2007, Fri, Oct 19

New York and Berlin: the Draw of the Transcultural Capital

New York - Berlin: Cultural Diversity in Urban Space

Times Square, New York | (c) Frank Paul

Times Square, New York | (c) Frank Paul

Cities like Berlin and, to a much greater degree, New York, are nodal points of migration networks. How do these networks form or change the everyday life of the two cities? How do migrational movements and the experience of life in the diaspora influence creativity and artistic forms of expression? How do cultural institutions respond to the cities' cultural diversity? And what new strategies are they using to reach out to and involve their surrounding communities, and to attract interest from outside their home regions?


Introduction: Cultural Flux in New York – the Bronx: Music and Migration. Mark Naison (urban studies scholar & The Bronx African American Project, Fordham University, New York)


To be followed by a discussion with Mark Naison, Libertad Guerra (anthropologist, founder of 'Spanic Attack, Bronx Salon, New York), Kien Nghi Ha (political science and cultural studies scholar, Berlin) and Andreas Freudenberg (Werkstatt der Kulturen, Berlin-Neukölln).

Moderated by Susanne Stemmler (Center for Metropolitan Studies, Berlin/New York)


Andreas Freudenberg is the director of Werkstatt der Kulturen (‘Workshop of Cultures’) and initiator of the Carnival of Cultures and the world music competition musica vitale in Berlin. After graduating in pedagogy and sociology, Mr. Freudenberg worked as director of studies at the Evangelical Academy Bad Boll until 1986. As an associate academic, he co-founded the Documentation and Cultural Center of German Sinti and Roma in Heidelberg and worked there from 1986 until 1992. Subsequently, he spent two years on project work with Roma organizations in Romania. From 1999 until 2003 he was a member of the Council for the Arts in Berlin.


Libertad Guerra is a founding member of Alamala Press and conceptual coordinator for the ‘Spanic Attack collective, for which she has produced books, films, and independent CD's. A keyboardist by tradition and by choice. Ms. Guerra holds an MA in psychological anthropology and has been a guest speaker at anthropology and psychoanalysis symposia in New York, Québec, and Galicia. She lives and is an activist in the South Bronx where she hosts the Bronx Salon, a platform for public discussion of urban issues in the private environment of a regular house.


Kien Nghi Ha lives in Berlin where he conducts research in political and cultural studies. He has published numerous essays on transculturalization, identity politics, and colonialism in Germany. His research focuses on postcolonial criticism, migration, racism, and cultural studies. His publications include Ethnizität und Migration Reloaded. Kulturelle Identität,Differenz und Hybridität im postkolonialen Diskurs (1999/2004), Hype um Hybridität. Kultureller Differenzkonsum und postmoderne Verwertungstechniken im Spätkapitalismus (2005), and re/visionen. Postkoloniale Perspektiven von People of Color auf Rassismus, Kulturpolitik und Widerstand in Deutschland (2007, co-edited).


Mark Naison is a professor of African-American studies and history at Fordham University and Director of Fordham's Urban Studies Program. He is the author of three books and over 100 articles on African-American history, urban history, and the history of sports. Mr. Naison's most recent ventures include the Bronx African-American History Project, launched collaboratively with the Bronx Historical Society in 2002. Since that time, Naison has conducted over one hundred and fifty interviews with African-American professionals, community activists, business leaders and musicians who grew up in Bronx between the 1930's and the 1980's.


Susanne Stemmler is a post-doctoral fellow of the German Research Foundation at the Graduate Research Program Berlin-New York at Center for Metropolitan Studies in Berlin. She studied Romance and German literatures in Düsseldorf and Montpellier and received her PhD in 2004. Her research interests are in transcultural processes, French and Francophone literatures, Maghreb cinema, Orientalism/Islam, urban cultures, and popular music. Her current research project deals with the topic: “Hip Hop – the transcultural aesthetics of urban culture in New York, Paris, and Berlin.” She is a co-editor of the books Hip Hop und Rap in romanischen Sprachwelten. Stationen einer globalen Musikkultur (2007) and Metropolen im Maßstab. Erzählen mit dem Stadtplan (2007).


The conference is a joint event of the House of World Cultures and the Center for Metropolitan Studies, Berlin/New York.


Concept: Susanne Stemmler (Center for Metropolitan Studies) and Sven Arnold (House of World Cultures)