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French Painting And The Nineteenth Century with a Postscript by Alfred Flechtheim

burcu dogramaci
 

James Laver, French Painting And The Nineteenth Century. B.T. Batsford Ltd., 1937, with Alfred Flechtheim’s 'Postscript', pp. 101–114.

  I acquired the book French Painting And The Nineteenth Century, published in London in September 1937, from an online antiquarian bookshop a few months ago. The background to this is an ongoing inquiry into artistic exile in London after 1933 conducted in the course of a research project I have been leading since 2017.[1] I was interested in the volume because it contained the last text by the gallery owner Alfred Flechtheim, who, as a German Jew facing persecution at home, sought refuge in London. This text has received little attention, yet it relates how intensively Flechtheim tried to re-establish his livelihood in the British capital. Perhaps even more striking is how it documents his momentous work for the recognition of nineteenth-century French art. French Painting And The Nineteenth Century is also a dis:connective object: it is connected with and results from Flechtheim's life in exile, but it also points to the fissures of exile and thus to an existence marked by voids and upheavals. At the same time, the book recalls an incomplete memory, one that is also related to exile. For Flechtheim’s disenfranchisement and persecution, the financial decline and destruction of his successful galleries, as well as his emigration, banished his work to oblivion decades. Only with the major exhibition and publication Alfred Flechtheim. Sammler. Kunsthändler in the Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf in 1987 did Flechtheim return to art history. A major provenance research project in 2014, which involved 15 museums, followed the links between items in the collection and the gallerist Alfred Flechtheim.[2] Flechtheim was a successful gallerist, with art spaces in Berlin and Düsseldorf, as well as the publisher of Der Querschnitt magazine. Flechtheim exhibited the most important modern artists of his time, including Rudolf Belling, George Grosz, Oskar Kokoschka, Georg Kolbe, Pablo Picasso, Renée Sintenis and many more. When the National Socialists seized power, Alfred Flechtheim and his company, which was already struggling in the Great Depression, became the target of racist attacks in which he was targeted as a Jew, a cultural Bolshevist and an outstanding patron of the artistic avant-garde.[3] In 1937, the Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) exhibition in Munich not only defamed many of the artists whom Flechtheim represented but also attacked the gallery owner himself in texts displayed throughout the exhibition.[4] Flechtheim had been living abroad since 1933 and worked for the Mayor Gallery at 18 Cork Street in London. Later, he was also the official representative of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler’s Paris gallery. Flechtheim’s aim was to introduce French and German modernism to the London art market and to raise its profile. Paintings by Paul Klee opened in January 1934, and an exhibition on George Grosz followed in June the same year.[5] Although Flechtheim greatly influenced these and other exhibitions at the Mayor Gallery and provided loans, his name remained largely unmentioned.[6] Flechtheim also worked with the Agnew Gallery and was responsible for its new focus on French Impressionism.[7] Other collaborations included the Alex Reid & Lefevre Gallery and The Leicester Galleries. However, his contribution to the acceptance of continental modernism barely registered with the public. In London, Flechtheim − unlike in Düsseldorf and Berlin − could not conduct his business under his gallery name.  

First page of Alfred Flechtheim’s “Postscript” (p. 101) in James Laver’s French Painting And The Nineteenth Century. B.T. Batsford Ltd., 1937.

  In October 1936, Flechtheim organised the Exhibition of Nineteenth Century French Painting at the New Burlington Galleries, which brought together work by Manet, van Gogh and Cézanne. Alfred Flechtheim died in 1937. His body was cremated at Golders Green Crematory in London. Posthumously, the final text he authored appeared in James Laver’s French Painting and The Nineteenth Century.[8] The book is dedicated to Flechtheim: ‘In Memory of ALFRED FLECHTHEIM who died 9th March 1937 “Marchand de Tableaux Créateur”.’ The book brings together many of the paintings shown at the Exhibition of Nineteenth Century French Painting. Flechtheim himself selected many of the images and edited the texts. In his postscript, he describes how he organised the exhibition at the New Burlington Galleries and why he always championed French art. His text formulates a credo that can be read as a reflection of his situation as an exiled art dealer and as a pacifist statement on the political situation:
Art need be none the worse for being national or provincial, but really great art soars above racial frontiers and belongs to the world. [...] Such an art, to borrow J.B. Manson's words, ‘can be understood with few exceptions by the whole world. It affords a common meeting ground, and transcends all those considerations of imperialism and politics which are the cause of international strife and ill will.’[9]
 

Gerty Simon, Portrait of Alfred Flechtheim, London, c. 1935 (The Bernard Simon Estate, Wiener Holocaust Library Collections).

  From the book French Painting And The Nineteenth Century, further connections lead, for example, to the exhibition 20th Century German Art, which also took place in 1938 at the New Burlington Galleries in London and was organised in reaction to the National Socialist Entartete Kunst exhibition. Another connection points to the photographer Gerty Simon, for whom Flechtheim curated a solo exhibition at the Camera Club. This exhibition Camera Portraits featured 58 portraits. The exhibition also included a portrait of Flechtheim. Simon photographed Flechtheim around 1935, during the period of his professional re-emergence in London, which brought him into contact with leading galleries in the city. The portrait continues a traditional convention. As early as the 1920s, Flechtheim was portrayed in severe profile by Hugo Erfurth and Frieda Riess. Flechtheim’s striking features, with his distinctive nose and hair combed back severely from his face, were similarly emphasised in Rudolf Belling’s Portrait Alfred Flechtheim (1927). Gerty Simon’s photograph shows the art dealer in the approved side view. The face is brightly lit and stands out against the dark background. The picture is tightly cropped and focused entirely on the head. The dark circles around the eyes and the clouded eyelids give the subject a melancholy expression. Simon's photograph of Flechtheim and the book French Painting And The Nineteenth Century are important sources for reconstructing the gallery owner’s activities and professional networks in London. French Painting And The Nineteenth Century provides insights into the artistic taste, aesthetic preferences and persuasions of the gallerist: ‘The final choice of the illustrations, and much of the editorial work on the book were undertaken by the late Alfred Flechtheim, whose enthusiasm was a stimulus to all concerned in its production’. Flechtheim selected what was available to him from English and other private collectors and museums; in this respect, one can speak of an immediate reaction to the available opportunities or of a canon in the sign of exile.   [1] Specifically, the ERC Consolidator Grant research project ‘Relocating Modernism: Global Metropolises, Modern Art and Exile (METROMOD)’. [2] Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, ‘Alfred Flechtheim. Kunsthaendler der Avantgarde’, Alfred Flechtheim. Kunsthaendler der Avantgarde, 29 March 2022, http://alfredflechtheim.com. [3] Cordula Frowein, ‘Alfred Flechtheim im Exil in England’, in Alfred Flechtheim. Sammler. Kunsthändler. Verleger (Duesseldorf: Kunstmuseum Duesseldorf, 1987), 59. [4] Ottfried Dascher, “Es ist was Wahnsinniges mit der Kunst”. Alfred Flechtheim. Sammler, Kunsthändler, Verleger, Quellenstudie zur Kunst 6 (Waedenswil: Nimbus. Kunst und Buecher AG, 2011), 394. [5] Frowein, ‘Alfred Flechtheim im Exil in England’, 60. [6] Dascher, “Es ist was Wahnsinniges mit der Kunst”. Alfred Flechtheim. Sammler, Kunsthändler, Verleger, 331. [7] Frowein, ‘Alfred Flechtheim im Exil in England’, 61. [8] Alfred Flechtheim, ‘Postscript’, in French Painting And The Nineteenth Century, ed. James Laver (London: B.T. Batsford Ltd., 1937), 101–14. [9] Flechtheim, 114.

bibliography
Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen. ‘Alfred Flechtheim. Kunsthaendler der Avantgarde’. Alfred Flechtheim. Kunsthaendler der Avantgarde, 29 March 2022. http://alfredflechtheim.com. Dascher, Ottfried. “Es ist was Wahnsinniges mit der Kunst”. Alfred Flechtheim. Sammler, Kunsthändler, Verleger. Quellenstudie zur Kunst 6. Waedenswil: Nimbus. Kunst und Buecher AG, 2011. Flechtheim, Alfred. ‘Postscript’. In French Painting And The Nineteenth Century, edited by James Laver, 101–14. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd., 1937. Frowein, Cordula. ‘Alfred Flechtheim im Exil in England’. In Alfred Flechtheim. Sammler. Kunsthändler. Verleger, 59–64. Duesseldorf: Kunstmuseum Duesseldorf, 1987.  
citation information:
Dogramaci, Burcu, 'French Painting And The Nineteenth Century with a Postscript by Alfred Flechtheim', Ben Kamis ed. global dis:connect blog. global dis:connect, 11 June 2024, https://www.globaldisconnect.org/08/02/french-painting-and-the-nineteenth-century-with-a-postscript-by-alfred-flechtheim/.
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The people who make global dis:connect happen – part II

This post is a continuation of the last, where we began introducing the research assistants who greatly lighten the load of running this place, leaving us with more time and joy for which we are immeasurably grateful.
 

dogukan

What do you research, and what attracts you to the topic? My academic interests are broad, ranging from history, German and English to pedagogy, but I enjoy working on ancient history the most. My research focuses on the history of the everyday and social history of the Roman Empire in late antiquity. So far, I have worked on the communicative power of clothing, fashion and outward appearance in Roman life and on the spread of Christianity through Sicily in late antiquity. I really enjoy this subfield, as I get to explore the details that formed ancient people’s identity and to some extent bridge the gap to people who seem so far away from today’s reality.   What tasks do you handle at global dis:connect, and what do you enjoy the most? Apart from assisting our fellows and team members, I savor working in gd:c’s  dissemination efforts as a content creator and PR advisor for social media. My biggest passion and best capability is loving things of any kind deeply and, most importantly, sharing the things I love deeply with other people. At gd:c I get to share the very essence of our institute via words, photographs and videos, which I cherish.   What’s your credo and why? Per aspera ad astra. An ancient saying my beloved and very inspiring Latin teacher taught me. It reminds me what I am capable of and where I can go — ad astra. At the same time, it expresses what you have to go through to get to the stars — per aspera. Work hard and truly believe in your yourself to overcome any limit. It might be cheesy, but it has proven to be true.    

leonie

What tasks do you handle at global dis:connect, and what do you enjoy the most? At global dis:connect, my responsibilities primarily revolve around supporting the planning and execution of events, which involves tasks like coordinating logistics, managing communications and ensuring everything runs smoothly on the day of the event. What I find most enjoyable is the opportunity to work closely with a team, brainstorming ideas, problem-solving together and ultimately seeing our efforts come to life in successful events.   Would you like to have photographic memory and why? Having a photographic memory would indeed be advantageous, especially for tasks like rapidly absorbing and synthesising a lot of literature, which would be incredibly useful for my upcoming bachelor's thesis. Additionally, having instant-recall abilities would make me the ultimate walking encyclopaedia ready to amaze everyone with facts at any given moment!   Who is your favourite character from a novel or film and why? Treebeard from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. As one of the Ents, guardians of the forests, Treebeard personifies nature's voice and symbolises resistance against the destructive forces of human evil. While he seems too slow and deliberate in the beginning to achieve anything, he later transforms into a leader determined to save Middle Earth. I also love his deep understanding of the world and its history. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1njDtvLIoA

simon

What tasks do you handle at global dis:connect, and what do you enjoy the most? At global dis:connect, my primary duty is to design posters and flyers for our workshops. Additionally, I plan and assist with the preparation of these events. What I find most enjoyable is the opportunity to meet fascinating new people during these occasions as well as the creative freedom I have when designing.   What do you define as home and why? My home isn't a physical location, but a place where my friends and family are. It's a place where I feel at ease, can enjoy wonderful experiences and where time seems to fly by.   What’s your credo and why? My credo in life is that everything will unfold as it's supposed to. There's no need to overthink things because life has a plan for each of us, regardless of whether we worry or not.      

