In a little known chapter of World War II, Black people living in Germany and occupied Europe found themselves caught up in the Nazis’ genocidal campaign. While not specifically targetted for elimination, Black Europeans and African, Caribbean and African American expatriates suffered a variety of forms of persecution during the war including ostracization, forced sterilization, incarceration in internment and concentration camps, and death. Among them were children of German colonial subjects such as Theodor Michael, jazz musicians such as Freddy Johnson, visual artists such as Josef Nassy, Resistance members such as anti-colonial thinker Anton de Kom, and colonial soldiers such as writer and statesman Léopold Sédar Senghor.
In the absence of public commemoration, African diaspora writers and artists have preserved the stories of these forgotten victims of the Third Reich. This talk draws attention to a largely unrecognized artistic corpus that challenges the erasure of Black wartime history. Consisting of both testimonial art by victims of the Nazi regime and postmemorial artworks that imaginatively reconstruct the wartime period, this corpus decolonizes Holocaust memory by revealing the embeddedness of African diaspora experience within Holocaust history. The literature and visual art Dr. Casteel will discuss illuminate the relationship between art-making and survival and the role of creative expression in the formation of collective memory.
Dr. Sarah Phillips Casteel is a Professor in the Department of English, cross-appointed to the Institute of African Studies and the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture.
Each year, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences awards the Marston LaFrance Research Fellowship to one of its outstanding faculty members, in order to facilitate the completion of a major research project that requires significant release time. Once the year has completed, the Fellowship winner delivers a lecture on the research they were able to accomplish during their time as the Marston LaFrance Fellow.
The Fellowship was established in 1979 by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in memory of Marston LaFrance, former Professor of English and Dean of Arts at Carleton University. Each year, the recipient presents a seminar or public lecture on some aspect of the research conducted while on the LaFrance Fellowship.
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