While critics have envisioned both a “post-ethnic” and “post-racial” turn in the United States over the past two decades, it cannot be denied that ethnicity “sells”: Ethnic labels are an important economic factor, ethnic festivals experience a revival, and there is a growing market for ethnic difference and racialized commodities. At the same time, the character of ethnic identification is changing: Marilyn Halter in her study
Shopping for Identity speaks of a “portable ethnicity” based on symbolic structures rather than on concrete cultural practices. The buying power of African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans is increasing faster than that of white households, and demographers predict a population development that will make white Anglosaxons a minority by 2050, a trend often described as a “browning of America.” Ethnic and racial minorities utilize their diverse cultural backgrounds and historical experiences to preserve and express their respective and often distinct group identities through consumerism and specific commodities.
Against this background the symposium will explore the production and performance of ethnic and racial identities as well as the consumption of “ethnic” and racialized products in the complex field between representational politics, economics, and consumerism. We will investigate new emerging ethnic imaginaries and the ways in which they respond to the re-invigoration of ethnic
identification and to the increased visibility of nonwhite Americans in the United States.
International Symposium “Selling Ethnicity and Race”
Institute for American Studies, Leipzig University
04107 Leipzig, Germany Team of Organizers
Prof. Dr. Gabriele Pisarz-Ramirez
American Studies Leipzig / Minority Studies
Gabriele Pisarz-Ramirez is Professor of Minority Studies at Leipzig University and holds the first and currently only chair in that field in Germany. After graduating from Leipzig University with a translator’s degree in English and Spanish, she earned her PhD from the same institution by writing a dissertation on literary translations, using Stephen Crane's short stories as an example. She has taught at the universities of Göttingen, Bielefeld, Bayreuth, and Groningen (Netherlands). In 2009, Pisarz-Ramirez was guest professor at the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University.
Her research focuses on the role of race and ethnicity in the US, migration, and inter-American Studies. Here, she is particularly interested in ethnic popular cultures, Border Studies, and changing concepts of ethnicity. She has published widely and is the author of MexAmerica: Genealogien und Analysen postnationaler Diskurse in der kulturellen Produktion von Chicanos/as ("MexAmerica: Genealogies and Analyses of postnational Discourses on the Cultural Production of Chicanos/as"). With Markus Heide, Pisarz-Ramirez has edited the 2008 American Studies/Amerikastudien special issue "The Americas in the Nineteenth Century: Inter-American Perspectives on U.S. Literature."
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Dr. Frank Usbeck
English and American Studies
Technische Universität Dresden
Frank Usbeck studied American Studies, Modern and Contemporary History, Journalism, and American Indian Studies at Leipzig University and at the University of Arizona. He earned his Dr. phil in 2010 with a study on the appropriation of the German euphoria for Native Americans in Nazi propaganda 1925-1945. His current work as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at TU Dresden aims at preparing his second book which discusses the cultural work of, and ceremonial storytelling in, US soldiers’ weblogs ( milblogs). Usbeck is a member of the Leipzig-Dresden research initiative “ Selbstbewusste Erzählungen.”
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Anne Grob, M.A.
Anne Grob is an Adjunct Lecturer at the Institute for American Studies (ASL) at Leipzig University, where she earned her Master’s degree in American Studies, and Cultural Anthropology. She spent a total of 2 years in Montana, taking classes in the Native American Studies Department at Montana State University, and completing internships at the American Indian Council and the Museum of the Rockies. As a visiting research scholar at the Anthropology Department at Montana State University, she prepared for her first fieldwork in a tribal community and returned for further research on a regular basis. Currently, she is a PhD candidate at ASL and her dissertation project examines tribally-run higher education efforts in the US and New Zealand. She finished two extended fieldwork periods in the US and New Zealand, and worked as a visiting PhD scholar in residence with the National Institute of Maori Education at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, New Zealand for a year (2011-2012). Anne Grob has co-organized the Postgraduate Forum in 2010 and published articles in Journal Ethnologie, COPAS (Current Objectives in Postgraduate American Studies), Arbeitstitel, and with Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
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Maria Lippold, M.A.
Maria Lippold is an Assistant Lecturer at the Institut for American Studies at the University of Leipzig. After studying abroad as the German Language Fellow at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, USA, she earned both her BA and MA degrees at American Studies Leipzig (ASL), where she is currently a PhD candidate. In her dissertation project, she focusing on forms of fragmentation in Japanese North American literature by Hawaii and Canadian authors. Maria Lippold has co-edited ASL’s graduate-level journal aspeers 3 (2010). Additionally, she co-organized the Institute’s second MA-level graduate conference in 2011 as well as the 2012 international symposium “Hemispheric Encounters: The Early United States in a Transnational Perspective.” Maria Lippold has previously been involved in the initiation of ASL’s Serving Learning module which resulted in a publication in the special issue “Service-Learning in the Humanities” in Interdisciplinary Humanities (Fall 2012).
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Diana Labisch, B.A.
Being an Au Pair and hence being part of an American host family in Northern Virginia, I experienced the U.S. and its multifaceted places, histories, and people. This finally encouraged the decision to attend the American Studies BA program at the University of Leipzig. Graduating in 2011, I have been accepted to the MA program in the same year, which made me part of the editorial team for the fifth issue of aspeers: emerging voices in American studies.
During my studies I spent one semester at the American University in Washington DC, where I studied “New Media and Journalism,” which not only included courses, but also an internship at the German-American Heritage Museum of the USA. Furthermore, I attended Harvard’s summer school program on Film studies, particularly dealing with the genre of gangster movies. In addition, I also went to Brest/France for one semester focusing on “Le Cinéma Anglophone.” Prospectively, I would like to apply for a PhD program in which I can continue my research in the academic fields of American studies and Film studies.
Wiebke Kartheus, B.A.
Wiebke Kartheus is a second-year MA student of American studies at Leipzig University. Together with her cohort she edited the 6th issue of the MA peer-reviewed journal
aspeers entitled “American Memories.” In the current semester she is one of two supervising editors of this project which will publish the 7th issue entitled “American Anxieties” in 2014. Having earned her Bachelor’s degree in World English studies and art history, Wiebke’s research interests lie at the intersection of Cultural studies and art history with special regard to aesthetic response and the politics of art criticism in relation to race, ethnicity, and gender. For the moment her analyses are overall informed by theories of race and the body as well as queer theory and post-structuralism. Her fascination with multidimensional texts caused Wiebke to engage in mediums that combine different textual and semiotic qualities, such as graphic novels or music videos. Copyright Information
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