theresa

What aspects of the research at global dis:connect pique your curiosity and how does it overlap with your research? While globalisation in general is a topic I am extremely interested in, I am especially passionate about migration processes and their impact. Colonisation, the migration connected to it and their effects on society are core topics at global dis:connect, and the impact in particular on past and contemporary literature is a topic I am really interested in.   What do you define as home and why? To me, home is less a specific place than a feeling thaf is mostly connected to people I feel really comfortable with. Whether it‘s going out and having a couple of drinks, travelling to new countries or just hanging out at home talking about live and joking around, my home is wherever my favourite humans are.   Who is your favourite character from a novel or film and why? My favourite fictional character would have to be Chandler Bing from the TV show Friends, maybe just because no other person has ever made laugh as hard and feel incredibly connected to them at the same time. His self-deprecating humour and his use of sarcastic comments at every possible opportunity have taught me that it‘s incredibly important not to take life too seriously.   Continue Reading

The people who make global dis:connect happen

[Editor's note: Our Käte Hamburger Research Centre global dis:connect began 3 years ago, and we've come a long way since then. Like the bedrock on which great buildings rest or the air that keeps a jumbo jet in flight, one of the principal forces behind our success is invisible: the people who perform the countless tasks required to keep a major international research institution afloat. Perhaps least visible are the research assistants who run the events, fetch the literature, support the research and keep the experienced researchers on their toes. Indeed, their invisibility is a sign of how well they do their job. So in a few coming posts, we'll be profiling some of the people behind our public-facing work, and we're starting with the invaluable research assistants — nine promising young scholars with bright futures and big ideas. We provided them with a list of questions and asked them to each answer three to give you a better idea of who we are and how we do what we do.)

Clemens

What aspects of the research at global dis:connect pique your curiosity and how does it overlap with your research?

I am interested in exploring different historical perceptions of globality. Therefore, it is especially inspiring to see how the research projects conducted at gd:c interpret the ‘gap’ between dis-connection and connectivity differently, each providing a deeper understanding of how processes of interaction work, not only on a global scale.

  What tasks do you handle at global dis:connect, and what do you enjoy the most? As a student assistant, you get exposed to a variety of tasks. I particularly enjoy assisting with research and conferences, which are a great opportunity to welcome people from around the world to gd:c.   What do you define as home and why? Anywhere with enough books (they don’t even have to be great ones), coffee and good company to spend the day. I have always been fascinated by stories of all kinds.   Bonus question: what do you research, and what attracts you to the topic? I’ve covered various periods, spaces and topics during my studies at LMU. I am currently researching scientific endeavours in the Arctic and Antarctic during the 19th century as part of my master's degree. What is fascinating about the polar regions is that while being imagined as most remote and uninhabitable spaces, they are at the same time (literally) central to the earth and our modern understanding of it as a global system, rendering them highly dis:connective.

Daniel

What do you research, and what attracts you to the topic? I am researching the connection between art and outer space. The manifold intentions, types of communication, projects and the very literal dis:connectivity that this topic have to offer are exciting.   Would you like to have photographic memory and why? Absolutely not! It would certainly be beneficial to hold trivia and lovely memories in your mind forever. However, I also imagine that abstract thinking can be neglected as a result and that certain memories can often take an emotional toll on you.   Who is your favourite character from a novel or film and why? The future king of the pirates — Monkey D. Luffy from the anime series One Piece. Some anime are masterful cultural treasures with fantastic stories and rich characters. The series is older than I am but not yet finished, so Luffy has not only accompanied me for a lifetime but has always put a smile on my face with his cheerfulness and steadfastness throughout his journey. https://youtu.be/rvoUeOgsh3I

Felix

What tasks do you handle at global dis:connect, and what do you enjoy the most?

Soon after I started working at gd:c, I developed a video trailer with Christian Steinau to convey dis:connectivity in multimedia and set up the gd:c YouTube channel. I now responsible produce our Fellows Close Up series for YouTube support the workshops and events. My favourite part is meeting such a wide variety of people from all over the globe with very different backgrounds and all the new perspectives I gain through getting to know them and the inspiring conversations I have with them.

  What do you define as home and why?

Multiple places can make me feel ‘at home’, meaning cared for, free, safe, peaceful and happy. Home can be every beautiful mountain ridge, lakeside and beach where I can create beautiful memories with someone I love. Home is not a physical place but a mental state. Home is where the people live that are family to me.

  What skill would you like to learn and why? I would like to be able to read minds, even though I definitely don´t want to know most of other people’s thoughts. Still, I´d like to know and understand, what is going on in their minds. Also, as a writer of fiction, I see people in my daily life sometimes, and I think about what their story could be – wouldn’t it be interesting to know if stories I imagine come close to reality?  

Peter

What do you research, and what attracts you to the topic? I have a keen interest in global history, particularly in global art history. My research thus far has focused on significant global exhibition platforms such as the documenta in Kassel and the Venice Biennale. I find that art serves as a vital medium for dealing with and expressing current, future and past processes of globalisation through imagination. Exploring questions about the effects, constitutions and methodologies of globalisation as well as art’s role in it, intrigues me deeply because it links my personal interests with important contemporary issues.   Who is your favourite character from a novel or film and why? It's Ulysses because he has accompanied me since my childhood. His superpower is not divine strength or invulnerability, but his cunning and smartness, which make him an amiable hero.   What skill would you like to learn and why? It would be wonderful to speak every language in the world. Imagine the ease of understanding different cultures, making friends and feeling at home wherever you go!      

Sophia

What do you research and what attracts you to the topic? I'm researching theatre theories, and I really like them because they try to theorise something as complex as a theatre situation and performance. Theatre is also such a lively subject, but I love reading about it and thinking about all the possibilities and ideas that are possible with it.   What aspects of the research at global dis:connect pique your curiosity and how does it overlap with your research? Theatre is also a global phenomenon, and theories about theatre, especially outside the European context, are very interesting and sometimes not really well researched. I really enjoyed Nic Leonhardt's and Anna Heller’s Workshop Stages of Performing in Pahlavi Iran (1925-1979), learning so much about Iranian theatre.   Would you like to have a photographic memory and why? No, I don't want to have a photographic memory, because forgetting some things, but also keeping good memories, is a natural part of life. I would also like to enjoy some plays repeatedly. So I'd like to be able to enjoy them each time without knowing exactly what changed from one viewing to the next. Continue Reading

The uses of race: dis:connective perspectives

christopher balme
 

‘While, biologically speaking, the idea of individual human races with different origins is as farcical as the medieval belief that elves cause hiccups, the social reality of race is undeniable’. Henry Louis Gates Jr.[1]

Fig. 1: 7. A mid-19th century illustration of Blumenbach’s five-part taxonomy with the addition of colour terminology. Note that the category ‘Caucasian’ extends well into the Indian subcontinent. Note also the spelling of the word Race in German. (Source: Johann Georg Heck, Bilder-Atlas zum Conversations-Lexikon: Ikonographische Encyklopädie der Wissenschaften und Künste. Vol.1. Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1849, plate 43).

  The US Supreme Court decision to severely restrict affirmative action at two US universities generated strong reactions in the US. It was also widely reported in German media.[2] The core question was summarised in the ruling: ‘Admission to each school can depend on a student’s grades, recommendation letters, or extracurric­ular involvement. It can also depend on their race’.[3] But how do you render the most important concept in the ruling – race – when the most appropriate German word, Rasse, is verboten? It is the ‘R word’ in German. How do you report on a ruling containing ‘race’ in various permutations – race-conscious, race-sensitive, etc.­ – over 800 times? You find approximations, which always mean something different. The Süddeutsche Zeitung opted for ‘skin colour’ (Hautfarbe), another paper used ‘Abstammung[4] and a third (Spiegel Online) proposed Ethnizität.[5] So, depending on the paper you were reading, the ruling addressed admission practices that considered either skin colour, ancestry or ethnicity. The terms are different, but they are linked by putative biological determinants pertaining to applicants but beyond their control. For German readers unfamiliar with US universities, it sounded odd that skin colour was a criterion for admittance to one of the world’s most famous universities. My interest is less in the ruling than in looking at the word race from a dis:connective perspective. Although advocates of the term claim it is a ‘global concept’, it is in fact being kept alive by  Anglosphere scholars and activists responding to local contexts.[6] Globalisation does not just apply to transport, trade and economics but also to concepts. The refusal of the German-language media to use the German word for race indicates significant differences. Is it not time to consign the English word race to the dustbin of our vocabulary, as is the case in German? Or is the German objection to its version an outlier explicable through its history, which needs to be realigned with US American usage? At a time when discriminatory language is so rifely policed, why is race still in circulation? The latter question has become the leitmotif of all critiques of the concept.[7] So why again? Put simply, race is also a problem of language use: it exists primarily in the speech act. Or, to paraphrase Henry Louis Gates, while the concept of race might be from the land of fairy tales, its uses create realities. This essay is divided into three sections: firstly, a brief review of the state of the art in both languages. In part two, we will see how the word has largely disappeared from German. The third part of my paper will analyse language use, contrasting the performativity of the word in both languages. I propose a new linguistic category – affectives – to designate its function. Affectives are a special category of stand-alone words that have the force of speech acts without being embedded in propositional structures, like race and Rasse.

