The Neues Museum by Kaléa Daniels and Glorie Michelle Romero Elvir Enamorado

Kaléa Daniels

At the Neues Museum, the sub-level of the museum holds the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung (Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection). This exhibition gives visitors insight into what it looked like during ancient times. The Neues Museum, like many institutions of its kind, acquired the artifacts displayed in this collection either directly or indirectly from a process of theft. Yet, the genius and beauty of the work of this civilization are almost blinding despite the immoral and unethical practices from which the Neues did acquire these artifacts. From the artisans to the engineers, it is present that there is a level of mastery and intelligence in each field. During Christ’s existence, they had already invented combs, makeup applicators, handheld mirrors, and more. One of the most distinct inferences to note about the artisans of this civilization is that they were collaborative rather than individualistic. In a sculpture of the God Amun Ra in the form of a Ram with a Pharaoh, the sculpture not only holds beauty after withstanding hundreds of years of weathering and erosion, but it also contains information that this piece was made by more than one sculptor. In the ears, you can see that each one had its slight difference in its texture, yet still lays seamlessly into the rest. The impact of these tools is present today, exemplifying a way these ancient Black civilizations’ technology impacts the current day. Further, it is one of the many few representations of ancient Black civilizations to date, creating what can be argued as a form of resistance and counter-storytelling, largely when juxtaposed with the popular narratives that have been manipulated around descendants of Africa, especially in America where the media has propagated the idea of the lazy Black American since before the release of A Birth of a Nation in 1915.

Kaléa Daniels is a senior Studio Art major attending Colorado College from Hollis, New York. They are an Afrofuturist artist with a focus on sculpture who operates through her art as a window of healing. Kaléa is inspired by reparation work, funk, and soul music. In his free time, Kaléa enjoys reading, dancing, and designing.

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Glorie Michelle Romero Elvir Enamorado

Upon attending the Neues Museum, I was blown away by the tomb walls, the coffins, the book of the dead scroll, the mask, and much more. This experience really helped me see how marginalized people have always honored the ones who came before them. When I think about the way afterlife exist for BIPoC communities, it is often centered around the idea of being dead together. Dead together also meaning no longer suffering together. The piece we read this week about counter-story telling, “Critical Race Methodology: Counter-Storytelling as an Analytical Framework for Education Research” by Daniel G. Solórzano and Tara J. Yosso, impacted my experience of the museum. I was seeing ways Egyptians told their stories and kept them alive with the use of the Book of the Dead, with miniature statues of Gods, with the symbolic carvings onto coffins, with the offerings on tomb walls. It was fascinating to see how common symbols that held after-life meanings were reused in a multitude of ways that produced a narrative. I am quite unfamiliar with marginalized communities in Germany at this point, but the art I saw reminded me they are still here and community amongst one another is valuable. Using counter stories to embrace one another is a survival tactic in some ways, but also has its roots in history.

P.S. All the jewelry was so beautiful, and the gold hoops were iconic!

Glorie Michelle Romero Elvir Enamorado was named after her matriarchal grandmother Gloria, and many family members call her Gloria or Flaca. She was born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras and raised in Long Beach, California. She grew up with a Mexican stepfather, though, so she would consider herself culturally mixed. She’s the oldest immigrant daughter and a first-generation high school graduate. She got her passport just this year, and is now studying in Berlinso needless to say, she is (and about to be!) a well-travelled girl!

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German Colonialism Walking Tour with Josephine Apraku by Katharin Luckey and Ella Simons

