The Making of Mankind: Tracing Race & Racism

Universität Bielefeld (X-B2-103)
Lisa Baßenhoff / Andreas Becker / Julian Gärtner / Lena Gumpert / Ina Kiel / Malika Mansouri / Malin Wilckens, Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS), Sonderforschungsbereich (SFB 1288) „Praktiken des Vergleichens“
04.07.2019 - 06.07.2019
Julian Gärtner

The Annual Seminar is a renowned three-day conference format of Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS) approaching 11 years in 2019. In cooperation with the collaborative research center (SFB 1288) on “Practices of Comparing,” in this year’s conference international researchers at an early point in their careers will present their work. The conference deals with the construction of race as well as structural and practical dimensions of racism in an interdisciplinary framework.

Whether in natural sciences, social and human sciences or humanities, race as a concept or central category has been widely contested and criticized. But the construction of race is a crucial part in the processes of making mankind and as an analytical category it is intertwined with the emergence of disciplines in their respective epistemological contexts (e.g. “scientific racism”). The interdisciplinary conference will discuss connections to related discourses such as astronomy, medicine and health as well as philosophy.

Furthermore, racism often finds its expression in a more complex set of practices by actors, institutions and structures that transverses and involves other categories and relations of (in-)equality such as gender and class. For this reason, the conference asks for the status of racism in the reproduction of power relations, processes of social differentiation and material inscriptions, e.g. in schools as institutions, memory culture, state formation or the literary canon.

In all of this, we see practices of comparing as an innovative focal point: By making comparisons the subject and not the method of our conference we want to ask who is comparing, what is compared, when and in which regard? By detecting and describing concrete practices of comparing important insights can be gained into the ways race and racism are being made.

Keynotes will be held by Nikita Dhawan (Justus Liebig University Giessen), Manuela Boatcă (University of Freiburg) and Demetrius L. Eudell (Wesleyan University). Another highlight will be an experimental collage film by the artist Ojudun Taiwo Jacob and an exhibition of Diana Ejaita’s art works – both related to the topic of the conference.


The conference is open to public. There is no conference fee. Please register by sending an e-mail to

Thursday, July 4, 2019


Thomas Welskopp, Bielefeld University (BGHS)
Angelika Epple, Bielefeld University (SFB 1288)

2:15-3:45 KEYNOTE

Nikita Dhawan, Justus Liebig University Giessen "What difference does difference make?"

3:45-4:15 Coffee Break (& Transfer)

4:15-5:45 PANEL “Knowledge Production”

Devin Vartija, Utrecht University "Natural Equality and Racial Inequality: An Enlightenment Paradox?"

Sophie Bitter-Smirnov, University of Graz "Are There Hybrid Human Beings? Polygenism and Monogenism in the Context of Hybridism, Domestication and Man’s Place in Nature, 1750–1900"

Tatiane Muniz, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul "The materialization of race on institutional narratives around health"

5:45-6:15 Transfer

6:15-7:45 KEYNOTE

Demetrius L. Eudell, Wesleyan University "Race and Caste: Toward a History of Comparison"

Indikitchen, Herforder Str. 5-7, Bielefeld

Friday, July 5, 2019

10:00-11:30 KEYNOTE

Manuela Boatcă, University of Freiburg "The Centrality of Race to Inequality Across the World-System"

11:30-12:00 Coffee Break

12:00-1:00 PANEL “Ethics of Comparison – in Practice”

Sarah Lempp, University of Bayreuth "Doing Race via Comparison: Classification Work in Affirmative Action Practices in Brazil"

João Victor Nery Fiocchi Rodrigues, University of Pennsylvania "Slavery, State Formation and Citizenship: a comparative historical analysis of the United States & Brazil"

1:00-2:00 Lunch

2:00-3:00 PANEL “Ethics of Comparison – in Literature”

Senjuti Chakraborti, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences (Calcutta) "De-racing the literary canon: Representing race in Toni Morrison’s ‘Recitatif’"

Julian Gärtner, Bielefeld University "Comparisons and chains: Narrative ways of constructing race in Tocqueville’s Democracy and Beaumont’s Marie"

3:00-3:30 Coffee Break

3:30-5:00 PANEL “Structural Racism & Education”

Sheila Ragunathan, Goethe University Frankfurt "Feminist Classrooms as Sites of Tension: Links between Pedagogy, Affect and Relations of Power"

Vildan Aytekin, Bielefeld University "Inclusion: Organizing incompatible logics within school"

Dennis Röder, University of Augsburg "Back to the future: The invention of the category “racism“ and its shifts in meaning between the 1920s and 1960s. Didactical potentials for the German History classroom in the 21st century"

chaired by: Ouassima Laabich
Bunker Ulmenwall, Kreuzstr. 0, Bielefeld

Saturday, July 6, 2019

9:00-10:30 PANEL “Travel & Contact Zones”

Burrhus Njanjo, University of Cologne "“Contact Zones”: Representing race, science and Power relations in the movies Vénus noire (2010) and A united Kingdom (2016)"

Robrecht De Boodt, K. U. Leuven "Validation by Proximity: Medical and Racial Discourse in Sylva de Jonghe’s ‘Green Heart of Africa'"

Christian Hoffarth, Institut für Personengeschichte (Bentheim) "Like marvels, like monsters: Experiences of otherness and the emergence of racial thought in medieval European travel writing"

10:30-11:00 Coffee Break

11:00-12:30 PANEL “Race & Space”

Tathagato Ganguly, University of Dehli "Making Race, Making Space/Place: Comunas Negras and Extractivism in Northern Esmeraldas, Ecuador"

Meryem Choukri, University of London "Can Hamburg be decolonised? Notes on colonial amnesia, postcolonial remembrance and racism"

L. Katherine Smith, Western Colorado University "Constructing Race at the Ends of the Earth: The Hollow Earth and Open Polar Sea Theories in 19th Century American Literature"

12:30-1:30 Lunch

Sabine Schäfer, Bielefeld University


Julian Gärtner
SFB 1288, Universitätsstraße 25, 33615 Bielefeld
+49 521 106-3244

The Making of Mankind: Tracing Race & Racism, 04.07.2019 – 06.07.2019 Bielefeld, in: H-Soz-Kult, 13.06.2019, <>.