Intersectional Inclusivity: Race and Ethnicity in Feminist German Studies | Editors’ Introduction
The year 2016 began under the signs of racism, sexism, nationalism, and xenophobia; as day broke on the New Year, it brought with it news of the mass sexual violence that had occurred over night in Cologne and in other German cities, which threw into sharp relief the political, discursive, structural, and everyday formations enabling such attacks. At the same time, however, voices of antiracist, critical feminism grew stronger, bringing with them not only a call for policy changes and better legal protection, but also an intense reminder of the importance of ongoing collective, individual, and personal action at all community levels.
Reminders of the necessity to fight for ongoing political and structural changes while maintaining vigilance in combating both systemic and everyday sexism and racism have continually surfaced throughout the 2016 in Europe and across North America. The events in Cologne are a spectacular reminder of the daily violence occurring against young black men in confrontation with the police in the United States, but also the increasing prominence of Black Lives Matters in changing the way in which we talk about such violence; of the ongoing disappearances of indigenous women and children in Canadian First Nations communities, but also the Liberal government’s commitment to launching a national inquiry in August 2016, thereby acknowledging the ongoing devastation of settler colonialism; of the hate crimes against LGBQT people seen most recently in the June 2016 Orlando shooting, but also the increased public awareness and solidarity around transgender rights; of the xenophobic panic and racist rhetoric leading up to the June 2016 “Brexit” referendum that saw the United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union, but also the presentation of the Ingeborg Bachmann prize to Black British-born author Sharon Dodua Otoo in that same month; or the divisiveness of US politics in the form of the vitriol produced in the lead-up to the election, but also the historic nomination of Hillary Clinton as the first female candidate for president. The capacity of social media to erase the space-time separation of these conversations across national and linguistic borders intensifies the oscillating senses of hopelessness and empowerment in the face of competing modes of violence and historic acts of care seen in these examples.
In this snapshot of moments, we see the absolute urgency of ongoing feminist engagement across all of our communities—personal and academic. Volume 32 of the Yearbook contains a special section entitled “Intersectional Inclusivity: Race and Ethnicity in Feminist German Studies,” which is also augmented by further work featured on the Women in German website. The three online contributions to the special section include a thought piece responding to the Cologne attacks, an interview with Anne Wizorek, and a book review essay. The five contributions in the Yearbook range from traditional analytical articles to thought pieces or essays, which look to the past and to the contemporary period in order to address race in Germany, in German studies, and in Women in German as an organization.
Carrie Smith-Prei and Waltraud Maierhofer