Katharin Luckey

Today’s walking tour brought the group to Berlin’s so-called “Afrikanisches Viertel” (African Quarter). In dialogue with Berlin-based African Studies scholar Josephine Apraku, the #FemGeniusesinBerlin discussed the history of German colonialism in Africa from the perspectives of Africans and Afro-Germans, as well as the continuing efforts to address the lasting effects and remnants of German colonialism, including but not limited to various streets and locations in this area of Berlin that bare|bore the names of significant German colonists, such as Carl Peters, Adolf Lüderitz, and Gustav Nachtigal. Apraku themself has been involved in the effort to rename numerous streets in Germany. Discussion of early Afro-German writings by Theodore Michael and Hans-Jürgen Massaquoi followed. Both Michael and Massaquoi were raised in Germany in the early 20th century and wrote extensively about their experiences in addition building upon the growing field of Postcolonial Theory. This tour contributes significantly to intersectional feminism studies in Berlin in that it strongly frames and analyses German colonialism in relation to modern German society, as well as former German colonies in Africa. The lived experiences of Black people in Germany and former German colonies are an oft-unrepresented topic within mainstream German education and historical discourse and has only received some recognition within the past decade as of the writing of this journal. Due to the nuances of this theme, the discussion with Apraku touched on many topics, such as the role of German women as agents of colonialism. The fact that this topic receives very little attention outside of theoretical and activist spaces illustrates a gap in public knowledge to discuss within the context of Postcolonial Theory. The tour also brought the #FemGeniusesinBerlin to the Statue of Limitations, a sculpture of a flagpole at half-mast located in the Afrikanisches Viertel as well as the Humoldt Forum, a museum that holds stolen property from numerous colonized nations around the world. Many thanks to Josephine Apraku for their time and effort in this guided tour|discussion.

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.

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Ella Simons

During the walking tour led by Josy, several themes surrounding marginalized communities, particularly black people of African descent in Germany, were discussed. These themes consisted of the discourse surrounding Germany’s colonial history emerging as a significant problem within German culture. Josy emphasized that recognition and commemoration of individuals of African descent has only begun to gain traction in the past decade. The tour highlighted the impact of street renaming as a catalyst for this shift in recognition and explored the connection between decolonization and the street named Ghana Straße. Until recently, Germany’s colonial past was not adequately addressed in educational discourse or taught in schools. The omission of German colonialism from the study of German history is purposeful, despite the country being the third largest colonial power in terms of territorial possession. This deliberate oversight has perpetuated a lack of awareness about Germany’s role in colonization and its impact on marginalized communities. The decision to rename streets in the neighborhood, which took place in 2016, marked a significant turning point in recognizing Africans in Germany. The previous street names were associated with colonists and had been in use for years. Ghana Straße, the first street visited during the tour, holds a connection to decolonization. The street derives its name from the fact that the son of Ghana’s first leader studied in Berlin, symbolizing the struggle for decolonization and the recognition of African contributions. Wedding, the neighborhood we explored during the walking tour, serves as a site of collective remembrance, intertwining with German racist discourse. This knowledge I gained from the tour helps me understand the context of Germany’s colonization and that the renaming of streets in the past eight years reflects a shift in Germany’s acknowledgement of this past. I also learned that the ideology of intersectional oppression reveals interconnected struggles faced by Jewish people, people of color, and women. This applies specifically to women of color and the role white women played and continue to play oppressing the most marginalized demographic of women. This reminded me of May Ayim’s “Precolonial images of Africa, Colonialism, and Fascism,” as it mentions the perception of blackness as evil and Black women as unfeminine.

Ella Simons is a rising junior majoring in Political Science and minoring in Environmental Studies at Colorado College. She is from Cambridge, MA and attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School. Growing up in Cambridge had a large impact on her perspectives about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Ella cares about issues of social justice and wants to eventually work in global democratization efforts.

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The 2022 #FemGeniusesinBerlin

Photo Credit: Dr. Heidi R. Lewis

Click here to view a slideshow of pictures, and follow @FemGeniuses and|or @AudresFootsteps on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook to see more pictures and videos.

Multimedia Podcast Index:

The RomaniPhen Feminist Archive + the Romanja Power Walking Tour with Estera Iordan” by Christiana García-Soberanez
A Conversation with Jasmin Eding” by Eliza Strong
Jewish History & Culture Walking Tour + Museum Blindenwerkstatt Otto Weidt with Adam Schonfeld” by Bridget Hanley
BlackEurope: The Beginnings of Black Self-Organization in Europe” by Erin Huggins
German Colonialism Walking Tour w/ Josephine Apraku + the Neues Museum” by Amalia Lopez
A Conversation with Sharon Dodua Otoo” by Latra Demaçi
The Wall Museum + the Berliner Unterwelten Tour” by Margalit Goldberg
Blackness in America and Europe: Where the Grey Space Exists” by Monica Carpenter
A Conversation with Dana Maria Asbury, Mona El Omari, and Iris Rajanayagam” by Vicente Blas-Taijeron
Graffiti & Street Art Walking Tour + the Urban Nation Museum” by Alexis Cornachio
A Conversation with Judy Lynne Fisher” by River Clarke
Queer Berlin Walking Tour w/ Mal Pool + the Schwules*Museum” by Riley Hester
A Street Art Workshop with Berlin Massive” by Judy Gonzalez