The paradox of race

The paradox of the race concept dates at least to the 1940s. Put simply, and citing evolutionary biologist, David Reich: ‘In 1942, the anthropologist Ashley Montagu wrote Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race, arguing that race is a social concept and has no biological reality, and setting the tone for how anthropologists and many biologists have discussed this issue ever since’.[8] A similar critique was, however, published four years earlier by Magnus Hirschfeld in his book, Racism, which, although written in German, was first published in English and represents, if not the earliest, certainly the first thorough discussion of the term racism, which, deconstructs the biological precepts underlying race.[9] Despite this lack of ‘biological reality’, the word continued to be used in everyday speech, official documents, censuses and opinion polls. Henry Louis Gates revisited the paradox in 2022 in an op-ed for the New York Times entitled We Need a New Language for Talking About Race. Gates and his co-author Andrew S. Curran begin with an anecdote from the classroom:
The other day, while teaching a lecture class, one of us mentioned in passing that the average African American, according to a 2014 paper, is about 24 percent European and less than 1 percent Native American. A student responded that these percentages were impossible to measure, since ‘race is a social construction’.[10]  
They continue: ‘the fact that race is a social invention and not a biological reality cannot be repeated too much. However, while race is socially constructed, genetic mutations — biological records of ancestry — are not, and the distinction is a crucial one.’[11] Neither Gates and Curran, nor the authors of the article mentioned use the term race, the student just assumed that is what they were talking about.[12] Their call for a new language of ‘race’ is predicated on the term ancestry – a shared genetic history that should be ‘taught in our classrooms’. I want to remain with the student’s phrase ‘race is a social construction’ as it is the standard definition of race today. To resolve the paradox between a discredited biological definition and a mainstream culturalist understanding of the term, I asked Chat GPT what it/they thought about the paradox. The answer was characteristically nuanced:
The concept of "race" has been discredited as a biological concept, but it still persists as a social construct with profound implications for people's lives and experiences. The term "race" is still widely used because it continues to be a powerful tool for social categorization and for understanding and explaining social inequalities and power relations. [13]  
In other words, continued use of ‘racial’ categories and race to differentiate and discriminate  gives meaning to people’s identities. To understand how this use is itself aporetic, we need only look at the US Supreme Court ruling cited above. The court ruled on an action brought by the Students for Fair Admissions, Inc., which claimed that ‘race-based’ admissions policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina contravened the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the US constitution. The ruling accentuates the aporetic nature of race/racial wittingly and unwittingly. Wittingly, in the passages detailing the imprecision and contradictions in the universities’ classifications:
the universities measure the racial composition of their classes using the following categories: (1) Asian; (2) Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander; (3) Hispanic; (4) White; (5) African-American; and (6) Native American. (…) the categories are themselves imprecise in many ways. Some of them are plainly overbroad: by grouping together all Asian students, for instance, respondents are apparently uninterested in whether South Asian or East Asian students are adequately represented, so long as there is enough of one to compensate for a lack of the other. Meanwhile other racial categories, such as ‘Hispanic,’ are arbitrary or undefined.[14]  
But the judgement also appears unwitting, applying the central term race over 800 times without defining it.[15] Both the universities and the chief author of the ruling, Justice Roberts, apply the same arbitrary principle. Roberts reproaches the universities for using ill-defined taxonomic criteria: ‘The universities’ main response to these criticisms is, essentially, “trust us”’. This amounts to ‘I know it when I see it’ applied to race.[16] However, Roberts never questions the concept itself, only the subclassifications applied by the universities. Perhaps a more granular application of categories might have strengthened their case or, conversely, invalidated the classification system when too many subcategories were adjudicated. How would one distinguish South Asians from East Asians? There is a conflation of definiendum and definiens. There exists something called ‘race’, which is a category that universities should not apply when admitting students, but it needs no definition. This ruling is symptomatic of the state of affairs in the anglophone world, in which the USA is perhaps most attached to the term, but it is applied throughout Anglosphere with little awareness of its paradoxical nature. In the UK, the term ‘ethnicity’ has largely replaced ‘race’ as the preferred term of differentiation. For example, when applying for a job, applicants are often requested to note their ethnic affiliations. While ethnicity is certainly more differentiated than ‘race’ (Harvard identifies six ‘races’), in its application it encounters the same problems as the latter as an administrative and bureaucratic category. In order to give up the use of ‘race’ like smoking, we need to turn to Germany, which has almost kicked the habit.

The return of Rasse

The German word for race, Rasse, has largely disappeared from public discourse, except in reference to animals where it means breed (Fig.2). No official document will ever ask about your Rasse, but certainly your religion, marital status and nationality (and your ‘migration background’, a euphemism for non-German descent). This disappearance is not linked to any significant semantic differences; in fact, race and Rasse both derive from the French term race. The difference between use and reference matters here. As a historical term it is acceptable when used retrospectively (say for the Nazi period or South Africa under Apartheid). But on its own, Rasse has become a ‘pejorative fiction’, a term that has ‘null extensionality’, that lacks an empirical referent.[17] German-speakers once thought Rassen to exist, like dragons and unicorns, but the category has fallen out of reality.

Fig. 2: Decline in the use of the word Rasse in German-language books. Source: Google ngram.

The disappearance of Rasse has not been adequately described sociolinguistically, but the reasons are obvious. It is now a pejorative term; it is a ‘bad word’. This sometimes confounds anglophones when translating race with Rasse, as suggested by a policy paper by the German Institute for Human Rights (GIHR): ‘Und welcher Rasse gehörst du an’? It also leads to the situation described above when German newspapers scrambled for ‘good’ words to report on the US Supreme Court ruling. This disappearance was not decreed by the government but rather results from disuse. Consequently, the German Institute for Human Rights has sought to get the word removed from the German constitution and some other laws. The German Grundgesetz (Basic Law) is the most prominent law that retains the word. Article 3(3) reads: ‘No person shall be favoured or disfavoured because of sex, parentage, race, language, homeland and origin, faith or religious or political opinions’.[18] According to the GIHR, this ‘leads to an unresolvable contradiction’:
according to the current wording of the article, in the case of racial discrimination, those affected must claim to have been discriminated against on the basis of their ‘race’; they must virtually classify themselves as belonging to a certain ‘race’ and are thus forced to use racist terminology. (…) even though the term "race" is not open to any reasonable interpretation. Nor can it be, since any theory based on the existence of different human "races" is inherently racist.[19]  
The last days of the previous grand coalition (2018-2021) saw an attempt to change the wording through a cross-coalition alliance and replace Rasse with racism, but the Christian Democrats prevented it, claiming they needed ‘more time’ to think.[20] Debate was framed by a discussion that produced an unusual coalition between lukewarm Christian Democrats, an emphatically opposed alt-right party and the ‘progressive’ left. Most puzzling is the agreement between the left and extreme right. An example of the ‘progressive’ argument was published by two young legal scholars, Cengiz Barskanmaz from the Max Planck Institute for Anthropology in Halle and Nahed Samour, from the Humboldt University in Berlin:
It is only through such a term [Rasse] that racism, i.e. discrimination on the basis of race, becomes nameable and addressable. The legal concept of race is a necessary instrument to be able to address racism (including anti-Semitism) in terms of anti-discrimination law [...] Erasing the term negates historical and contemporary inequalities and risks trivialising them. […] This approach is part of Critical Race Theory, which is precisely a response to white jurisprudence […]. Black legal scholars demand race as a central category of analysis.[21]  
The authors argue that the concept of race is not only a legal term but is an important ‘global concept’ in the social sciences – a concept that in turn is used by jurisprudence.  The authors resist attempts to ‘blur’ the distinction between ‘race’ and ‘racism’:
Race is in the world, the socialisation of us all, the perception of this world, is racialised. Race does not exist, but it has an effect. […] It would seem grotesque if, after the murder of George Floyd, we told our US colleagues that our lesson was to erase the discriminatory factor of race.[22]  
So Germany should retain Rasse, at least in its legal documents, perhaps elsewhere, as a Mahnmal (memorial) to its history and to show solidarity with US colleagues. Ultimately, they argue for a stronger, more prominent representation of the word Rasse, which implies reintroducing it into public discourse. Perhaps the key lies in these somewhat contradictory sentences: ‘Race is in the world, the socialisation of us all, the perception of this world, is racialised’ and ‘Race does not exist, but it has an effect’. In English the first sentence is unremarkable: ‘The perception of this world is racialised’. This is a standard statement of the ‘race is a social construct’ tradition. In German, however, the word rassialisiert creates a different effect. It sounds simultaneously neologistic – not (yet) part of everyday German usage[23] – and anachronistically Nazi, as the Nazis created many compound words based on Rasse, which are today all pejorative. Its use in this text signals an attempt to introduce Critical Race Theory vocabulary into the German context, though its effect is either incomprehension or resistance. After decades of ‘re-education’, which involved ridding German of Nazi vocabulary, it is challenging for many Germans to understand that Critical Race Theory advocates reactivating racial thinking and even resegregation in some institutional contexts.[24] The second sentence – ‘Race does not exist, but it has an effect’ – is paradoxical. To make sense of it, we need the philosophy of language.

Affectives

‘the meaning of a word is its use in the language’ (Wittgenstein, §43 Philosophical Investigations)[25]

J.L. Austin’s How to Do Things with Words is among the most influential philosophical texts of the 20th century. My argument is indebted to Austin, not because the words race or Rasse are performatives but because Austin’s approach to language can help understand the paradox before us. This section asks what happens to a word when, on the one hand, embarrassment leads to its disuse, and on the other, it is used excessively despite an atrophied conceptual and scientific meaning. I argue that the word in both languages has the same status; it has become an ‘affective’. Similar to Austin’s performatives, affectives are words that generate emotions. They are usually nouns, sometimes adjectives, seldom verbs. Their mere enunciation, often without the contextualisation of a sentence, can evoke strong emotions, focus administrative minds and even influence politics. In their stand-alone power, their emotional effect outweighs the semantic aspect. Yet there is no grammatical description of such words. According to linguistic philosophy, affectives would belong to the category of ‘expressives’: words or statements that convey speakers’ attitudes to a referent. Affectives have perlocutionary force. Austin divides any speech act into three parts: locution (its meaning); illocution (the execution of an action by uttering the sentence); and perlocution ‘the achieving of certain effects by saying something’.[26] Affectives are primarily perlocutionary because, in the case of race for example, the locutionary meaning is so unstable. While affective as a noun is new, the class of words is not, even though they seem to be proliferating. Examples of old affectives include blood, popery, liberty, fascism and communism. New affectives might include globalisation, neoliberal and capitalism – the list is dynamic. It changes as words gain and lose emotive power. Censors have long implicitly recognised affectives’ power in their lists of proscribed words.[27] The growing number of one-letter words – the n-word, the p-word and I would like to add the r-word – testify to affectives’ growing importance. One-letter words are extreme examples, words that dare not speak their names. And while all slurs are affectives, not all affectives are slurs.[28] Affectives can necessarily stand alone. Just enunciating the word by itself will usually create its effect. Hence, they are closer to expletives than performatives, which require a sentence and the right conditions to function. While one expects to encounter affectives in political contexts, a recent development that interests me in the discussion of race, is the use of affectives in scholarly-academic discourse, where they often masquerade as concepts. Or, more accurately, in academic contexts many terms are transitioning from concepts to affectives. A word like colonialism has reasonably clear conceptual boundaries for historians, but it is increasingly an affective among scholars. The same applies to capitalism: in certain contexts, its enunciation generates an affective, negative response. There is also a trend towards double affectives to generate additional emotive power. An example would be the current use of racial capitalism or settler colonialism. These terms, because they are relatively new, have emerging conceptual boundaries. They are serious academic concepts but are increasingly used also as affectives to signal a history of injustice. Affectives position the user in a particular ideological context and often nudge the addressee to conform by force of emotive appeal or the desire to join a scholarly community. Affectives can also happily accommodate antithetical meanings. The epithet socialist as a noun or adjective can be a badge of honour, especially for a British academic, while it functions as an invective in most US political contexts. What links the extremes is the word’s affective appeal. The German Rasse is an affective whose enunciation can cause discomfort, even embarrassment, rather than anger or outrage (the default affect of our times). As soon as a suffix or prefix is added, the word loses some affective force. Rassis-mus or Rassen-politik are not affectives because they contain a level of observation or abstraction than weakens the affective charge. While Rasse is clearly an affective, race is still in transition. However, I argue that, while it is residually a concept in its redefinition as a social construct, race is used increasingly as an affective. This derives from its almost total synonymity with racism. As the 2021 Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities in the UK makes clear, a discussion of the ‘language of race’, a subheading in the report, is in fact a discussion of racism; the two terms are used interchangeably.[29] The granular analysis of social disparities in the report pinpoints ethnic not ‘racial’ categories, distinguishing Black African, Black Caribbean, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi ‘ethnicities’ (and white ethnicities as well). The report also uses the qualifiers racial and ethnic interchangeably until they become synonyms. Even the title itself is ambiguous: is race a qualifier of disparities or is it a separate topic next to ethnic disparities? In this title race functions as an affective, while ethnic disparities constitute a proposition.

