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. In the absence of public commemoration, African diaspora artists and creative writers have preserved the stories of these forgotten victims of the Third Reich. Probing the boundaries of Holocaust memory and representation, this talk draws attention to a largely unrecognized artistic corpus that challenges the erasure of Black wartime history.
Among the examples that will be discussed are the wartime internment art of Surinamese painter Josef Nassy, the jazz fiction of Canadian writer Esi Edugyan, and the photomontages of Scottish artist Maud Sulter. These works decolonize Holocaust memory by revealing the embeddedness of African diaspora experience within Holocaust history.
Hosted by Sarah Phillips Casteel & Rosa de Jong.
Sarah Phillips Casteel
Sarah Phillips Casteel is Professor of English at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, where she is cross-appointed to the Institute of African Studies and the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture. Her most recent books are Calypso Jews: Jewishness in the Caribbean Literary Imagination (2016), which won a Canadian Jewish Literary Award, and the co-edited volume Caribbean Jewish Crossings: Literary History and Creative Practice (2019). Last spring she was a visiting fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and in 2021 she held the Potsdam Postcolonial Chair in Global Modernities at the University of Potsdam, Germany. Her book Making History Visible: Black Lives Under Nazism in Literature and Art is forthcoming from Columbia University Press.
Rosa de Jong
Rosa de Jong is a PhD Candidate at the Department of History at the University of Amsterdam, and a Guest Researcher at the KITLV (Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies) and at NIOD (Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies). In 2022 she was awarded the Alexander Grass Memorial Fellowship at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for her research project, “From European Ports to Caribbean Homes: Second World War Refugees in Global Transit.” This project, which has also been funded through The Dutch Research Council (NWO), investigates the refugees who fled during the Second World War from the Dutch Low Countries via different European ports to the Caribbean, ending up mainly in Jamaica, Suriname, Curaçao, and Cuba.
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