To read and|or listen to the finales and view the indices and slideshows for previous #FemGeniusesinBerlin, click here

German Colonialism Walking Tour w/ Josephine Apraku + the Neues Museum

by Amalia Lopez

Photo Credit: Dr. Heidi R. Lewis

On Tuesday, we attended a colonialism walking tour in one of Berlin’s thirty “African Quarters” in the neighborhood of Wedding with Josephine Apraku. The tour focused on several locations—including Ghanastraße, Petersallee, and Mockingbird square—where we discussed who and what had been memorialized by those names. This was especially relevant to me in light of the protests following the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020. These protests pushed for social change in many forms, including the destruction and removal of statues that memorialize colonialists and those who either enacted or fought for slavery. In Germany, similar discussions have happened regarding these and other street names.

For example, Ghanastraße ties back to Germany’s colonialism. Particularly, a German “fortress” on the Ghanaian coast and was part of the Atlantic Slave Trade. However, its existence is not often remembered or discussed. Similarly, Petersallee was originally named after colonialist Carl Peters who was a particularly violent man who was once called back to Berlin after burning down the homes of one of his former female partners and her new partner. However, his return home was not due to the violent nature of his acts but rather how it reflected on his country. In 1986, there was a big push by German activists to rename streets in a move to no longer honor German colonialism. In turn, the street underwent a “perspective change” and is now meant to honor Hans Peters who aided efforts against Nazis.

Photo Credit: Dr. Heidi R. Lewis

As I stood there, looking up at this green sign learning about this violent man, I thought about what kind of violence is acceptable. Along these lines, Apraku told us that one of the ways people in power attempted to prevent resistance was by limiting enslaved people’s ability to communicate with one another. They intentionally placed people from different regions together on slave ships to prevent them from being able to organize. However, enslaved people continued to find ways to resist, including training their bodies using sports such as capoeira. Learning, understanding, and maintaining language is seen as violent under the eyes of colonialists. However, theft, murder, rape, and genocide are acts of cleansing and sovereignty, according to this logic. So, I stood there thinking about Carl Peters, his legacy, and how hard people have fought to preserve it.

Photo Credit: Dr. Heidi R. Lewis

At the end of the tour, we visited a large panel planted in the ground. One of the first things you might notice is graffiti scribbled over it, random tags that covered up the German letters in certain spots. There are also two sides, each telling a slightly different version of the time period. One side showcased an image of a postcard depicting a death camp and colonialists standing over and holding human bones. The bones were being packed and prepared to be sent back home. I thought about the type of person who would purchase such a post card to write home to their own families. “Hi, Dear. My travels are going well. Hope to see you soon. Love, Mommy.” The normalization of Black pain in Germany has been long in its duration and yet most often remains unaddressed.

With all these thoughts swirling in my head, we journeyed over to the Neues Museum to examine the exhibits. The museum had a beautiful, inviting architectural design. I have liked museum since I was a kid. I have been a big reader throughout my life—my books often accompanying me in restaurants and stores. In other words, I enjoy reading the descriptions and gaining more historical context. So, as I walked through the exhibit, this was my main focus. Reading and analyzing the written descriptions of stolen artifacts and art, one in particular caught my eye. It was the description for “The Repression of Chaos” formulated by Hermann Schievelbein, which was a large frieze high up on the museum walls in the “Greek courtyard” filled with natural light. It was towards the top of walls, so your neck needed to be strained to look up and examine the intricacies from 30 feet below. The description of the piece read: “King Sahurê, as hunter, slays wild animals and thereby subordinates nature which appears before him as personifications of fertility, handing him the fruits of the earth. The gods are shown bringing captive Nubians, Libyans, and Asians to the King, while order is being established in foreign affairs by the cargo ships bringing goods from Lebanon to Egypt.” The description insisted these men, these kings and their pawns of colonialism, were simply a natural occurrence. In fact, they boldly declare that enslavement is an act committed by god.

