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Dec 15: Online Guest Lecture “Claiming ‘The Great Black North’ in Contemporary Short Stories from Canada” 🗓

Dec 15: Online Guest Lecture “Claiming ‘The Great Black North’ in Contemporary Short Stories from Canada” 🗓

Claiming ‘The Great Black North’ in Contemporary Short Stories from Canada

Dr. Nele Sawallisch
(Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Germany)

Dec 15, 09:40-11:00, BigBlueButton

Free access:
(BigBlueButton does not require a standalone app and works best on Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. Safari and other browsers can cause technical issues.)

Canada’s popular moniker of “the Great White North” has long exceeded its reference to the land of ice and snow, assuming another metaphorical meaning in the context of the country’s demographic. Despite the adoption of an official policy of multiculturalism in the latter half of the 20th century, to immigrant populations as well as BIPoC in Canada, the country has often proven less than welcoming both in diachronic and synchronic perspectives. This talk therefore considers short fiction by Black Canadian and second-generation Black authors that negotiates the intersections of Blackness, Canada, and belonging. On the one hand, their short stories posit experiences of discrimination and racism as facts in the daily lives of BIPoC in Canada despite its professions of a tolerant multicultural society. On the other hand, the authors also appropriate and claim Canada’s geography to map histories, presents, and futures of a “Great Black North” that “remix[es]” (Mason-John and Cameron 2014) Canada’s story as we know it.

Dr. Nele Sawallisch works as a senior lecturer in American Studies at Catholic University Eichstätt- Ingolstadt, Germany. Her first monograph Fugitive Borders: Black Canadian Cross-Border Literature at Mid-Nineteenth Century (transcript, 2019) discusses community-building processes and genealogies in autobiographical writing by formerly enslaved men from the 1850s in the North American borderland between the United States and Canada.

You can download the poster here.

We are very much looking forward to seeing you (electronically) at the lecture!

Nov 26 – Thanksgiving Obama Lecture, Obama Dissertation Prize & Galinsky Memorial Prize 🗓

Nov 26 – Thanksgiving Obama Lecture, Obama Dissertation Prize & Galinsky Memorial Prize 🗓

Nov. 26, 2020 – 16.15 – 18.00 – BigBlueButton


Come join us online for the annual Thanksgiving Obama Lecture, where we will hear from the Obama Institute’s Executive Board members about the OI’s activities and current research and will award the Obama Dissertation Prizes as well as the Galinsky Prize for outstanding PhD and undergrad work. Each recipient will present their project and we will open a conversation about their work as part of and in relation to the research conducted at the OI.

Please download the flyer here or see below. It includes more information and access details.




Nov 14-21 + Nov 19: On-demand Film Screening + Talk and Q&A with filmmaker Yehuda Sharim (UC Merced) 🗓

Nov 14-21 + Nov 19: On-demand Film Screening + Talk and Q&A with filmmaker Yehuda Sharim (UC Merced) 🗓

Watch Songs That Never End (2019) on-demand
Nov. 14-21 (register on eventbrite)

Talk with filmmaker Yehuda Sharim
Nov. 19, 6 pm CET (on BigBlueButton)


The Obama Institute is hosting a week-long on-demand film screening (Nov 14-21, of Yehuda Sharim’s documentary film Songs that Never End (2019). Part of a trilogy, with Seeds of All Things, Songs that Never End offers a lyrical, poetic, and intimate portrayal of the emotional histories tied to displacement and immigration.

Having fled their home in Iran, the Dayan family is greeted in Houston with hurricanes and perilous politics. Nine-year-old Hana is bold and brilliant and struggles to be heard while her family comes to grips with life in the sprawling Texan metropolis, constantly reaching out to all that is gone but is still here: a hunger for the future, and songs about a kind world.

In addition, the filmmaker has kindly agreed to be available for an online talk and Q&A session (Nov 19, 18:00, about his film.

Come join us and share your questions and thoughts on the film or simply listen to the discussion!

For more details and all links to the event, please see or download the poster here or click on the image below.

Please note: BigBlueButton does not require a standalone app. Please use Firefox or Chrome to access.

Oct 22: Online Talk/Film Screening with Yehuda Sharim (UC Merced) 🗓

Oct 22: Online Talk/Film Screening with Yehuda Sharim (UC Merced) 🗓

“We & We: Cinema of Two”

Oct. 22, 7pm, BigBlueButton

We would very much like to invite you to the virtual guest lecture by Prof. Yehuda Sharim (UC Merced). Prof. Sharim is an accomplished scholar, a professor in film and performance studies, as well as an award-winning film director. His films provide alternative visions on migration, transnational mobility, class and cultural belonging. He will especially speak about and screen excerpts from his recent films, Songs that Never End (2019) and Seeds of All Things (2018).

For more details and the link to the event, please see or download the poster here.

We are very much looking forward to seeing you (electronically) at the lecture!

(BigBlueButton does not require a standalone app and can be run in any browser without registration.)

Fourth of July 2020 at the Obama Institute 🗓

Fourth of July 2020 at the Obama Institute 🗓

Dear Colleagues, Students and Friends of the Obama Institute:

The Corona pandemic has upset all our plans of teaching and research, also a Fourth of July conference with the Fellows of the Obama Institute. The proliferation of COVID-19 has questioned conventional patterns of political decision making and has challenged the constitution not only of democratic societies. It has brought home to us the urgent need of transnational American studies to which the Obama Institute is dedicated.

