WiG is committed to anti-racist feminism and is taking concrete steps to ensure that WiG spaces (conferences, co-sponsored panels, the WiG-List, social media, and collaborative spaces) reflect those practices and values. A renewed commitment to work against injustice and discrimination within our organization and beyond is long overdue.
WiG acknowledges the ability of the organization and its members to push the boundaries of feminist scholarship and action in the field of German Studies by employing an antiracist politics of care with a deep commitment to feminist coalition- and community-building.
WiG is committed to making interventions in the field of German Studies and contributing to structural change, while addressing inequities and imbalances of power. The organization has the potential to serve as a collaborative, supportive, self-reflective, and accessible space that is able to respond to the needs of its community. Members’ scholarship and practice aim to address and challenge manifestations of antisemitism, anti-queer, anti-trans, anti-Muslim, xenophobia, classicism, and ableism, as well as anti-Indigenous, anti-immigrant, anti-Roma, anti-Asian, anti-Black and other forms of racism in creative, compassionate, productive, and intersectional ways.
WiG continues to be a majority-white space and has failed in the past at being a welcoming space for Scholars of Color. WiG is a community overwhelmingly comprised of tenure-track and tenured faculty, and thus the positions of those with the “most security” and power in the academy disproportionately represent the organization. WiG has not done the work of decolonizing its spaces and structures, nor has it done an adequate job of confronting its own structural and systemic racism.
Given our values and recognizing the context of our organization, WiG is committed to take the following actions:
Mitigate the violence and discriminatory potential of language
WiG condemns the use of derogatory language because it perpetuates harm to BIPOC, members of the LGBTQIA community, noncitizens, people with disabilities, and others and has the potential to lead to re-traumatization.
WiG also considers the impact that the use of vocabulary and the use of examples from a text can have on differently-situated individuals.
At WiG and in WiG-affiliated spaces, it is inappropriate to use the N-word in any context or in any language. If the word is in the title of the work, simply say “N-word.” If it’s in a citation, do the same.
In recognizing WiG values, concerns about censorship do not take priority over concerns about the well-being of our communities.
Create inclusive scholarly and professional spaces that challenge white supremacy
WiG is committed to feminist anti-racist citation practices.
Scholarly integrity includes acknowledging and highlighting the work of junior scholars, Scholars of Color, and scholars in more vulnerable positions.
As an anti-racist feminist organization, WiG values contributions of BIPOC scholars across disciplines and recognizes that some of our members have been doing groundbreaking anti-racist feminist work for a long time.
WiG promotes scholarship and teaching practices that disrupt and decenter traditional “Western/white,” heteronormative, and ableist academic knowledge production.
WiG encourages mentorship and understands that mentorship needs to be a trust-building practice. Power structures and hierarchies need to be acknowledged, confronted, and broken down whenever possible, which includes marking whiteness and working towards undoing marginalizations.
Address structural inequalities
As an organization, WiG aspires to promote equity, access, and representation for its members.
WiG conference sessions and affiliate WiG sessions at other conferences should generally be organized by a more experienced and a less experienced WiG member (e.g. a graduate student or someone at the early stages of their career, whether it be within or outside of academia).
Our members are called on to remain self-reflective, critical, and conscious of their positionalities and potential positive and negative impacts when presenting, mentoring, collaborating, or working on committees together.
Repeated intervention is key. Preventive measures, though often successful in mitigating harm, are not enough to ensure full inclusion nor to ensure that everyone in WiG spaces has full access to the tools necessary to co-create the organization. WiG is committed to taking action to address individual, collective, and structural issues that have arisen and may continue to arise. The leadership team encourages all members to work together to find constructive ways to adhere to these guidelines and promote WiG’s core values.
All members of WiG, including all conference participants, commit to co-creating a space and experience for every participant that is enriching, productive, and fulfilling, and that is not hostile, threatening, or exclusionary.
These Community Guidelines will be:
sent to panel organizers upon acceptance of a panel at the WiG conference;
sent to participants upon acceptance of a paper or poster, with particular focus on panels with content that could generate harm in any way;
sent to registrants upon registration for the WiG conference;
reviewed by the WiG President or conference organizer(s) at the beginning of the WiG conference annually;
and, posted on the WiG website.
It is the responsibility of the leadership team to update these guidelines to reflect on the ways in which WiG as an organization can be an ever-more inclusive and safe place for scholars invested in feminist anti-racist German studies.
