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<nettime-ann> McDeutsch symposium, Berlin, December 15, 2006
Geert Lovink on Tue, 31 Oct 2006 15:41:15 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime-ann> McDeutsch symposium, Berlin, December 15, 2006

McDeutsch Symposium

Museum für Kommunikation
Leipziger Strasse 16, Berlin
15 December 2006, 8 p.m.

“We have Lufthansa, Telekom, and n-tv——but we still lack a global perspective on our national issues.”(Krystian Woznicki, Artistic Director of the McDeutschProject)

“Save the German Language!” said the cover of Der Spiegel’s issue commemorating German Reunification Day. Demands for “more German” are on the rise in Germany. After “Quotas for German Music on Radio!” came the call for “Obligatory German in Gyms, Bars, and Schools!” Ensuing debates have even carried over to the popular Sabine Christiansen talk show, Germany’s so-called “ersatz parliament.”

Yet, what role does the German language really play today in propping up German national identity? Hasn’t this supposedly German cultural property long become common property worldwide? The Berliner Gazette Symposium McDeutschasks cultural mediators from Lomé, Accra/Heidelberg, New York, and Urbana-Champaign to reflect upon these questions.

Beginning from the assumption that we can learn something from perspectives inflected by Africa and America, the symposium opens up an unusual view of the German language: from a bird’s-eye perspective, cultural imports and exports—as well as cultural self-determination and determination by the other—will be reconsidered in a different way.    

Invited speakers are Rainer Ganahl (artist), Herwig Josef Kempf (culture consultant), Kofi Yakpo alias Linguist (rap musician/activist/researcher), and Yasemin Yildiz (cultural studies scholar).

The McDeutschSymposium is part of a larger project of the same name, in which we have surveyed fifty cultural workers from all continents (except Antarctica!) on the German language. All of the resulting protocols are being published under www.berlinergazette.de (through 31 December 2006). A selected number of the protocols will be collected in a bilingual publication (English/German), to be published by Kulturverlag Kadmos in December 2006.

McDeutsch is funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation.
For more information, please contact: Krystian Woznicki

Berliner Gazette e.V.
Schönhauser Allee 141a
D – 10437 Berlin
kw {AT} berlinergazette.de


Symposium Participants

Rainer Ganahl, born in 1966, is an artist. He was born in Bludenz, Austria, and studied philosophy and history at the University of Innsbruck, as well as art at the Hochschule für angewandte Kunst in Vienna (under Peter Weibel) and at the Akademie Düsseldorf (under Nam June Paik). Between 1990 and 1991, he was a member of the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum in New York. Since the early 1990s, his main interest has been in deconstructing languages in a political, identitarian context. As part of his artistic practice he has learned Japanese, Greek, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Korean, Russian, and Italian. In 1999, he had a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art in Vienna and represented Austria at the 48th Venice Biennial. In 2005, a retrospective of his work was shown at Columbia University Museum in New York. He has been living and working in New York for sixteen years. (www.ganahl.info)

Herwig Kempf, born in 1943, is a cultural mediator. Born in Karlsbad, Germany, he attended a humanist secondary school in Metten and graduated from the University of Munich and the Sorbonne in Paris in the 1960s, with majors in German, Philosophy, and Music. His international career began as an editor for the DAAD at the University of Hokkaido in Japan. In 1978, he started working for the Goethe Institute, with stations in Japan, China, Ethiopia, Yugoslavia, and Italy. He has been the director of the Goethe Institute in Lomé, Togo, since 2005, working for the first time in his career in a former German colony. Upon arrival in his new position, he was confronted with the tense situation. He experienced the consequences of unrest that occurred shortly after the presidential elections in 2005: an attack on the Goethe Institute—something that had never before occurred in the history of the institution. (www.goethe.de/ins/tg)

Kofi Yakpo, aka Linguist, born in 1970, is a linguist and political scientist. He studied linguistics, social anthropology, and political science in Cologne, Vanuatu, and Nijmegen, and law and management in London and Geneva. As a co-founder of the legendary hip-hop band Advanced Chemistry and under the artist name "Linguist,” he has recorded several albums, including 1992’s “Fremd im eigenen Land.” He is also the author of several short stories, essays, and a play, Schichtwechsel(Change of shift), which premiered at the Neukölln Oper in Berlin. In 2004, he was awarded the May Ayim Prize for Black Literature. He now heads the Africa desk of FIAN, an international human rights organization. As a linguist, he teaches and is involved in academic research; he is currently working on a descriptive grammar of Pichi, a Creole language of Equatorial Guinea. (www.der-linguist.de)

Yasemin Yildiz, born in 1969, is a literary and cultural studies scholar. She was born in Söke, Aydin, and grew up in Bremen, Germany. Her study of German literature led her from Germany to the US, where she received her Ph.D. from Cornell University. Since moving to the United States in the 1990s, she has been active in academia. Currently she is Assistant Professor of German at the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Among her interests are modern and contemporary German literature, literary multilingualism, minority literatures and cultures, migration, globalization, feminist theory, and transnational studies. Her publications include “Critically ‘Kanak’: A Reimagination of German Culture” in Globalization and the Future of German, edited by Andreas Gardt and Bernd Hüppauf, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2004, pp. 319-340. (www.germanic.uiuc.edu)

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