Organizing African identities in Germany: movements, migrations, and public positioning in the diaspora

Madeline J. Bass

The impacts of global Black Lives Matter protests laid alongside the deadly violence of the EU’s Mediterranean borders have brought increasing attention to the entanglements between race and migration in Europe, and the meanings of Afropean geographies. Despite this more critical turn, studies of African im/migrants still tend to approach and analyze groups in ways that do not take into account the specificity of African identities and indigeneity, Blackness, or the histories of African-European relations. Using qualitative and participatory methods to work with African migrant organizations and their members, this study will explore the relationships between African identity and race/ racialization in Germany’s public sphere. Organizations of African migrants process and reflect identity formation at the intersection between personal histories (culture, nationality, language, etc.) and broad national discourses (racialized legal systems, migration policies, etc.). In addition, African migrant organizations are a formation where African peoples make strategic decisions about their positions to the public, a perspective that has not been given careful attention in either academic or sociolegal discourses. In light of this, the project asks: How do African migrant organizations position themselves in the German public sphere? How does this strategic positioning relate to identity formations as African, Black, and/or migrant? What narrative emerges from these interactions, between Africa and Germany, migration and settlement, individual experiences and organizational shapes? This project will generate deeper understandings of how African migration and movement interacts with race and racialization in Germany, and add further nuance to the moving meanings of Blackness in Europe.

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