February 2018


W.E.B. Du Bois in Germany

Friday 23.02.2018 6:30 PM | Seminar Room 1

Admission: free entry

Organizer: Werkstatt der Kulturen/ Natasha A. Kelly


W.E.B. Du Bois in GERMANY

Talk and reading with Dr Natasha A. Kelly

Part of the BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2018 festival



Building on her last publication, “Afrokultur. Der Raum zwischen gestern und morgen” (Afro-culture. The space between yesterday and tomorrow), Dr Natasha A. Kelly will present the commonalities and differences, continualities and discontinuities in the production of knowledge from Du Bois to Ayim, as well as presenting a Afro-German perspective on “The Souls of Black Folk”.

In “The Souls of Black Folk” (1903), the Black American activist, philosopher and sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois refers to the importance of music in particular, which he regards as a specific form of communication in Black culture and establishes the ideological framework for the concept of “Afro-German”.

So it is no coincidence that contemporary Black producers of knowledge, such as the Black German poet, activist and scientist May Ayim in her 1995 collection of poems “blues in schwarz Weiss” (blues in black and white), select not only blues, the traditional form of expression, to impart their lived experiences of colonial racism in Germany. May Ayim uses various Adinkra symbols of the Ashanti people such as the Sankofa symbol, correspondingly inviting her readership to recognise the importance of her African heritage, bring it into the present and understand it as a source for interpreting the future.

In a perceived intermediate space – a space between yesterday and tomorrow – May Ayim reproduces knowledge that can be traced back to W.E.B. Du Bois’ sociological conceptions of “racial identity”. Conceptions that were formed not least during his two-year period of study in Germany.

W. E. B. Du Bois, who studied at today’s Humboldt University in Berlin from 1892 – 1894, experienced Germany as a “culture in search of a nation” (Du Bois 1940: 136), something that not only describes Germany’s social structure at the end of the 19th century, but at the same time reflects Du Bois’ lived marginalisation as a Black man in the USA.



Dr Natasha A. Kelly is a communication scientist and sociologist with the research foci of visual communication, colonialism and feminism.

The author, teacher and curator who was born in London and raised in Germany, has taught and given lectures at numerous institutions in Germany and Austria.

In her publications “Afroism” (2008), “Sisters & Souls” (2015), “Afrokultur” (2016) and also in her artistic works such as "EDEWA" (2010 - today), “Giftschrank” (Deutsches Historisches Museum, 2016/2017, Museum Schöneberg 2017) and “African_Diaspora Palast” (“Weltausstellung_Reformation”, Wittenberg 2017) she connects theory and practice and thus creates fruitful inter-connections between science, society and politics. Furthermore, she has been engaged in the Black community in Germany for many years, for example as a scientific consultant for the Zentralrats der afrikanischen Gemeinden (Central Council of the African Community).

In addition to her consulting work for various cultural institutions, she is the artistic director of the theatre series “M(a)y Sisters”, that has been staged at HAU Hebbel am Ufer Theater in Berlin since 2016.








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