in the Neuroscience Division) was a focus on the individual, a practice focused on truly helping others, caring about them, and letting the patient have their individuality and names back.

Elienne Deshommes is a queer rising junior who loves to learn. They are majoring in Organismal Biology, focusing on environmental stability and healing. However, their interests are broad and include African-based religions, queer history, evolutionary sciences, and Greco-Roman history. Born in Denver, CO to a Haitian immigrant father and a Coloradan mother, their dream would be to return the island of Hispaniola and its ecological past to increase the opportunities of LGBT citizens via STEM jobs and education.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.