The Department of English and American Studies at Humboldt University presents a conference on the writer and activist Audre Lorde. She described herself as “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” and dedicated both her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing the injustices of racism, sexism, and homophobia. The conference will focus on her influence on the German context. Her ideas, social paradigms and her presence in Germany provide the framework for an engagement with society from politicized Black feminist female subject positions.
Significant activist, academic and authorial structures in Lorde’s life will be thematised at this event e.g. the political force of expression of her membership in the Combahee River Collective, a group of Black lesbian feminists. The founding of the publishing collective Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press (1980) by Barbara Smith and Cherrie Moraga are attributable to Lorde’s ideas and encouragement. Such monumental publications like This Bridge called my Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (1983) established, articulated and focused on the types of alliance that Lorde had visualized between Feminists/Scholars of color. These levels of connectivity will be a significant focus during the conference.
Lorde’s contributions in the context of Black feminist theory production as social criticism serve as points of departure for a reflective engagement with the narrative force of feminist theory and practice in Germany. The multifarious voices made visible by Lorde in transnational literary production by black feminists consist of significant critiques of the homogeneity apparent in feminist narratives in Germany. These critiques need to be examined, since they are generated by the publicly articulated forms of activism and epistemologies of black and/or female and/or lesbian subjects. It would be imperative to embed these in a multi-perspectival feminist cultural critique.
The main focus will on the central themes in Lorde’s work: her thoughts on self-determined lesbian parenting, her sexual politics on the erotic as a form of self-emancipation. The conference contributions will converge on Lorde’s challenge to recognize and know one’s own sexual power and to use it for one’s own well-being Lorde’s dedication to find language to articulate especially those issues and life perspectives which have been denied, ignored or appropriated, is an active impulse towards an explicitly feminist thematization of the relations between Afro-German diasporic subjectivities in the world. Lorde’s concept of self-emancipation and the contingent mutual liberation of black female stakeholders, their images of positive uses of power and forms of self-determination, in turn, firmly inscribes black lives and activity into the history of Black Activism in Germany. Audre Lorde’s encouragement is still effective today; it lives on in the form and structure of the politically engaged feminist stance in Germany.
Maureen Maisha Eggers, Berlin 17.12.14
Unter den Linden 6
Organisers: Christine Vogt-William, Maisha M. Eggers und Eva Boesenberg
Speakers: Fatima El Tayeb, Kara Keeling, Gloria Wekker, Tracie Morris, Katharina Oguntoye, Peggy Piesche, Nicola Laurè Al-Samarai, Katja Kinder, among others
Information Sheet about the conference and Audre Lorde – download English version as a pdf here
Conference Program (download program as pdf)