International Symposium "Selling Ethnicity and Race" - A Great Success

From November 6 to 8, 2013, American Studies Leipzig hosted the international symposium “Selling Ethnicity and Race: Consumerism and Representation in 21st-Century America.” At the opening dinner which was held at the restaurant Centralapotheke on November 6, the organizers Gabriele Pisarz-Ramirez, Frank Usbeck, Anne Grob, and Maria Lippold welcomed keynote speaker Marilyn Halter alongside most of the fifteen presenters from Germany and the United States.

About fifteen presenters and a number of interested individuals and students from Leipzig and other regions of Germany came together to discuss the performance and production as well as the consumption of race and ethnicity in the context of the complex realm reaching from representational politics to economics to consumerism. The investigation of new ethnic imaginaries and the ways in which they respond to the increased visibility in the United States in the keynote lecture, the six thematic panels, and the book reading with Jennine Capó Crucét proved to be productive and stimulating. The multitude of perspectives, methods, and approaches was reflected in the broad and interdisciplary spectrum of presentations covering diverse aspects of ethnic identity: politics, popular culture, advertisement, commodification, or representation among others.

The presentations thus not only displayed current trends and politics but also offered outlooks on future developments and asked pressing questions for further research in the cross section of race, ethnicity, and commodification. All participants gained valuable insights into the academic work of their colleagues and took the opportunity to discuss their work in person. As many of the presenters stressed, they particularly enjoyed the relaxed and open atmosphere among all participants, as well as the professional organization of the event. The presentations spurred interesting thoughts and comments which culminated in a lively final discussion. 


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