Fig. 3: Cover of Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities.

In academia, race usually references racism and discrimination. ‘It’s all about race’ is a statement where the noun is an affective. The referent is, however, probably racism and discrimination, not the outdated taxonomic theory of differentiating the human species. However, the latter, the biological residue, as Stuart Hall argued, clings to the new meaning. The semantic instability of race is counteracted by its emotive signalling. Affectives are thus dynamic, gaining and losing emotive charge over time. Within the category of affectives, race, unlike Rasse, is still a dual-use word, emotive and conceptual, whereby the conceptual aspect is paralysed by the paradox, as the underlying taxonomy has been discredited and the categories to which it ostensibly refers appear increasingly unfit for purpose. If analysing disparities in income, education or health outcomes is the object, then differentiation by ethnicity is the more precise analytical tool. But are affectives speech acts? No and yes. In the precise technical sense defined by Austin and expanded by Searle, probably not because they lack the illocutionary component which depends on verbs. Affectives are speech acts, not in the individual utterance, but through the force of repetition. Paraphrasing John Searle: The aim is not to represent reality but to change reality by getting reality to match the content of the speech act, the representation.[30] The classic performative does this simply by uttering the right combination of words within a correct set of conventions. Through repetition affectives can achieve similar perlocutionary effects. There are no such things as human races, plural, but uttering race enough times and with enough emotive force can will them back into existence. It is not that we know races when we see them, but we reify them by saying them.

Conclusion

The decline of race as a scientific-biological concept and its re-emergence as a social construct in the Anglosphere means that the latter understanding of the term is currently received wisdom. The word’s semantic contradictions were adumbrated by Stuart Hall to the point where he suggests, in jest, to give up the term like smoking. This suggestion is no laughing matter in Germany where the word Rasse has largely disappeared from public discourse because it is intuitively recognised as a proscribed term. Its advocates reside at opposite ends of the political spectrum, where anti-racist activists and right-wing conservatives both support the word’s retention in the German constitution, where it is rather an embarrassment. The struggle over antithetical meaning(s) should end in semantic exhaustion, but this is not the case. Race is being used more than ever in the Anglosphere. Part of this ‘success story’ is due to sheer repetition; by using the word, we don’t just naturalise it, we enable its continuing existence. However, today its use is primarily affective, not conceptual. Comparing race and Rasse demonstrates that, although the words are etymological siblings, their affective power is antithetical. In English race is on the one extreme a mobilising call for resegregation (‘embrace race’); in German the word is unequivocally pejorative. Such terms belong to a category termed here affectives. These words have the force of speech acts in their ability as stand-alone terms to generate emotions and even create communities of adherents and opponents. While affectives have always been used in politics from placards to pamphlets to censorship, the new situation is in academic discourse, where affect is rivalling or even displacing concept. When scholars write race, they are usually referencing discrimination, in which case racism is more precise. Using race in any other context is probably for affective, not analytical purposes. Race naturalises racism because it reasserts the word’s biological traces.   [1] Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Andrew Curran, 'We Need a New Language for Talking About Race', The New York Times (New York) 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/03/opinion/sunday/talking-about-race.html. [2] Fabian Fellmann, 'Historisches Urteil des Supreme Court', Süddeutsche Zeitung (Munich) 2023, 1. [3] Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, No. 20-1199 1 (US District Court for the District of Massachusetts 29 June, 2023). [4] 'US-Supreme Court lehnt positive Diskriminierung an Unis ab', Austria Presse Agentur (Vienna), 30 June 2023, https://science.apa.at/power-search/14090665902102260545. [5] Sven Scharf, 'Supreme Court untersagt Studentenauswahl anhand von Hautfarbe – und das sind die Folgen', Der Spiegel, 30 June 2023, https://www.spiegel.de/ausland/affirmative-action-supreme-court-urteil-zur-studierendenauswahl-in-den-usa-der-ueberblick-a-890969d3-6a7b-4cb6-bb91-fde0513c9f87. [6] The claim that ‘race’ is a ‘global concept’ is made, for example by German legal scholars Cengiz Barskanmaz, and Nahed Samour in their article Cengiz Barskanmaz and Nahed Samour, 'Das Diskriminierungs­verbot aufgrund der Rasse', Maximilian Steinbeis ed. Verfassungsblog: On Matters Constitutional, Max Steinbeis Verfassungsblog gGmbH, 16 June 2020, https://doi.org/10.17176/20200616-124155-0, https://verfassungsblog.de/das-diskriminierungsverbot-aufgrund-der-rasse/. [7] The history of the term ‘race’ has been written many times and most accounts reach similar conclusions. From isolated usage in European languages in the early modern period, the term solidifies into a ‘scientific’ taxonomy of the human species in the mid-18th century. For recent accounts, see George M. Fredrickson, Racism: A Short History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002); Michael Keevak, Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011). 'Theories of Race: An annotated anthology of essays on race, 1684-1900', 2023, https://www.theoriesofrace.com/. The most influential of the late-18th century taxonomies is that proposed by the German physical anthropologist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach in his 1775 dissertation, De Generis Humani Varietate, which he continued to revise until the 1790s, when it was finally translated into German and other languages. Blumenbach proposed the five-part taxonomy Caucasian, Ethiopian, Mongolian, American, Malay that continues to be used today, although with a somewhat different nomenclature. [8] David Reich, Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past (New York: Pantheon Books, 2018), 249. [9] Magnus Hirschfeld, Racism, ed. and trans. Eden Paul and Cedar Paul (London: Victor Gollancz, 1938). Hirschfeld’s book makes the transition of racism from being a ‘respectable’ concept, at least in fascist circles, to an exclusively pejorative term. See Werner Sollors, Ethnic Modernism (Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 2008), 15. [10] Gates Jr. and Curran, 'We Need a New Language'. [11] Gates Jr. and Curran, 'We Need a New Language'. [12] The article is: Katarzyna Bryc et al., 'The Genetic Ancestry of African Americans, Latinos, and European Americans across the United States', American Journal of Human Genetics 96, no. 1 (2015), https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2014.11.010. [13] Text generated by ChatGPT, 12 November 2023, OpenAI, https://chat.openai.com. [14] Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, 27. [15] But see J. Thomas’s concurring view: ‘race is a social construct; we may each identify as members of particular races for any number of reasons, having to do with our skin color, our heritage, or our cultural identity’. Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, 47. [16] Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, 26. This recalls Justice Stewarts famous test for pornography: ‘I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it’. Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184, 378 U.S. Supreme Court Opinions (U.S. Supreme Court 22 June, 1964). [17] See Christopher Hom and Robert May, 'Pejoratives as Fiction', in Bad Words: Philosophical Perspectives on Slurs, ed. David Sosa (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), 108. [18] Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, trans. Christian Tomuschat et al. (Berlin: Federal Ministry of Justice, 19 December, 2022). https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_gg/englisch_gg.html#p0023. The original reads: ‘Niemand darf wegen seines Geschlechtes, seiner Abstammung, seiner Rasse, seiner Sprache, seiner Heimat und Herkunft, seines Glaubens, seiner religiösen oder politischen Anschauungen benachteiligt oder bevorzugt werden’. [19] Hendrick Cremer, "... und welcher Rasse gehören Sie an?" Zur Problematik des Begriffs "Rasse" in der Gesetzgebung, Deutsches Institut für Menschenrechte (Berlin, 2009), 4. My translation. [20] Despite a commitment by the current coalition to replace Rasse with a formulation such as ‘racist discrimination’, the government announced in February 2024 that it would not proceed with the plan. The main reason cited was an objection by the Jewish Council whose president, Josef Schuster, argued that the word is a reminder of the persecution and murder of millions of people – ‘primarily Jews’. Nevertheless, some individual states have removed the word from their constitutions. Vera Wolfskämpf, 'Wort "Rasse" bleibt doch im Grundgesetz', tagesschau (Berlin) 2024, https://www.tagesschau.de/inland/grundgesetz-rasse-begriff-100.html. [21] Barskanmaz and Samour, Das Diskriminierungsverbot. My translation. The German original reads: ‘Rasse ist in der Welt, unser aller Sozialisierung, die Wahrnehmung dieser Welt, ist rassialisiert. Rasse gibt es nicht, aber sie wirkt’. [22] Barskanmaz and Samour, Das Diskriminierungsverbot. Emphasis added. [23] See, for example, Anna von Rath and Lucy Glasser, 'Zehn schweirig zu übersetzende Begriffe in Bezug auf Race', Goethe-Institut 2021, https://www.goethe.de/ins/us/de/kul/wir/22139756.html.The authors state that the word ‘rassialisiert’ ‘sounds strange in German. For a legal perspective, see Doris Liebscher, 'Rassialisierte Differenz im antirassistischen Rechtsstaat. Zu Genealogie und Verfasstheit von Rasse als gleichheitsrechtlicher Kategorie in Artikel 3 Absatz 3 Satz 1 Grundgesetz – und zu den Vorteilen einer postkategorialen Alternative', Archiv des öffentlichen Rechts 146 (2021): 87. More generally: Judith Froese and Daniel Thym, eds., Grundgesetz und Rassismus (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2022). [24] An example is the movement ‘EmbraceRace’ (www.embracerace.org), which advocates even for young children to learn about racialised thinking. For this and many other examples, see Yascha Mounk, The Identity Trap: A Story of Ideas and Power in Our Time (New York: Penguin, 2023). [25] Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, trans. G. E. M. Anscombe (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1958), 20. [26] J. L. Austin, How to Do Things with Words: The William James Lectures Delivered at Harvard University in 1955 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), 120. [27] The late-eighteenth century Habsburg theatre censor Franz Karl Hägelin compiled a list of words that were not permitted to be uttered on the stage under any circumstances. They included, ‘tyrant’, ‘despotism’, ‘enlightenment’, ‘liberty’, and ‘equality’, the latter two were considered to be particularly inflammatory. See Norbert Bachleitner, 'The Habsburg Monarchy', in The Frightful Stage: Political Censorship of the Theater in Nineteenth-Century Europe, ed. Robert Justin Goldstein (New York: Berghahn Books, 2009), 236. [28] See George Orwell: ‘The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something not desirable."’ George Orwell, 'Politics and the English Language (1946)', in A Collection of Essays (London: Harvest Books, 1981), 160. [29] Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities: The Report, Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (London, 2021), https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-report-of-the-commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities. [30] This is one of John Searle’s arguments, referring to a class of facts, he terms institutional, which require speech acts to exist. See John Searle, The Construction of Social Reality (New York: The Free Press, 1995).
bibliography
  Austin, J. L. How to Do Things with Words: The William James Lectures Delivered at Harvard University in 1955. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962. Bachleitner, Norbert. 'The Habsburg Monarchy'. In The Frightful Stage: Political Censorship of the Theater in Nineteenth-Century Europe, edited by Robert Justin Goldstein,  New York: Berghahn Books, 2009. Barskanmaz, Cengiz and Nahed Samour, 'Das Diskriminierungs­verbot aufgrund der Rasse', Maximilian Steinbeis ed. Verfassungsblog: On Matters Constitutional. Max Steinbeis Verfassungsblog gGmbH, 16 June 2020, https://doi.org/10.17176/20200616-124155-0, https://verfassungsblog.de/das-diskriminierungsverbot-aufgrund-der-rasse/. Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany. Translated by Christian Tomuschat, David P. Currie, Donald P. Kommers and Raymond Kerr. Berlin: Federal Ministry of Justice, 19 December, 2022. https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_gg/englisch_gg.html#p0023. Bryc, Katarzyna, Eric Y. Durand, J. Michael Macpherson, David Reich and Joanna L. Mountain. 'The Genetic Ancestry of African Americans, Latinos, and European Americans across the United States'. American Journal of Human Genetics 96, no. 1 (2015): 37-53. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2014.11.010. Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities: The Report. Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (London: 2021). https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-report-of-the-commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities. Cremer, Hendrick. "... und welcher Rasse gehören Sie an?" Zur Problematik des Begriffs "Rasse" in der Gesetzgebung. Deutsches Institut für Menschenrechte (Berlin: 2009). Fellmann, Fabian. 'Historisches Urteil des Supreme Court'. Süddeutsche Zeitung (Munich), 2023, 1. Fredrickson, George M. Racism: A Short History. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002. Froese, Judith and Daniel Thym, eds. Grundgesetz und Rassismus. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2022. Gates Jr., Henry Louis and Andrew Curran. 'We Need a New Language for Talking About Race'. The New York Times (New York), 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/03/opinion/sunday/talking-about-race.html. Heck, Johann Georg. Bilder-Atlas zum Conversations-Lexikon: Ikonographische Encyklopädie der Wissenschaften und Künste. Vol. 1, Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1849. Hirschfeld, Magnus. Racism. Edited and Translated by Eden Paul and Cedar PaulLondon: Victor Gollancz, 1938. Hom, Christopher and Robert May. 'Pejoratives as Fiction'. In Bad Words: Philosophical Perspectives on Slurs, edited by David Sosa,  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. Keevak, Michael. Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011. Liebscher, Doris. 'Rassialisierte Differenz im antirassistischen Rechtsstaat. Zu Genealogie und Verfasstheit von Rasse als gleichheitsrechtlicher Kategorie in Artikel 3 Absatz 3 Satz 1 Grundgesetz – und zu den Vorteilen einer postkategorialen Alternative'. Archiv des öffentlichen Rechts 146 (2021). Mounk, Yascha. The Identity Trap: A Story of Ideas and Power in Our Time. New York: Penguin, 2023. Orwell, George. 'Politics and the English Language (1946)'. In A Collection of Essays,  London: Harvest Books, 1981. Reich, David. Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past New York: Pantheon Books, 2018. Scharf, Sven. 'Supreme Court untersagt Studentenauswahl anhand von Hautfarbe – und das sind die Folgen'. Der Spiegel, 30 June, 2023. https://www.spiegel.de/ausland/affirmative-action-supreme-court-urteil-zur-studierendenauswahl-in-den-usa-der-ueberblick-a-890969d3-6a7b-4cb6-bb91-fde0513c9f87. Searle, John. The Construction of Social Reality. New York: The Free Press, 1995. Sollors, Werner. Ethnic Modernism. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 2008. 'Theories of Race: An annotated anthology of essays on race, 1684-1900'. 2023, https://www.theoriesofrace.com/. 'US-Supreme Court lehnt positive Diskriminierung an Unis ab'. Austria Presse Agentur (Vienna), 30 June 2023. https://science.apa.at/power-search/14090665902102260545. von Rath, Anna and Lucy Glasser, 'Zehn schweirig zu übersetzende Begriffe in Bezug auf Race'. Goethe-Institut 2021, https://www.goethe.de/ins/us/de/kul/wir/22139756.html. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Philosophical Investigations. Translated by G. E. M. Anscombe. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1958. Wolfskämpf, Vera. 'Wort "Rasse" bleibt doch im Grundgesetz'. tagesschau (Berlin), 2024. https://www.tagesschau.de/inland/grundgesetz-rasse-begriff-100.html.  
citation information:
Balme, Christopher, 'The uses of race: dis:connective perspectives', Ben Kamis ed. global dis:connect blog, 16 April 2024, https://www.globaldisconnect.org/04/16/the-uses-of-race-disconnective-perspectives/.
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Bridging a gap: global knowledge production and its dis:connectivity — a review of the gd:c annual conference 2023

