Racial Classification and Human Rights in the Transatlantic Order: Popular Literature and Journals in eighteenth-century Germany (ASECS 2022, Baltimore)
Racial Classification and Human Rights in the Transatlantic Order: Popular
Literature and Journals in eighteenth-century Germany [German Society for
Eighteenth Century Studies (DGEJ)]
Sigrid G. Köhler, Eberhard Karls Universität
The trade triangle between Europe, Africa, and the Americas, which underpinned the transatlantic order in the eighteenth century, was not only based on slave trade but also created new European consumption habits. The latter increasingly depended on luxury goods imported from overseas. Through the demand for ‘Kolonialwaren’ and the export of manufactured goods to Africa, the old German Empire formed an active part in the intricate semiotic and material transatlantic networks. Highly aware of these entanglements, eighteenth-century German journals and popular literature and culture inserted themselves into pertinent political debates by exposing the inhumane aspects and by explicitly questioning the lawfulness of the slave trade and slavery itself. These intellectual interventions often lead to highly ambivalent texts and ambiguous aesthetic representations that did not correspond with enlightened narratives and teleologies of human progress.
The panel will explore the contradictions and problems which surround legal deliberations and racial classification in these media. We invite papers that
1) analyze how racial stereotypes or racial classification featured in the texts and how these notions were squared with the idea of universal human equality and basic rights; 2) that examine whether these texts showed an awareness of the fundamental interdependency of the capitalist world order and the institution of slavery; or 3) that pay specific attention to the representational strategies, plot conventions, scopic regimes, semantic fields, lexis etc. which the formats under scrutiny employed.
The panel seeks contributions on – mainly but not exclusively – German popular culture and media of the long eighteenth century.