Photo Credit: Dr. Heidi R. Lewis

I read and reread the second line, and I was dumbfounded by the lack of ownership in the art and its trailing paragraph—this courtyard connected to the Egyptian exhibit where many stolen artifacts sat behind broken glass looking both beautiful and mournful. I want to note that the Egyptian exhibit was almost entirely in the dim basement and the one area where sunshine poured down was dedicated mainly to the Greeks. These artifacts did not naturally arrive here, and surely god did not deliver them. One of the main sections of the Egyptian exhibit was dedicated to sarcophaguses. It was haunting as I thought about who once found rest in them, their bodies removed and placed elsewhere while this intricately decorated frame was brought here. Even in death, their bodies could not find rest or solitude.

As I walked through the other exhibits, such as the Greek exhibit, I thought about what could possibly rectify these thefts of life and love that were taken through such explicit violence. This is something Black Germans have been working through long before my three-week long study here. Organizations, such as Adefra, have worked to break down violence, isolation, and discrimination. They have found empowerment in unity and by prioritizing and appreciating one another’s stories, they break down these constructions. Resistance to colonialist ideologies comes in many forms: renaming, acknowledging, destruction, and listening.

Amalia Lopez is a rising junior at Colorado College. As a Chicana who grew up in Denver, she has a deep respect for social justice work and has seen its impact and essentiality in her own city. Specifically, unions, workers’ rights organizations, and Ethnic Studies has been of great importance to her and her parents. She plays rugby and has enjoyed athletics for the majority of her life. She loves to read poetry, and dancing is one of her favorite pastimes, as well as spending time with my friends. She’s a September Virgo, and she acts accordingly. She does not particularly care for fried eggs.

Some Final Thoughts on the 2019 #FemGeniusesinBerlin

Top (L to R): Matthew FitzGibbon, Bella Staal, Kelsey Mattox, Cam Kaplan, Samuel Vang, Maggie O’Brien, Avia Hailey, Nizhooni Hurd, Alexander Jobin-Leeds, and Lauren Hough; Middle (L to R): Miles Marshall, Professor Heidi R. Lewis, Cameron Bacher, Nicole Berlanga, and Eileen Huang; and Bottom (L to R): Caroline Livaditis, Maysie Poland, Mekael Daniel, Dana Maria Asbury (Course Associate), Mimi Norton de Matos, and Zivia Berkowitz

have to start by saying that the five-year anniversary of the course started out with a bang for a few reasons:

  • It’s the first time the course has been full. In fact, we exceeded the maximum enrollment limit of 16 by one student;
  • two of my students were able to secure funding to come conduct research—Judy Fisher, Feminist & Gender Studies Major ’20, 2019-2020 Triota President, 2018-2019 Shannon McGee Prize winner, and Fall 2017 #FemGeniusesinBerlin alum came to conduct transnational studies of American Indigeneity; and Mekael Daniel, Feminist & Gender Studies Major ’20 and 2019-2020 Triota Vice President came to conduct transnational studies of Blackness;
  • and we were joined by my niece-cousin-boo from Memphis, TN, Kelsey Nichole Mattox, who turned 18 and graduated from high school recently. So, her presence was especially meaningful. In fact, she had never gotten on an airplane until she traveled here, excitedly letting us know, “I decided to go all the way!”

Judy and Mekael arrived the same day I did, and we trekked to Radebeul (near Dresden) to attend the Karl May Festival so Judy could observe, think about, and examine Native American participation in predominantly white festival culture in Germany, as well as white Native American hobbyism. Imagine the raised-eyebrows of every single one of my friends and comrades in Berlin when I told the about this—haha. Judy and Mekael also went to the Great Indian Meeting at the El Dorado theme park in Templin the following weekend to continue Judy’s work. Shoutout to my colleague, Dr. Santiago Ivan Guerra (Associate Professor of Southwest Studies at Colorado College), for introducing Judy to the significance of hobbyism in Germany, illustrating the collective efforts necessary for critical theory work.