doğukan akbaş & peter seeland
Munich, 11-13 October 2023
The writer Bernadette Mayer addresses the plurality of knowledge production by interweaving various novellas in her work Story (1968). ‘All stories are at least not the same’, she says. How can this plurality be grasped and explored? How does knowledge get transmitted and applied, and what (global) dynamics apply? Last year’s annual conference, organized by Nikolai Brandes and Burcu Doğramaci of the Käte Hamburger Research Centre global dis:connect (gd:c), aimed to answer these questions. Combining notions of connectivity and disconnectivity in globalisation processes, the participants considered dis:connectivities in global knowledge production. Focusing on various forms of interruptions, absences, and detours in knowledge production, they sought a nuanced image to surpass the narrative of linear, boundless, uniform globalisation. The conference built on the previous year’s method-oriented conference.[1] And by inviting artists and activists in addition to scholars, gd:c emphasised diversity and multidisciplinarity in knowledge production. The annual conference covered three themes: exploration, carriers, and challenges of knowledge and its production. A film screening and museum visits took the participants out of the conference room and stimulated them with exploratory media.

Fig. 1: Starting point: Zu den Kinos — to the screening rooms. Image by: Doğukan Akbaş

The conference kicked off with a screening of the film Queer Gardening (2022). In this documentary, the urban planner, filmmaker and gardener Ella von der Haide (Munich) captures stories of queer individuals living in the USA through their individual experiences with gardening. The subjects expressed their resistance to the normative practice of gardening and the associated discrimination, which have traditionally been shaped by hetero-cis bias, through linguistic, etymological, spiritual and historical exploration of gardening. To rethink gardening from queer perspectives, not only in terms of societal norms but also as growing food and herbal medicines, was the primary goal of the documentary. Ecological knowledge, previously dominated by a heteronormative understanding of reproduction, can be reinterpreted and revised. Gardening can thus reflect queer identities as it creates and conveys queer knowledge. The exiled writer and gender researcher Stella Nyanzi (Berlin) described challenges of queer knowledge production and started by defining herself as a knowledge producer. She emphasised her three identities, academic, poet and activist. Using visual activism, she focused on the criminalisation of knowledge production in Uganda and the resulting challenges of queer knowledge production. Uganda’s anti-homosexual laws subject queer people to defamation by the press and (physical) violence by the public, robbing them of their senses of safety and dignity. Nyanzi, without seeking a conclusion, sought to prompt future research and activism with a few questions: how can knowledge producers deal with such challenges, and how can queer knowledge contribute to society as a whole? The historian Stephanie Zloch (Dresden) sees education as a central pillar of knowledge production and addressed the challenges associated with (global) migration, particularly focusing on the educational circumstances in Germany during the major migrations since 1945. She examined displaced persons, the post-war education system, language schools for migrants, Islamic education in Germany and ‘foreigner classes’ in German schools. Zloch investigated how knowledge can be recontextualised and synthesised into new forms through interruptions and detours, political debates and national interests. From the labour migrants of the 19th and 20th centuries to the present day, Munich has long been a city of migration, as illustrated by a guided tour of the Münchener Stadtmuseum led by historian Simon Goeke (Munich). The sociologist and artist Tunay Önder, for example, created a mind map of migration experiences with her Transtopischer Teppich (2016).[2] The collaged objects blend migration culture, forming hybrids of German and Turkish languages and memory cultures, resulting in the emergence of terms such as Migrantenstadl (migrant town) and even a whole migration dictionary. Culture and knowledge change through migration and give rise to completely new forms.

Fig. 2: Transtopischer Teppich. Image by: Doğukan Akbaş

The historian Lucie Mbignie Nankena (Dschang) discussed intergenerational and global transfer of knowledge, using the example of traditional Cameroonian dances. A dance can embody knowledge and convey identity as well as cultural and factual knowledge, about life with nature and traditions. Mariana Sadovska (Cologne) concluded the day with her concert-lecture on this idea of knowledge transfer through culture and tradition. With her research-based collection of folk songs from Ukraine, Sadovska helps preserve and transmit oral culture. Her concert, explicitly scheduled as part of the lecture section and not as a marginal event, guided the audience through the multicultural musical landscape of Ukraine, using her voice and harmonium. This landscape includes Jewish, Albanian, Greek and Swedish influences. The mostly polyphonic pieces metaphorically represent the diverse Ukrainian culture. The ongoing war lent Sadovska’s connection of art and research particular relevance. Preserving and reviving knowledge through personal appropriation is her main goal. The artist Lizza May David (Berlin) reported on her archive project in which she explores Philippine colonial history through photography. Western colonial powers created photo archives that only depicted their ideas and fantasies. Once these Western ideas had reached the Philippines, manifested in the photos and returned to Europe, David worked with them and sent her work back to Indonesia. This practice highlighted the global and dis:connective aspects of knowledge dynamics. With her Urban Bodies projects the choreographer Yolanda Gutiérrez (Hamburg) connected to the theme of archiving. These projects are ‘colonial city tours’, in which choreographic performances, executed by David Valencia and Jana Baldovino, draw attention to the presence of colonisation in European cities and shape a decolonised future through dance. The body serves as a carrier of colonial experience, and the corporeality facilitates the production and transmission of knowledge about colonial history. Thus, she perceives the body as an archive of knowledge. The writer Franz Dobler (Augsburg) guided the participants through the Archiv 451 exhibition at the Haus der Kunst. The autonomous publishing archive is the knowledge repository of the Trikont publishing house, which played a central role in Munich’s 1968 protests. As one of the first autonomous publishers in West Germany, it disseminated alternative perspectives on new social and ecological ideas in line with workers’ movements according to Franz Dobler, who himself participated as a writer and activist in the later years of the publishing house. With its focus on decolonisation and anti-fascism, the publisher shaped knowledge on a societal level. The archive exhibited not only published books but also records and documents from the music label and publishing house. The art historian Mona Schieren (Bremen) considered the physicality of knowledge through the Brazilian artist Lygia Clark’s understanding of the body. In her project Structuring the Self (1988-89), Clark attempted to trigger memories in various people through physical touch and objects. She associates remembering, reviving and expanding knowledge with a transcendental physical knowledge experience. This means not only reading, learning and familiarising oneself with knowledge, but also physically experiencing and expanding it. The corporeality of knowledge is palpable in Non Aligned Movement (2020) – a performance by artist Christian Guerematchi. A black man with a black mask, who donned the airs and uniform of the Yugoslav president Josip Tito before divesting them through dance.[3] The art historian Jasmina Tumbas (Buffalo) interpreted this performance as an Afro-European search for identity: the artist, originally from the former Yugoslavia, deconstructs Tito as a symbol of a racist, patriarchal and heteronormative society through his dancing body. Corporeality as a bearer and producer of knowledge can disrupt and reshape paradigms. Ana Druwe (São Paulo) spoke on the institutional preservation and production of knowledge at the Casa do Povo cultural centre in São Paulo. Founded in 1946 by Jewish immigrants as a Holocaust memorial, Casa do Povo is a living monument, providing space for education, art, collective and social activities. Its diverse practices, fundamental openness and Nossa Voz – the in-house magazine – foster anti-fascism, intercultural dialogue and social understanding. ‘Sharing the key to the building’ is the motto signifying the trust and spirit of collaborative knowledge production among the house users. The architect, theorist and activist Niloufar Tajeri (Berlin) also focused on buildings and the problems of architectural knowledge. Architecture directly and indirectly manifests various levels of knowledge in built space. So, who sees what in architecture, and how does it affect those who dwell therein? Using the example of current plans for Hermannplatz in Berlin, she revealed racist structures, potential exclusion and the importance of individual experience in architecture. Knowledge production does not end with construction — users and residents create knowledge within and with it. Architecture is an archive of knowledge that must become more aware of the challenge of including the people touched, affected and affiliated by and with it. ‘At least everybody doesn’t see the same in architecture’, concludes Tajeri fittingly. A poster session, organised by Doğukan Akbaş, Sophia Fischer and Peter Seeland, catalysed dialogue with young scholars. Chiara Di Carlo (Rome) spoke about pilgrimages to the Holy Land in the 16th century and dis:connectivities in transmitting knowledge (see her article in this issue). Yunting Xie (Uppsala) and Jie Yang (Munich) presented their research on global knowledge transfer in 20th-century China. Sabrina Herrmann (Kassel) discussed contemporary artistic attempts to resist gender-based human rights violations, examining how Mexican and Colombian artists raise awareness. Scott Blum-Woodland (Cambridge) treated the reception of Russian post-war literature in the UK in the late-20th century. Blum-Woodland forwarded the thesis that knowledge production is inevitably local and depends on societal (and national) connections.

