The Feminist and Gender Studies Program presents “Relating Across Borders, A Teach-In about Representation” with Mekael Daniel, Judy Fisher, and Samuel Vang on Thursday November 7, 2019 from 4-5:30 at Sacred Grounds.
Representations of Afro-Asian Solidarities
Within white supremacist ideology, groups of color are pitted against one another to discourage cross-community relationship building. One of the ways this presents is through the model minority myth which exceptionalizes Asian success while it is also weaponized against Black people. For this teach-in, Mekael will highlight and analyze a small portion of visual and textual representations of Afro-Asian solidarities (through mediums such as photography, painting, and fiction), and how these representations subvert white supremacist racial hierarchies that seek to pit Black people and Asian people against each other economically, politically, socially and academically.
Indigeneity in Germany
This teach-in will focus on how images and representations of indigeneity in Germany are tied to global and transnational flows that influence Indigenous movement and lives. By interrogating representations of Native North Americans at two hobbyist festivals in Germany Judy demonstrates the importance of visual media representations and discourses on the opportunities available for Native people globally. Judy illustrates the colonial and imperial legacies that permeate German fascination with Native peoples while pointing to moments which provide opportunities for forging relationships, respect, and support
Vietnamese-American Masculinities, Hip-Hop, and the War
In the United States, if rappers are stereotyped as overly-masculine, and East Asians are stereotyped as not-masculine-enough, then what kind of masculinities do East Asian-American rappers have? In this talk, Vang will problematize representations of the highest streamed male-identifying Vietnamese-American rappers within U.S. media. In doing so, he highlights various contradictions that arise when a predominantly white U.S. audience consumes the labor of racialized, feminized bodies whom fill roles opposite to their bodily constructions. Vang will also interrogate the processes that have influenced the West’s constructions of masculinity and Asianness, namely: orientalism and colonialism.
I 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 TriotaPresident, 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 (2015was 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,” the2019 #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:
The weather hitting 90F degrees, something I’m pretty sure never happened in years past, and doing so several days each week.
Bella’s cube bear.
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).
Lauren’s RBF and fierce modeling skills.
Avia’s phone fan and ridiculous pranks.
Zander playing Captain Save ‘Em, and gettin’ hollered at all along the way.
Nicole being almost entirely silent then shakin’ up the space with the loudest, most hilarious laugh you ever did hear.
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.
Discussing the advantages and risks of comparative analysis.
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 hereto view a slideshow, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to see more pictures and videos!
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