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Africa, America, Europe
panel discussion
Black Atlantic
W.E.B. Du Bois
The Theory and Practice of Black Identities
Free admission
Black Atlantic
Discussion with David Levering Lewis (Historian, New York), Shamoon Zamir (American Studies, London)
Host: Sieglinde Lemke (American Studies, Berlin)

Languages: English-German

W.E.B. Du Bois was born as an American in 1868 and died in Ghana in 1963. He was a forerunner of the Civil Rights Movement and of Pan-Africanism, as well as the first Afro-American Black to obtain a Ph.D. at Harvard University. With his concepts of "color line" and "double consciousness", Du Bois verbally captured the identity of Blacks in the USA in the early 20th century. Although he is linked to Berlin - where he stayed for some time - his main work, The Soul of Black Folk, has only recently been translated into German. In this discussion, experts will shed some light on the work of this transnational thinker and ask what his ideas have meant, and still mean, for Germany and - conversely - what impact German philosophy and everyday reality had on Du Bois' work.

David Levering Lewis, Professor of History at New York University and author. Acknowledged as a leading Afro-American writer, his work has consistently explored themes around racialization, the Black Civil Rights' Movement, the realities of Afro-American life, and global imperialism. His historical focus is on Black American, European and African history.
Lewis' masterpiece is undoubtedly his double Pulitzer Prize award winning two-volume biography of W. E. B. Du Bois, examining the life and work of one of the most seminal thinkers in the 20th century.

Shamoon Zamir, Director of American Studies, King's College London, has specialised in twentieth century literature in both North and South America. A more recent interest has focused on issues in anthropology and poetry in the ethnopoetics movement. His 1995 book, "Dark Voices: W.E.B. Du Bois and American Thought", made a major contribution to scholarly research on W.E.B. Du Bois. At present, he is preparing a book on photography, literature and Native American Culture.

Sieglinde Lemke teaches at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies at the Free University of Berlin. Her research has explored the rich cultural hybridity created by Black cultures and the influence of transatlantic modernism. She has also published on the Harlem Renaissance, and especially Zora Neale Hurston, and written numerous articles on W.E.B. Du Bois.