Fig. 3: The poster session team in the gd:c library. Image by: Doğukan Akbaş

The conference evinced a diverse, transdisciplinary and multi-perspective approach to knowledge production, without neglecting the common theme. Instantiating ‘glocalisation’,[4] we explored the global through local Munich. This conference fostered communication between the arts and sciences. Thus, it became a site of knowledge production itself. In lieu of a closing statement with concrete results, we proposed research questions, approaches, methods and topics for ongoing conversations. In a way, the conference concluded as it began, recalling the introductory quote by Bernadette Mayer: ‘knowledge is never the same’. The conference pointed to a gap in the current academic discourse. Knowledge and its production must be analysed more intensively, more broadly and more inclusively. And dealing with this fact is a challenge that research must necessarily face.  

Fig. 4: Happy and fulfilled: celebrating the conference in the gd:c gardens. Image by: Doğukan Akbaş

(Global) knowledge production initially appeared to be an omnipresent concept in everyday life. We have all undergone an educational journey through school, university, work and our private lives, experiencing knowledge production first-hand. The term knowledge production immediately made us think of these institutional instances. While aware of significant differences on a(n) (inter)national level, awareness for the depth of these differences and the challenges evoked was not fully there. A mere glance at the conference programme showed that there is more to look at than just institutions. It provided us with a different approach to knowledge production and its underlying principles. A more out-of-the-box approach was necessary. It quickly became clear that this examination could only be successful from various perspectives across diverse disciplines, not limited to a lecture-type of examination. Historical assessments, musical performances and architectural considerations – all contributed to our awareness of the challenges of knowledge production and led to the outcome of our conference. We were especially impressed by the interdisciplinary collaboration of international researchers, ranging from facing political persecution for their research and the standing-up-for-justice we take for granted, to traveling through various regions experiencing war. It was their perspectives and personal stories that brought life to this conference.   [1] Peter Seeland, 'Looking back on global dis:connect's first annual conference: dis:connectivity in processes of globalisation: theories, methodologies, explorations', static: thoughts and research from global dis:connect 2, no. 1 (2023), https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.5282/static/41. [2] Tunay Önder, Transtropischer Teppich, 2016, Carpet, paper, plastic, metal, digital material, 250 x 350 x 10 cm, Münchner Stadtmuseum, Sammlung Stadtkultur. https://sammlungonline.muenchner-stadtmuseum.de/objekt/kunstwerkcollage-transtopischer-teppich-10203686. [3] Christian Guerematchi, 'NAM - Non Aligned Movement teaser', digital video. ICK Dans Amsterdam et al., 2021. YouTube, 1:00. https://youtu.be/5dh991XPHFs. [4] Robert Robertson, 'Glokalisierung — Homogenität und Heterogenität in Raum und Zeit', in Perspektiven der Weltgesellschaft, ed. Ullrich Beck (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1998).  
bibliography
Guerematchi, Christian. 'NAM - Non Aligned Movement teaser'. digital video. ICK Dans Amsterdam, Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst, music/sound: Shishani, text/dramaturgy: Gita Hacham, costumes/design: Jonathan Ho and creative direction: PINKB!NK, 2021, YouTube, 1:00. https://youtu.be/5dh991XPHFs. Önder, Tunay. Transtropischer Teppich. 2016. Carpet, paper, plastic, metal, digital material, 250 x 350 x 10 cm. Münchner Stadtmuseum, Sammlung Stadtkultur. https://sammlungonline.muenchner-stadtmuseum.de/objekt/kunstwerkcollage-transtopischer-teppich-10203686. Robertson, Robert. 'Glokalisierung — Homogenität und Heterogenität in Raum und Zeit'. In Perspektiven der Weltgesellschaft, edited by Ullrich Beck,  Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1998. Seeland, Peter. 'Looking back on global dis:connect's first annual conference: dis:connectivity in processes of globalisation: theories, methodologies, explorations'. static: thoughts and research from global dis:connect 2, no. 1 (2023): 77-81. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.5282/static/41.  
citation information:
Akbaş, Doğukan, 'Bridging a gap: global knowledge production and its dis:connectivity — a review of the gd:c annual conference 2023', Ben Kamis ed. global dis:connect blog. Käte Hamburger Research Centre global dis:connect, 2 April 2024, https://www.globaldisconnect.org/04/02/bridging-a-gap-global-knowledge-production-and-its-disconnectivity-a-review-of-the-gdc-annual-conference-2023/.
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Jie-Hyun Lim takes up fellowship

In March Jie-Hyun Lim commenced his term as a fellow at global dis:connect. Welcome. Jie-Hyun Lim holds the CIPSH Chair of Global Easts and is a founding director of the Critical Global Studies Institute at Sogang University. At gd:c Jie-Hyun will work on multilingual versions of victimhood nationalism as a conceptual tool to illustrate competing memories of victimhood in the postwar Vergangenheitsbewältigung across Europe and East Asia. Continue Reading

Pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the 16th-17th centuries: disconnectivites and the shaping of cultural imaginaries

chiara di carlo
  I want to show how pilgrimage to the Holy Land helped mitigate Europeans’ fear of the Turks and the Ottoman world. Especially the accounts of the Holy Land produced between the 16th and 17th centuries are valuable testimonies that show us not only a real journey, but an inner journey as well. These accounts reveal how fragile the popular imaginary was, made up of the pilgrims’ own fears, highlighting the dynamics of cultural disconnections and reconnections, especially between Italian-Christian and Ottoman-Islamic popular culture. Starting with the European popular context, I will show the common imaginary of ‘the Turk’ and how pilgrimage, along with other factors, eased collective fears.

The European imaginary

Between the fall of Constantinople in 1453 to the Christian defense of Vienna in 1683, the Turkish question was one of the most debated topics in European society. Thanks to the advent of movable-type printing, publicity, diaries and the Itinera Terrae Sanctae (i.e. pilgrims’ travelogues) contained news about the Turkish world, culturally distant but geographically now at the gates of Christian Europe.[1] From the 15th century, knowledge about Islam was increasing, especially under Pope Pius II (1458-1464), who encouraged the study of Muslims. According to the pope – and this view became common over the years – the success of Muhammad’s religion was mainly due to the supposed licentiousness of the Turks’ sexual mores, as they were perceived as lustful and sodomites. This narrative aroused concern among European publics.[2] An example is found in I cinque libri della legge, religione, et vita de’ Turchi et della Corte, et d’alchune guerre del Gran Turcho by Menavino. The author writes: ‘The vice of lust is still present among Muslims, considering it a completely abominable behavior. According to their law, everyone is obliged to legitimately take a wife to eradicate this sin and all other forms of fornication. Women are so strongly tainted by the vice of sodomy that it is impossible for many of them to abstain from it. Since all are tainted by this stain, they do not punish each other and it is stated in their Quran that those who practice this vice are lost’.[3] Europeans’ images of the Turks were largely influenced by prints and news stories. A clear example is found in a graphic work by the Bolognese artist Giuseppe Maria Mitelli (fig.1). The print depicts passers-by, scandalised and frightened, fleeing, refusing to take in the news, as the seller holds a portrait of a man wearing a turban – an image that was widespread as early as the mid-16th century.[4]

Fig 1. Giuseppe Maria Mitelli, Compra Chi Vuole / Avisi Di Guerra / Carte Di Guerra / À Buon Mercato, À Due Bolognini / L'una, 1684, Etching, 193 x 270 mm, Gonnelli Firenze, sale 31 / grafica & libri, 29 October 2021, lot 17.

In Central Europe, more so than in Italy, images of the Turk were aimed at terrorising the people. In Germany, Erhard Schön’s 16th-century engravings are among the crudest. One example is the woodcut depicting a fragment of the Turkish invasion of Hungary, where in the foreground a procession of Turkish soldiers is led by mounted officers holding spears with impaled heads (fig. 2).

Fig. 2 Erhard Schön, Fragment of a broadside on the Turkish invasion of Hungary, 1532, print, 42.32 x 29.17 cm, © The Trustees of the British Museum. Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) licence.

Contra Turcos images and writings all had the same function: to question the reputation of the Sultan’s government, falsely promoted as welcoming and tolerating Christian communities that had accepted his rule. The purpose was also to show the dangers of the Ottoman world through bloody scenes, grotesque portraits and tales of abuse.[5] However, during the same period, the Church’s anti-Turkish campaign was met with reactions beyond fear and irritation. Numerous Italian intellectuals, in an anticlerical attitude, wished for the arrival of the Turks. Niccolò Machiavelli is an example for this. In his historical-political writings, he expresses deep esteem for the sultan, while despising Christian propaganda that aimed to spread fear and misrepresent the Turk.[6]

Pilgrimage and travel reports

The cultural and figurative context described up to this point represents the frame of reference for the pilgrims and those who read their travelogues. Despite the temporal and cultural distance, the Itinera ad Loca Sancta[7] allows us to ‘re-enter’ those lands thanks to another important aid: images. The writers were the same pilgrims who, between the 16th and 17th centuries, set out for spiritual reasons, but also for ‘entrepreneurial’[8] and ‘political’ ones. Their reports often reflected what the powerful in Christendom expected to hear. Especially Bartholomeo Georgijević[9] spoke of the Holy Land as ‘alienated and doomed, pervaded by dissensions and neglected by the principles of the Christian Republic, it is a barbarian land now under the rule of the Turks.’[10] He told of holy places in and around Jerusalem, sadly damaged by the ‘infidels’ who ruled and guarded it. He also tells of the terror they instilled in the traveller-pilgrims, who were forced to endure numerous restrictions. For example, they were confined to the monastery where they resided lest they be robbed or killed, and they were not allowed to possess any kind of weapon.[11] However, even this fear proved fallacious; some writers, such as Aquilante Rocchetta,[12] recounted that they had never seen or heard of pilgrims killed by the Turks,[13] thus proposing an alternative image. Again, Georgijević regretted not only the cost of living, but also a kind of slavery due to the toll required to enter the Holy Places. Zuallart’s[14] text contains an exemplary print, showing pilgrims stopped on their way to pay the fee (fig. 3).[15] However, the Croatian author’s regret was the same felt by a Muslim pilgrim visiting Jerusalem in late 900 AD, when the Arab geographer Al-Muqaddasi recounted the disadvantages of visiting the city in Catholic hands. Among his complaints were the cost of living, the prices of public baths and hostels, and the oppressive vigilance of the guards at the city gates that curtailed trade.[16] ‘Then again, how could it be otherwise,’ Muquaddasi wonders, ‘given the prevaricating manner in which Christians behaved in public places’.[17]