Adibeli, Nduka-Agwu, and Antje Lann Hornscheidt, eds. Rassismus auf gut Deutsch. Ein kritisches Nachschlagewerk zu rassistischen Sprachhandlungen. Frankfurt a. M: Brandes & Apsel, 2013.
Arndt, Susan. Wie Rassismus aus Wörtern spricht. (K)erben des Kolonialismus im Wissensarchiv deutsche Sprache: Ein Nachschlagewerk. Münster: Unrast, 2011.
Ayim, May, Ika Hügel, Chris Lange, Ilona Bubeck, Gülsen Aktas, and Dagmar Schultz, eds. Entfernte Verbindungen: Rassismus, Antisemitismus, Klassenunterdrückung. Berlin: Orlanda Frauenverlag, 1993.
Eggers, Maureen Maisha, Grada Kilomba, Peggy Piesche, and Susan Arndt, eds. Mythen, Masken und Subjekte. Kritische Weißseinsforschung in Deutschland. Münster: Unrast, 2005.
Essed, Philomena. Everyday Racism: Reports from Women of Two Cultures. Hunter House, 1990.
Fricker, Miranda. Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. 1st edition, Oxford University Press, 2009.
Hasters, Alice. Was weiße Menschen nicht über Rassismus hören wollen (Aber wissen sollten). Hanserblau, 2019.
Oguntoye, Katharina, May Ayim/Opitz, and Dagmar Schultz, eds. Farbe bekennen: Afro-deutsche Frauen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte. Frankfurt/Main, Fischer Verlag, 1986.
Otoo, Sharon Dodua (2016) “‘The Speaker is Using the N-Word’: A Transnational Comparison (Germany-Great Britain) of Resistance to Racism in Everyday Language.” Rassismuskritik und Widerstandsformen. (Inter)national vergleichende Formen von Rassismus und Widerstand, edited by Karim Fereidooni and Meral El. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, July 13, 2016, pp. 291-305.
Sow, Noah. Deutschland Schwarz weiß: der alltägliche Rassismus. München, Goldmann Verlag, 2008.
Weber, Silja, et al. “Decolonizing German Studies Curricula: A Report from the 2019 GSA Seminar.” German Studies Review, 44.1, 2021, pp. 155-166. Younging, Gregory. Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples. Brush Education, 2018.
Dear WiG members, conference panel organizers, and participants,
In collaboration with this year’s conference organizers, the Leadership Team of the Coalition of Women in German is writing to announce that we have decided to hold the 2021 conference virtually again this year. Based on the results of the conference format survey sent out by the conference organizers this spring as well as the uncertainty regarding the ongoing effects of the pandemic, reduced travel budgets, and other related concerns, we believe this to be the most responsible option. Making this difficult decision now will allow us to plan the best conference possible in this format.
The conference organizers will be reaching out to the individual panel organizers today to ask for their input on how they wish to run their sessions online. Once we have received all feedback, we will then begin creating a revised conference schedule. Conference registration information will be available this summer.
Although conference registration and WiG membership will be required to attend the majority of conference events, we aim to offer a reduced registration fee. We also plan to allow members to donate conference registration fees to cover the costs for graduate student and contingent faculty participation.
One positive effect of hosting the conference virtually is that many members who were previously not planning on attending due to cost of travel or prevalence of fall conferences may be able to join us. We welcome all to attend—and look forward to connecting with one another in this way. We also greatly look forward to being able to greet everyone in person again the following year.
If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.
The WiG Leadership Team and the 2021 Conference Committee
In light of recent legislative attacks on LGBTQ+ people, especially trans and nonbinary people, we, the leadership of the Coalition of Women in German, reiterate our full support for the rights of all. We celebrate the vast array of gender identities and sexual orientations in our organization and in our communities.
The Coalition of Women in German was founded to foster a space for people identifying as women in the field of German Studies to gather and share ideas freely within a supportive, feminist community. Today that space has expanded beyond a single gender identity. As so-called TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) have become more vocal, it is crucial for feminist organizations such as WiG to push back against this understanding of what feminism means and who is included. The Coalition of Women in German does not support any feminism that excludes trans and nonbinary people.
