German Studies Association "Family and Kinship Network"

GSA Family and Kinship Network
01.10.2020 - 04.10.2020
Simone Derix

The organizers of the Family and Kinship Network would like to propose two sessions for the German Studies Association meeting in Washington:

1. Family and Separation

Recent events across the globe, such as refugee crises in the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas, have placed the family front-and-center of current debates surrounding national borders, national belonging, citizenship, and composition of modern societies. The far-right Alternative for Germany, for instance, has called for only permitting heterosexual families of "German" origin in Germany. Meanwhile, as a point of comparison, the Trump administration has pursued punitive policies separating children from their parents at the US-Mexican border. While both cases have capitalized on short-term anxieties about integrating foreign populations, they are often fueled by deeply entrenched anxieties about population displacement, demographic shrinkage, and the destruction of the "traditional" family--a unit often touted as a source of stability in changing societies. This panel asks, then, how politicians, actors in society, and producers of culture in Germany and German-speaking contexts have contributed to and represented the issue of separating families in their works, discourses, policies, and laws. This panel furthermore interrogates the creation of new family units in the wake of the destruction of former family units. LGBT individuals or displaced persons, for instance, have historically had to form new friendships and families when their old kinship units were dissolved. This panel thus invites papers that explore the theme of separating and uniting family units from a variety of historical, literary, filmic, and artistic perspectives. These may range, for example, from papers discussing global trends, such as refugee crises, to microhistorical or local studies of divorce.

Please submit 350-600 word abstracts of papers by January 31 to Simone Derix ( and Monika Nenon ( and Alexandria Ruble ( All presenters at the GSA must be members.

2. Family and the Impact of Technology

This session will examine from an interdisciplinary perspective how technological changes had an impact on the family and the understanding of family and kinship in the modern age. In the course of modernity, a whole host of technological innovations are introduced: technological innovations like the printing press lead to an increase in recorded written knowledge and increasing literacy. New navigation’s techniques and technical instruments extend the range of humans’ experiences and lead to an expansion of international trade that includes new consumer possibilities, transcontinental expansion, and slavery. New technology creates new modes of production that increasingly free women of traditional tasks. New media influence how people communicate with each other. New technologies lead to disparities in weapons and new ways of conducting wars. Technological developments in medicine allow new treatments and forms of preventive health. Genetic technologies and fertilization medicine have changed the understanding of family and kinship and changed their dependency upon biology.
This session will try to illuminate the impact of some of these technologies. How do the new technologies change our understanding of the family? How do they change the way families and other relatives live together? How did contemporaries view these changes and even consciously employ them for certain purposes? In which forums and media are those views expressed? To what extent are these connected with changes in aesthetics. Are there differences in how they have an impact on different generations, genders, social classes, or ethnic groups?

Please submit 350-600 word abstracts of papers by January 31 to Simone Derix ( and Monika Nenon ( and Alexandria Ruble ( All presenters at the GSA must be members.


German Studies Association "Family and Kinship Network", 01.10.2020 – 04.10.2020 Washington, in: H-Soz-Kult, 17.01.2020, <>.