Fig. 3 Seritz in Jean Zuallart, Il devotissimo viaggio di Gerusalemme, print, 1586, 60 x 85 cm. © Bibliotheca Terrae Sanctae. Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Among the difficulties pilgrims faced on arrival in the Holy Land were the language barrier and obstacles to their travel. The Itinera Terrae Sanctae, such as Zuallardo’s, suggested getting an interpreter, often a local Christian who would also act as a guide and mediator. Some travellers even recommended hiring a Janissary (Yeni Ceri), a kind of bodyguard, to accompany them on the journey while also serving as an interpreter. A crucial aspect of economic-cultural mediation concerned the ‘rental’ of animals and negotiations with the ‘muccari’ (ar. Mukari).[18] Despite obvious difficulties, these were the first interactions with the native population, including, of course, the Turks. Over the course of the pilgrimage to the Holy Land, fear gradually faded as the pilgrims progressed through the narrative and the journey. This change is evident in the positive descriptions of Turk territories, as in the case of Ramla as described by Jean Zuallart. Giovanni Francesco Alcarotti,[19] recounting the beauty of Tripoli, also challenges his preconceived beliefs. His enthusiasm peaked in Jerusalem, a cosmopolitan city full of temples from different religions. The stories go beyond descriptions of the city, detailing local culture, including dishes, markets and practices such as tattooing. Initial forced interaction with the Turk turns into appreciation, with pilgrims praising the loyalty of the Janissaries as escorts: ‘Although the Turks are enemies of our faith, they would rather be cut to pieces than allow mistreatment of those they protect and have in their custody’.[20] The pilgrimage lasted years, allowing travellers to become accustomed to and integrated into the Turkish world. Especially Alcarotti’s text, initially critical, changed perspective, recognising positive aspects in the people and cultures encountered. One example is the observations about how Muslims attended to Christian shrines and pilgrims’ dwellings. The author also recalls a dinner he attended with Turkish officers from the local garrison: eating while sitting on a carpet, 'according to their custom', he was happy to converse with the guests and to learn how many places sacred to Christians were also sacred to Muslims.[21] Upon returning, the experiences of each pilgrim-cum-writer became the experiences of each reader, each listener. Far more pilgrimage texts were in vernacular Italian than in Latin, which expanded their readership, and the images opened their contents even to the illiterate. The battle of Lepanto – when in 1571 the Holy League defeated ‘the unbeatable Turk’ – would further assuage the fear of an Ottoman invasion, but the encounters – as well as the clashes – in the Holy Land between pilgrims and Turks contributed to an image devoid of fears and preconceptions. By reflecting on these texts, the experience of Christian pilgrims of the past can be contextualised, offering insights into a broader reflection on the confrontation between Christianity and the Islamic world and the intertwining of histories and cultures.
[1] Massimo Moretti, 'Dalle “pancacce” ai piatti. Percezioni e rappresentazioni del Turco nella cultura popolare del Cinquecento', in Storie intrecciata. Rappresentazioni e conoscenza dell'Islam nell'Italia moderna, ed. Serena Di Nepi (Rome: Edizioni di storia e letteratura, 2015), 131-32. [2] Moretti, 'Dalle “pancacce” ai piatti', 136. [3]l vitio della Lussuria hanno anchora i mahomettani per cosa in tutto abominevole. Perché secondo la lor legge, tutti sono costretti di pigliar legittima sposa, per tor via questo peccato, et ogni altra fornicazione [...]. Conciosia che oltra le donne, sono molto imbrattati del vitio della sodomia; in modo tale, che non è possibile per alcuna via, se ne possano astenere. Et perché tutti sono macchiati di questa pece, fra loro non ne danno punitione, et hanno nel loro coran, che quelli che usano questo vitio, sono perduti’. Giovanni Antonio Menavino, I cinque libri della legge, religione, et vita de’ Turchi: et della corte, & d'alcune guerre del Gran Turco (Venice: Vincenzo Valgrisi, 1548). Unless otherwise indicated, all translations are by the author. [4] Moretti, 'Dalle “pancacce” ai piatti', 139. [5] There are numerous texts expressing negative views of the Turks, especially the writings of Bartholomew Georgijević. See: Profetia de i Turchi, della loro rovina, o la conversione alla fede di Christo per forza della spada Christiana; Specchio de' lochi sacri di Terra Santa, che comprende quattro libretti, si come leggendo questo seguente foglio, potrai intendere. [6] Niccolò Machiavelli, Opere di Niccolò Machiavelli cittadino e segretario fiorentino, vol. VIII (Florence: Piatti, 1813), 60. [7] Most of the books analysed here date from the 16th and 17th centuries. Some of the texts were covered in my 2019 dissertation as part of a project coordinated by Prof. Massimo Moretti (University of Rome La Sapienza) on reconstructing the image of the last Duke of Urbino, Francesco Maria II della Rovere through the study of his ‘Libraria.’ [8] Bernard von Breydenbach's Peregrinationes plays a fundamental role in the modern age, anticipating the volumes examined in the text. It is the first illustrated travel book, a mix of diary and guidebook, representing a path of culture and knowledge. Breydenbach's pilgrimage was selective, with a mystical experience complementing the primarily commercial purpose: an opportunity to bring his pamphlet to life. He set out intending to write a book on his return, to include illustrations that would reinforce the words, and hoping to have it published. That is, he grasped the possible outcomes (including commercial ones) of printing, bringing the painter Erhard Reuwich along to create the illustrations. Gabriella Bartolini and Giulio Caporali, Peregrinationes. Un viaggiatore del Quattrocento (Rome: Vecchiarelli, 1999), 12-18. [9] Georgijević was born in Croatia around 1505 and was captured by the Turks after the Battle of Mohács in 1526. He spent time in captivity, working as a farmer and shepherd, and escaped in 1535. In Rome from 1540 to 1560, he published works and received a modest pension as a 'humiliated'. The veracity of his experience as a prisoner and pilgrim is in doubt, as he may have imagined part of it. [10] ‘Alienata e biasimata, abitata da discordia e negligenza dei principi della Repubblica Cristiana e terra di barbarie occupata dai Turchi. ' [11] Bartolomeo Georgijević, Specchio de' lochi sacri di Terra Santa, che comprende quattro libretti, si come leggendo questo seguente foglio, potrai intendere (Rome: Bolano, 1566). [12] Rocchetta, a Calabrian traveler, wrote a report about his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1598. This diary offers a detailed account of his experiences at holy sites, providing valuable information for future pilgrims. [13] ‘On this Voyage, we have rarely heard of Pilgrims being killed by Arab thieves or captured by Turks. On the contrary, at sea, the boats we pass belong to Turkish merchants who do not carry out acts of capture or theft. On the contrary, many times they provide us with assistance when we need it, supplying us with wood and water when there is a shortage’. Aquilante Rocchetta, Peregrinatione di Terra Santa e d’altre provincie di Don Aquilante Rocchetta Cavaliere del Santissimo Sepolcro. Nella quale si descrive distintamente quella di Christo secondo gli Evangelisti (Palermo: Alfonzo Dell’Isola, 1630). [14] Zuallart was born in 1541 in Ath, Belgium. After a trip to Germany and Italy with Philippe de Mérode, the latter suggested to Zuallart that he make a pilgrimage to Palestine to compile a guidebook on his return. With great will, Zuallart learned the art of drawing in a few months and was thus able to illustrate the story with realistic images, besting other works’ figurative art and becoming very successful. [15] Jean Zuallart, Il devotissimo viaggio di Gerusalemme fatto, & descritto in sei libri (Rome: Francesco Zannetti and Giacomo Ruffinelli, 1587), 118. [16] Attilio Brilli, Il grande racconto del viaggio in Italia. Itinerari di ieri per viaggiatori di oggi (Bologna: Il mulino, 2019), 72,23. [17] Brilli, Il grande racconto. [18] Lucia Rostagno, 'Pellegrini italiani a Gerusalemme in età ottomana: percorsi, esperienze, momenti d’incontro', Oriente Moderno 17, no. 1 (1998): 82. [19] Alcarotti, born in Novara in 1535, was a composer and organist. He spent much of his youth in Rome studying. Belonging to a wealthy family, he had the opportunity to visit Italy's major cities and made the pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1588. On his return he wrote a guidebook. See: Giovanni Francesco Alcarotti, Del viaggio di Terra Santa. Da Venetia à Tripoli, di Soria (Novara: Francesco Sesalli, 1596). [20] ‘Tutto che siano i Turchi, nemici di nostra fede, più tosto si lascerebbero tagliar a pezzi, che lasciar maltrattare quelli, che esse prendono in guardia e sotto la loro protezione’. Rocchetta, Peregrinatione di Terra Santa. [21] Rostagno, 'Pellegrini italiani', 99.
bibliography
Alcarotti, Giovanni Francesco. Del viaggio di Terra Santa. Da Venetia à Tripoli, di Soria Novara: Francesco Sesalli, 1596. Bartolini, Gabriella and Giulio Caporali. Peregrinationes. Un viaggiatore del Quattrocento. Rome: Vecchiarelli, 1999. Brilli, Attilio. Il grande racconto del viaggio in Italia. Itinerari di ieri per viaggiatori di oggi. Bologna: Il mulino, 2019. Georgijević, Bartolomeo. Specchio de' lochi sacri di Terra Santa, che comprende quattro libretti, si come leggendo questo seguente foglio, potrai intendere. Rome: Bolano, 1566. Machiavelli, Niccolò. Opere di Niccolò Machiavelli cittadino e segretario fiorentino. Vol. VIII, Florence: Piatti, 1813. Menavino, Giovanni Antonio. I cinque libri della legge, religione, et vita de’ Turchi: et della corte, & d'alcune guerre del Gran Turco. Venice: Vincenzo Valgrisi, 1548. Moretti, Massimo. 'Dalle “pancacce” ai piatti. Percezioni e rappresentazioni del Turco nella cultura popolare del Cinquecento'. In Storie intrecciata. Rappresentazioni e conoscenza dell'Islam nell'Italia moderna, edited by Serena Di Nepi,  Rome: Edizioni di storia e letteratura, 2015. Rocchetta, Aquilante. Peregrinatione di Terra Santa e d’altre provincie di Don Aquilante Rocchetta Cavaliere del Santissimo Sepolcro. Nella quale si descrive distintamente quella di Christo secondo gli Evangelisti. Palermo: Alfonzo Dell’Isola, 1630. Rostagno, Lucia. 'Pellegrini italiani a Gerusalemme in età ottomana: percorsi, esperienze, momenti d’incontro'. Oriente Moderno 17, no. 1 (1998): 63-157. Zuallart, Jean. Il devotissimo viaggio di Gerusalemme fatto, & descritto in sei libri. Rome: Francesco Zannetti and Giacomo Ruffinelli, 1587.
citation information:
Di Carlo, Chiara, 'Pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the 16th-17th centuries: disconnectivities and the shaping of cultural imaginaries', Ben Kamis ed. global dis:connect blog. Käte Hamburger Research Centre global dis:connect, 6 February 2024, https://www.globaldisconnect.org/02/06/pilgrimage-to-the-holy-land-in-the-16th-17th-centuries/.
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‘Not only cast steel or chiselled stone; people can be monuments too’: an exploration of the Memory Person

cathrine bublatzky and franziska windolf

When we think of monuments, we think of statues, memories and events from the past. They are site-specific, solid, immobile. How can they represent cultural and collective memories that are remembered by many, often very differently, and that over time experience new readings? How can monuments installed by institutions, organisations and states speak to and for everybody?