Also, it’s worth pointing out that it’s been a while since the #FemGeniusesinBerlin were so full of #BlackGirlMagic (2015 was the last time, to be exact), and I couldn’t have been more excited about that. One adorable and powerful manifestation of that was Avi(a) leading several rounds of “Deep Truth, Truth,” a game that allowed her to bond with her classmates, especially her roommates, but also with Dana and I one day during lunch. “Deep Truth, Truth” starts with someone asking another person if they’d like to share a deep truth or what one might refer to as a “regular” truth. A “regular truth” could be anything from sharing your favorite color to a song that you hate; however, a “deep truth” is usually something that one might not share in a group like this, because lots of us don’t know each other well enough to be comfortable with that kind of vulnerability. Then, once the person being questioned decides what kind of truth they want to share, the questioner asks a question. After the question is answered, the person being questioned then gets to ask another person in the group a question. I got to ask and answer twice (one truth and one deep truth), and learned a lot about the students that day. Neat stuff.

In “short,” the 2019 #FemGeniusesinBerlin were such a great bunch even though we most certainly hit a few snags along the way. Here are some (definitely not all) of the most memorable moments:

  1. The weather hitting 90F degrees, something I’m pretty sure never happened in years past, and doing so several days each week.
  2. Bella’s cube bear.
  3. Mekael, Judy, and I being photographed by a stranger (with consent) at the Karl May Festival and finding the very poorly-filtered but very cute photograph on social media (posted with consent).
  4. Lauren’s RBF and fierce modeling skills.
  5. Avia’s phone fan and ridiculous pranks.
  6. Zander playing Captain Save ‘Em, and gettin’ hollered at all along the way.
  7. Eileen’s “hey.”
  8. Nicole being almost entirely silent then shakin’ up the space with the loudest, most hilarious laugh you ever did hear.
  9. Vang asking to sit on our roof (which would most certainly result in his untimely death), asking about transporting beer back to the U.S., telling us he got “hemmed up by 12” (which turned out to mean he was approached by some ticket-checkers on the subway and allowed to continue his trip with a mere warning…side eye), telling folks about sex stores, and gettin’ hollered at for almost every single thing all along the entire way.
  10. Discussing the advantages and risks of comparative analysis.
  11. Mimi’s sneakin’ in and slam-dunking the graffiti workshop brainstorming session.
  12. Miles’ hair flips, especially because they don’t even have a lot of hair, and lessons in lipstick.
  13. Caroline “showing off” her knowledge of the German language (see below).
  14. Matt trolling the entire class almost the entire time and then agreeing to draw a troll during our graffiti workshop.
  15. DeAira Cooper, 2015 #FemGeniusesinBerlin alum, coming to visit.
  16. Dr. W. Christopher Johnson, Assistant Professor of History and the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto and husband of our Course Associate Dana Asbury, coming for a visit and joining us for a few sessions.

I could go on and on and on. I will never forget this group. Such a great summer through it all, which led to my new phrases: Must be June. Must be Berlin.

2019 FemGeniuses in Berlin Podcast Index:
Click here to view a slideshow, and follow us on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook to see more pictures and videos!

Jewish Berlin Tour” by Nizhooni Hurd
Topography of Terror” by Zander Jobin-Leeds
Jasmin Eding” by Avia Hailey
German Colonialism Walking Tour” by Mimi Norton de Matos
Each One Teach One e.V.” by Maysie Poland
RAA Berlin” by Nicole Berlanga
RomaniPhen e.V.” by Samuel Vang
Pořajmos Walking Tour” by Cam Kaplan
Synchronicity with Sharon Dodua Otoo” by Maggie O’Brien
Rebellious Berlin Walking Tour” by Bella Staal
FHXB Museum” by Lauren Hough
The Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted under Nazism” by Cameron Bacher
Queer Berlin Walking Tour” by Miles Marshall
Schwules* Museum” by Eileen Huang
Trans*sexworks” by Zivia Berkowitz
Graffiti Workshop with Berlin Massive” by Mekael Daniel
Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art” by Caroline Livaditis
Street Art and Graffiti Walking Tour” by Matt FitzGibbon

To read and/or listen to the finales and view the indices and slideshows for previous FemGeniuses in Berlin, click here