WiG also stands adamantly against all recent legislative efforts to curb the rights of LGBTQ+ people. Trans and nonbinary people deserve accessible healthcare at any age. It is absolutely unacceptable to normalize discrimination against trans and nonbinary people and to enshrine it in our laws. By even proposing this legislation, lawmakers deliberately endanger the lives of LGBTQ+ people. The Coalition of Women in German has signed this collective statement in support of trans and nonbinary people. We will not turn our heads to this violence. At our upcoming May leadership meeting we intend to vote on a change to our by-laws that would require us to “evaluate all conference locations with regard to how welcoming and accessible they are to all members of our community.”
As discussed in our community agreement, we recognize the need to evaluate all aspects of our organization to ensure that they align with our values. (For example, it is impossible to write this statement without mentioning the fact that our name, while representing a deeply meaningful and long-standing history, is not as inclusive as it could be.) The leadership of WiG calls on our members to share their thoughts with us about how we can and should take action within our organization to affirm and support both our current members and those who might be members, if they felt more welcomed. Please use the GoogleForm located in the email version of this statement to share any thoughts that you have regarding actions WiG might want to consider moving forward.
Resources on trans and nonbinary people and language in a Germanophone context:
We, the leadership team of the Coalition of Women in German, condemn the horrific murders of eight people in Atlanta on March 16, 2021. This act was motivated by anti-Asian racism, white supremacy, and misogyny. We are frustrated to see news coverage and statements by law enforcement that seek to minimize the hateful foundation out of which these actions arose. We express our deep solidarity with all Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander members of our communities. The violence against these communities has a long history in North America and in Europe that has too often been ignored. This ignorance extended to our own recent community agreement in which we failed to articulate our commitment to anti-Asian racism in the statement of our core values. We have revised this statement so that the final line now reads: “Members’ scholarship and practice aim to address and challenge manifestations of antisemitism, anti-queer, anti-trans, anti-Muslim, xenophobia, classicism, and ableism, as well as anti-Indigenous, anti-immigrant, anti-Roma, anti-Asian, anti-Black and other forms of racism in creative, compassionate, productive, and intersectional ways.”
We promise to live up to these values by using our collective voice to rebuke and act against anti-Asian racism and misogyny however and whenever we can.
Here are some resources for continued education and action:
Weare writing to share the wonderful news that Beverly Weber (University of Colorado Boulder) has been appointed Co-Editor of Feminist German Studies for a three-year term starting in January 2022. Beverly will be joining Alexandra Hill as FGS Co-Editor at the conclusion of Co-Editor Hester Baer’s term. Beverly comes to the position with a strong record of research, publication, and editing experience. The search committee was especially impressed with Beverly’s dedication and leadership within the organization, her vision for the journal, and her demonstrated understanding of the importance of strong feminist mentorship and the role that the journal plays in mentoring scholars at various stages in their lives and careers. Beverly’s commitment to antiracist feminism, decolonization, and social justice as well as her desire to facilitate transdisciplinary conversations across fields will serve the journal well. We are truly honored that Beverly has agreed to accept this position and look forward to seeing the continued rigorous and innovative feminist scholarship that will emerge in the years ahead.
We wish to thank the search committee members for their hard work: Angineh Djavadghazaryans, Carrie Smith, Lisa Hock, Rob McFarland, and Helga Thorson.
In addition to the statement released in WiG’s December 2020 newsletter by the Presidential Team, President Helga Thorson and Vice President Maria Stehle, we, the entire Leadership Team of the Coalition of Women in German want to apologize to all of our members, and particularly to our Black members, for the harm done through the use of racist language during our conference. Such language has no place inside of WiG or within our professional spaces. As the leaders of this organization, we had the power to intervene and we regretfully did not. We should have stepped in right away to address this harm and we failed to do so, thereby normalizing white supremacy and anti-Black racism within the conference and organization.
To our Black members: We are deeply sorry for our inaction during this crucial moment and wish to reiterate how much we value your vital contributions to the organization and profession. We understand that there is nothing we can do to change the hurt caused by this event and that trust can only be earned and healing can only be achieved through continued action. We recognize that we have a lot more work to do in order to be an organization that truly lives up to its own anti-racist, feminist values and are committed to doing and being better in our present and future actions, for which the following community agreement form a point of departure.
Anti-racism, which forms a cornerstone of intersectional feminist activism, requires that all of our members, and especially our white members, join us by committing to do this necessary work within their own spheres of influence.
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