Summer Lecture Series 2023 – German Historical Institute London

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Date / time: 9 May - 27 June, 5:30 pm

German Historical Institute London (and via Zoom)

The German Historical Institute London invites you to its upcoming Summer Lecture Series 2023. Lectures are held in a hybrid format at the GHIL and via Zoom. Lectures feature topics of general interest to British and German historians. Papers are normally presented in English; knowledge of the German language is not necessary for participation.

Please visit our website to register for each lecture:

9 May 2023 (5.30pm BST)

‘In ein fremdes Land’ (Into a Strange Land): Sex, the Political, and Black Domesticity in Post-War Germany

Herman Bennett (Queen Mary University of London/City University of New York)

Imagining the African American military experience during and immediately after the Second World War as a conscripted diaspora, ‘Into a Strange Land’ directs our attention to a Black masculine political culture mediated by sex and domesticity that engenders a distinctively American incarnation of Afro-Germans.

Herman L. Bennett is Distinguished Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center and Director of the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC). He was recently named a Global Professorial Fellow at Queen Mary University of London, which comes with a three-year residency. Notable publications include Colonial Blackness: A History of Afro-Mexico (2009) and African Kings and Black Slaves: Sovereignty and Dispossession in the Early Modern Atlantic (2019).

13 June 2023 (5.30pm BST)

India’s Atmospheric Modernity: Smoke, Particulate Matter, and the Modern City

Awadhendra Sharan (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi)Around the mid nineteenth century, air pollution began to be discussed in India, especially in its largest cities, Calcutta and Bombay. The concern was with black smoke and the impact that this had on the quality of urban life, human health, and economic efficiency. In time, visible smoke yielded to invisible particulate matter as a serious object of concern. And, more recently, heat waves and extreme weather events have become significant public issues. In my lecture, I revisit these earlier historical concerns around air quality, underlining both their specificity and what lessons they have to offer to us in the age of the Anthropocene.

Awadhendra Sharan is Director and Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi. His research interests are in the fields of urban and environmental studies. He is the author of Dust and Smoke: Air Pollution and Colonial Urbanism. India, c.1860–c.1940 (2020) and In the City, Out of Place: Nuisance, Pollution, and Dwelling in Delhi, c.1850–2000 (2014). His ongoing research is on climate thinking and urbanism in India.

20 June 2023 (5.30pm BST)

Homer’s Heroes in Early Modern Germany: A Translational Anthropology

Regina Toepfer (University of Würzburg)

In this lecture Regina Toepfer will present her concept of translational anthropology and show how philological comparisons can reveal patterns of thought, systems of knowledge, and values held by historical individuals and societies. She considers literary translations to be key anthropological texts and sees shifts in meaning between the source and target text not as aesthetic shortcomings, but as cultural gains.

This model will be presented through an analysis of the first translation of Homer into German in 1537/8. Simon Schaidenreisser’s Odyssee offers numerous insights into social norms, ideals, and difficult issues in the early modern period. For example, core ideas about poetry, politics, and religion, about morality, masculinity, and family, and about guilt, misfortune, and death are addressed in the invocation of the muse and the assembly of the gods at the beginning of Homer’s epic.

Regina Toepfer is the Chair of German Philology at the University of Würzburg, the Spokesperson of the German Research Foundation Priority Programme 2130 ‘Early Modern Translation Cultures’, and the President of the Medievalists’s Society (Mediävestenverband). Her research interests include translated literature, narratology, and gender studies. She recently published a study on Infertility in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Premodern Views on Childlessness (2022).

27 June 2023 (5.30pm BST)

The Perception of Colonial Cultural Goods and Human Remains among Communities in the Former German Colony of Togo in the Context of the Restitution Debate

Kokou Azamede (University of Lomé)

The issue of restitution continues to animate public debate in both European and African societies. The search for ways and means to present the problem and to involve communities is becoming a challenge for some African leaders because opinions on the issue tend to diverge between the communities and social groups concerned, depending in part on the quality of information available to them. This lecture aims to show the perception of colonial cultural goods and human remains among communities of the former German colony of Togo, now located in Togo and Ghana, and how their positions have developed in response to the social changes that have occurred in their respective environments.

Dr Kokou Azamede is Associate Professor in the Department of German Studies of the University of Lomé. His research focuses on transcultural studies, German missions and colonialism, and German colonial photography in West Africa. He has received postdoctoral fellowships from the Hanns Seidel, Volkswagen, and Fritz Thyssen Foundations, as well as from the German Academic Exchange Service and the Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa. He is the 2022 laureate of the Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm Award.