Invited by our own Kye Terrasi as part of the multi-departmental Colloquium on Transcultural Approaches to Europe, Professor Fatima El-Tayeb shared her vital scholarship on Black Europe in a wide-ranging conversation with Nicolaas Barr that drew on her decades of research. The conversation covered what Professor El-Tayeb terms Europe’s “racial amnesia,” which encompasses both a striking absence of public discourse on race in Europe as well as an implicit and often unacknowledged association of non-whiteness with non-Europeanness. Professor El-Tayeb, who was born and raised in Germany, estimated that in Germany she had been asked the question “where are you from?” (implying an origin outside of Germany) more than 1,000 times, and she shared a video clip of Afro-German journalist Jana Pareigis sharing her repeated confrontation with the same question. Against this backdrop of bias and the “othering” of racialized Europeans, Professor El-Tayeb shared the art and activism of countercultural collectives, particularly queer of color organizations, who are challenging the European discourses of exclusion that target racialized populations. These examples included nontraditional cultural texts and alternate archives like graffiti and drag performances that articulate new forms of European identity, shared visions of a different future, as well as different visions of Europe’s past. One line that stuck out to me, and I am paraphrasing here, is that “you remain a prisoner of the past if you don’t reflect on it.”
Many thanks to the many individuals at the university that made this conversation possible!
Please check out our event on Friday, May 14, 2021, 1:30 – 3 p.m. with the Korean-German writer and journalist Miriam Stein. Registration link here.