Thanks to the support of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate and the Johannes Gutenberg University we have established a research platform on the topic of “Disruption and Democracy in America: Challenges and Potentials of Transcultural and Transnational Formations,” which focuses on the rapid changes caused by forced migration, racial violence, ethnic division, health inequalities, and the legacies of social injustice.

Instead of the planned conference we present the following digital platform of documents and references to the research and publications of members of the Obama Institute which address historical and contemporary aspects of the current developments in the United States. This program reflects our strong research record in diversity studies and the implications for the political recognition of under-represented and under-privileged people. It is a selection of many relevant publications which we invite you to look up on our homepage and in the three published volumes of the Obama Institute Annual Report (2017, 2018, 2019). These titles will guide you to previous work done in Mainz American Studies. We will also establish a Forum section on the Obama Institute homepage as a platform for the exchange of opinions in which we can all share. Please subscribe to our mailing list to stay in frequent touch. We look forward to the end of the lockdown and to returning physically to the classroom.

On behalf of the Executive Board of the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies, I would like to wish all of us a Happy Fourth of July Celebration in which we honor the America we teach, research and love.

Alfred Hornung,

Research and Publications

Banerjee, Mita. “A Kaleidoscope of Color or the Agony of Race? Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father.” Journal of Transnational American Studies 10.2 (2019/20).

Ernst, Jutta. “‘What Is Africa to Me?’: Blackness and Transgression in Contemporary African Canadian Poetry.” Transgressions/Transformations: Literature and Beyond. Ed. Brigitte Johanna Glaser and Wolfgang Zach. Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2018. 71-81. Print.

Hornung, Alfred. „#7 Wie steht es um die amerikanische Demokratie?Podcast Denkanstoß Demokratie, Landeszentrale für politische Bildung RLP
Listen on SoundCloud or Spotify.

Obenland, Frank, Nele Sawallisch, Johanna Seibert, and Pia Wiegmink, eds. Special Forum on Transnational Black Politics and Resistance: From Enslavement to Obama. Online Publication of The Journal of Transnational American Studies.
Introduction: Obenland, Frank, Nele Swallisch, and Elizabeth J. West. “Introduction: Transnational Black Politics and Resistance: From Enslavement to Obama: Through the Prism of 1619.”

Scheiding, Oliver. “Nineteenth-Century American Indian Newspapers and the Construction of Sovereignty.” The Cambridge History of Native American Literature.” Ed. Melanie Benson Taylor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020. 89-112. (Text as PDF accessible with JGU login.)

Raphael-Hernandez, Heike and Pia Wiegmink, eds. German Entanglements in Transatlantic Slavery. Special Issue of Atlantic Studies.
Introduction: Raphael-Hernandez, Heike and Pia Wiegmink. “German Entanglements in Transatlantic Slavery: an Introduction.”

Schäfer, Axel. “Inequality, Ethnopolitics, and Social Welfare: U.S. Health Care Reform in the World War I Era.” Ed. Barbara Hahn, Kerstin Schmidt. Inequality in America: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Heidelberg: Winter Verlag, 2017. 57-76. (Text as PDF scan accessible with JGU login.)

Feb 6 – The Legacy of Residential Schools in Native North American Literature and Culture: Pedagogical and Theoretical Considerations 🗓

Feb 6 – The Legacy of Residential Schools in Native North American Literature and Culture: Pedagogical and Theoretical Considerations 🗓

Cristina Stanciu (Virginia Commonwealth University, USA)

Feb 6, 2020
16:15-17:45, P 203 (Philosophicum)

This presentation, part of a new research project on Indigenous writing in the aftermath of residential schools in four settler states, has two interrelated goals: first, to think about the possibilities and limitations of writing/literature about traumatic experiences by residential school survivors and their children in North America in both theoretical and pedagogical terms;  second, to interrogate the politics of settler-colonial uses of images of indigenous children in boarding and residential schools in the US and Canada. Part of a larger settler-colonial project of elimination through education, boarding and residential schools aimed to “kill the Indian and save the man” (US) and to “kill the Indian in the child” (Canada). Of the 150,000 Aboriginal children who attended residential schools in Canada between 1876 and 1996, 6,000 are documented to have died of malnutrition, disease, physical abuse, and suicide. Many others lived to tell their stories, surviving the imprint of what Patrick Wolf has called “total institutions,” and giving voice to that painful history. As early as the 1880s, Native children in US boarding schools were writing for the student papers; twentieth and twenty-first century survivors continued to write about residential schools in genres from autobiography and poetry to drama and the novel. Despite the saturation of “Indian”-inflected images in settler colonial representations, Indigenous and First Nations people in North America are still, for the most part, invisible. As Maori scholar Linda T. Smith has argued, Indigenous communities have struggled for centuries to exercise a fundamental right: “to represent ourselves.” In the last three decades, indigenous artists have engaged in what Michelle Raheja calls visual sovereignty, the creative self-representation of Native artists, turning the archival absence into presence. I end with a case study– The exhibit “the Legacy of Hope,” which traveled to major TRC events, displayed photographic and documentary evidence along with transcribed testimony to raise awareness about the legacy of residential schools nationally. The coherent pictorial and textual narrative of the exhibit—supplementing recorded survivor testimonies, some broadcasted live—tells a story of survival and resilience Besides pointing to a traumatic past—rooted in the loss of family, language, culture, and often hope—they gesture towards re-visioning a national narrative by imagining a resilient future.

Cristina Stanciu is Associate Professor in the Departement of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, USA and Fulbright Scholar 2019-20. Her research interests include Ethnic and immigrant American literatures, American Indian studies, visual culture (esp. silent film), and critical theory.


You can download the poster for the event here.