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Junior Research Group "Sexualities, Political Orders and Revolutions in Africa" – Dr. Serawit B. Debele

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Questioning African Studies in Germany

The Junior Research Group is proud to be part of the project "African Studies in Germany through the lens of Critical Race Theory" of the funding initiative "Aufbruch - Neue Forschungsräume für Geistes- und Kulturwissenschaften" of the Volkswagen Foundation

The project started from the observation that a canon of academic literature has emerged in African Studies at German universities that has gained a dominant influence on research and teaching. It will investigate the extent to which this canon of literature is still shaped by the colonial roots of African Studies in Germany and thus perpetuates white perspectives on the continent.

Underlying this project is Critical Race Theory (CRT), which originated in the US and argues that the category of race is socially constructed and not biologically based. CRT assumes that racism is deeply rooted in society and its institutions.

African FeminismS Past and Present

Intersectionality theory has come closest to a response to the question regarding how identities function in telation to multiple injuries. Its paradigmatic utility, however, remains in question, precisely because it is built upon a presumption that stabilises certain forms of oppression for Black women (the triad of race, gender and class), without illuminating how it is that Black women find themselves permanently located at that intersection. Stated differently, in intersectional theory, Black women cease to be historical – and thus political – subjects. What is left out of our purview are the specific historical trajectories through which women emerge (or which demand women’s appearance) at the ‘intersection’ as either female, or Black, or both. It is, in other words, not enough to simply highlight discrimination, but rather to also ask what it is that different forms of discrimination do at particular historical conjunctures.

In 2022, the Junior Research Group conducted a research debate series consisting of various lectures of experts on and around the topic of African FeminismS.


The Junior Research Group is proud to contribute to the research of the "Doctoral College for Intersectionality Studies" focusing on inequalities and discriminations shaped by gender, race, dis*ability, age or economic class manifesting themselves in the form of sexism or racism. In this way, social attributions and positions emerge, which are also expressed in identities. These, however, are always multifarious. Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term "intersectionality" in the late 1980s to indicate that different forms of power, privilege and discrimination interact (you can find basic connections here). For example, a person may be discriminated against sexistically, but as a white person, be part of racial discrimination and privileges thus obtained. This approach has established a transdisciplinary research and social movement from Gender and Black Studies as well as Black Feminism, which thinks together different fields of power and discrimination in given complexities.
Dr. Serawit B. Debele is co-leader of the Research Group 2 of the Doctoral College focusing on "communication" and discussing formats, media and spaces in the context of intersectionality.

Verantwortlich für die Redaktion: Dr. Serawit B. Debele

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