What bodies can do the creative work of memory? How can the actual labour of memory be foregrounded, its training, sharing and transmission?[1]

 

These questions are relevant to agents in the fields of memory studies and memory production, such as artists, cultural practitioners, institutions, governments and, most importantly, for various communities and people in their everyday lives.

[It] … is on the ‘act’ of memory, … inquiring into the processes of making, constructing, enacting, transforming, expressing, transmitting cultural memory through art and popular culture. … The notion of ‘performing memory’ thus presupposes agency.[2]

 

The Memory Person (they/them), ongoing since June 2023, by artist Franziska Windolf offers a common form of memory production. The Memory Person performed memory as ‘an embodied and localised practice’[3] and was conceptualised in Munich during an artist residency at the Käte Hamburger Research Centre global dis:connect and in partnership with the ERC-funded METROMOD research project (Relocating Modernism: Global Metropolises, Modern Art and Exile at LMU Munich).

In their joint exploration, anthropologist Cathrine Bublatzky and artist Franziska Windolf explore how the Memory Person represented a striking tension between the concepts of memory, monument and performance.

A performative monument

The Memory Person strolled through the Giesing quarter, a former workers’ district in southeast Munich. The performance was enacted by different persons who embodied a variety of identities, genders and agencies. They were strikingly dressed, carrying several commemorative objects and memorabilia on their body. Each object has its own history, creators and memories. At the heart of the public artwork were ongoing and dynamic encounters between the Memory Person and passers-by, their lively and personal interactions, their shared stories and memories. The Memory Person was dedicated to creative people who have migrated or are living in exile, and anyone could participate.

Not only cast steel or chiselled stone; people can be monuments too.[4]

 

The Memory Person challenges the idea of ‘performing memory’.[5] As a performative monument, they work with what anthropologists call the agency of humans ‘to create and construct their own reality’ and to ‘collectively … shape themselves in their behaviours and beliefs’.[6] Performing the Memory Person entailed an uninterrupted metamorphosis in which their ‘form’ kept changing. Their performances merged practices of collecting, storing and re-narrating, all resulting in a changing monument.

The public artwork becomes and operates as a performance based on the material interaction and dialogue with people in the streets.

 

Those who encountered the Memory Person are diverse. Some have long lived in Munich, some have moved from another country, others have migrated or even fled war and other crises in their home countries. All have memories, often not shared with wider publics, as they are intimate and personal, sometimes even traumatic and frightening.

 

The Memory Person is a living monument that does not represent a particular memory or hegemonic narrative. They produced a host of memories of differently shared pasts in cities like Munich, shaped by migration and mobility.

A nomadic plinth celebrating diversity

The Memory Person is a practical invention. Due to the lack of publicly accessible knowledge about creative migrants, exiles and their work in greater Munich, memories and biographies must be actively sought out in order to become visible.

As a living monument, they stimulate an interplay of creative expressions and reflections. The collection of memories and memorabilia, and their endowment to people is open-ended.

 

The web of relationships between the memorabilia changed with each new contribution. The Memory Person decentralises and mediates whilst connecting shared memories with people. This flexible and responsive artistic form is open to renegotiation and emergent values. Their sharing and (re-)telling is on display, mediating memory culture as a lively, contested practice.

The Memory Person and their counterparts became ‘facilitators, knowledge producers, hosts and vision seekers’.[7]

 

The Memory Person as a performative monument is alive and constantly ‘becoming’.

But what is actually remembered in such unforeseen encounters?

Encountering the Memory Person

Often, curiosity and eye contact sparked encounters with the Memory Person. Their colourful, unconventional appearance, which defies stereotypical assumptions about a carnival or the Oktoberfest, attracted attention and made people wonder what the Memory Person was all about. Once they grasped the goal of the performance, many started to talk about their connections to Giesing and other residents, artists and migrants. They referred to creative people and places. Upon a second, deeper encounter, they contributed personal commemorative objects as fragments of their memories.

The creativity of the monument is very broad and includes music, tinkering, crafting, knitting, cooking, graffiti, etc.

 

Thus, the Memory Person addressed as many people as possible. Their objective was to raise awareness of the lack of memorials for migrants and creative people in the neighbourhood. Everyone was invited to celebrate and honour the creativity and work of past and present exiles and migrants by participating.

The initial performances of the Memory Person in June and July 2023 were a curated city walk to sites of exile in Giesing, revealing their continued relevance with a pre-selected audience. The spectators accompanied the Memory Person and witnessed their encounters and interactions with passers-by. Participants were invited to carry the memorabilia with the Memory Person and to contribute a wish for a future monument, a memory or a memento of a creative migrant who once lived or moved to Giesing.

The performances in August and September 2023 were more frequent, focussing only on encounters with residents and passers-by. The route through the district was more improvised, with time and space to revisit people and businesses, play table tennis, etc. On these occasions, the Memory Person collected memorabilia and commemorative articles devoted to creative exiles and migrants from anyone who wanted to commemorate.

How the Memory Person embodies the monument and interactions with participants in the artwork is shaped by three elements:

  1. The Memory Person opens encounters by approaching passers-by during a curated city-walk (June/July 2023) whilst strolling through the neighbourhood without a pre-selected audience (August/September 2023);

  2. Alternating subject positions between the Memory Person and passers-by/audience;

  3. Evolving artwork when the artwork is relationally produced with participants.

 

All three registers played out in each Memory Person performance. But the performances in June/July 2023 were less dynamic and open, as the Memory Person held a fixed position as the ‘guide’ to explain and share knowledge during the curated walk. The material contributions to the performative monument were largely predetermined (written notes on textile/foam rubber prepared by the artist).

The evolution of the artwork is produced more ‘by’ than only ‘with’ the participants.

 

By contrast, the performances in August/September 2023 provided more space for give and take, including returning moments and memorabilia. Due to the spontaneity of the encounters, the Memory Person and the passers-by had more freedom to participate and exchange objects.

Ethics of dialogue/‘commoning’

‘Commoning’ refers to art that is produced by, not only with, the participants. The Memory Person is the formation and interplay of relationships and their material effects that shape social space and animate memory cultures.

‘The wider challenge here is that of finding new ways of understanding forms of being-in-common that refuse or exceed the logic of identity, state, and subject. In other words: how to be in common without creating a community?’[8]

 

If ‘commoning’ is when people in a community or neighbourhood become equal in sharing their diverse memories, how does the prescribed content balance with individual conceptions of the monument?

The more reciprocal insights, the more equitable the dialogue and the more shared reflections and relationships can emerge.

 

Individual identities and property rights don’t apply, as is evident in the ‘materiality’ and ‘objecthood’ of the performative monument. The focus lies on togetherness and the common production of a new monument, whilst the particularities of each person involved gain space to express themselves.

‘The more reciprocal insights, the more equitable the dialogue and the more shared reflections and relationships can emerge.’[9]

 

The monument belongs to no one, though the objects the monument comprises signify belonging, which inheres in ‘commoning’.

Amanat

All memorabilia engender the dialogues. They resemble amanat, which is a Persian word meaning something that one gives to another person as a custodian. This requires awareness and trust – a sense of the reciprocal capacity and will to build a meaningful relationship.

The object becomes a signifier of a shared moment of remembrance and a common (emotional) value that represents other things such as the conversation, a memory, a loss or a personal or communal journey.

 

The amanat contributes and ‘transforms’ the world, memories, exile and identification.

The emerging performative monument becomes a common gift to creative exiles and society from all participants.

The different materialities of the performative monument speak for the coexistence of different voices and situations to which the artwork responds or is created within.

 

The silver brooches, for example, are given away, so they should be as durable as possible. The Memory Person provides a platform for (re)composing and (re)evaluating the objects. Objects converse with each other and provide a ‘language’ for often ineffable stories. There is no definite way of ‘reading’ them.

Diversity is the core of the performative monument, representing an anti-hierarchical, even decolonising understanding of what the Memory Person as a ‘living monument’ embodies.

 

The actual labour that needs to be done when underrepresented/invisible knowledge is sought out emerges. Contrasting the glorious surfaces of conventional monuments, the Memory Person allows for the contradictions, detours and failures that occur when people are building relationships. The Memory Person responds to recent decolonial debates and demands for monuments and statues of a contested, colonial past to fall.

The past is created by and about participants’ voices. The Memory Person performs it without repeating it.

[1] Liedeke Plate and Anneke Smelik, Performing Memory in Art and Popular Culture (London: Routledge, 2013), 2ff.

[2] Plate and Smelik, Performing Memory, 3.

[3] Plate and Smelik, Performing Memory, 5.

[4] Sebastian Adler, Spectator of the performance, 24 June 2023.

[5] Plate and Smelik, Performing Memory, 7.

[6] Plate and Smelik, Performing Memory, 7.

[7] Vera Hofmann et al., Commoning Art — Die transformativen Potenziale von Commons in der Kunst (Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2022), 34. https://www.transcript-verlag.de/media/pdf/f2/e6/9e/oa9783839464045.pdf. Unless otherwise indicated, all translations are by the authors.

[8] Harry Walker, ‘Equality without equivalence: an anthropology of the common’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 26, no. 1 (2020): 148, https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.13183.

[9] Walker, ‘Equality without equivalence’, 147.

bibliography

 

Hofmann, Vera, Johannes Euler, Linus Zurmühlen and Silke Helfrich. Commoning Art — Die transformativen Potenziale von Commons in der Kunst. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2022. https://www.transcript-verlag.de/media/pdf/f2/e6/9e/oa9783839464045.pdf.

‘global dis:connect’. Käte Hamburger Research Centre global dis:connect, 2023, www.globaldisconnect.org.

Plate, Liedeke and Anneke Smelik. Performing Memory in Art and Popular Culture. London: Routledge, 2013.

‘Relocating Modernism: Global Metropolises, Modern Art and Exile (METROMOD)’. METROMOD, 2023, www.metromod.net.

Walker, Harry. ‘Equality without equivalence: an anthropology of the common’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 26, no. 1 (2020): 146-66. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.13183.

citation information:
Bublatzky, Cathrine and Franziska Windolf, ”Not only cast steel or chiselled stone; people can be monuments too’: an exploration of the Memory Person’, Ben Kamis ed. global dis:connect blog. Käte Hamburger Research Centre global disconnect, 12 December 2023, https://www.globaldisconnect.org/12/12/not-only-cast-steel-or-chiselled-stone-people-can-be-monuments-too-an-exploration-of-the-memory-person/.
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Alumna but not forgotten: an interview with Christina Brauner

christina brauner

What were you working on during your time at global dis:connect?

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The Kinks: Waterloo Sunset  

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Andreas Greiner takes up fellowship

In November Andreas Greiner commenced his term as a associated fellow at global dis:connect. Welcome. Andreas Greiner is a fellow at the German Historical Institute Washington. He specialises in infrastructure networks and their spatiality and materiality in the 19th and 20th centuries. At gd:c Andreas is studying intercontinental civil air routes between 1919 and 1947. The project examines the codification of aerospace as well as the diplomatic and economic factors driving intercontinental airway extension. Continue Reading