Frist: 2020-12-15

Call for Papers, Themed Issue Amerikastudien/American Studies

Picturing the Black Americas:
Race/Relations and Modes of Visual (Self-)Archiving

Guest Editors: Dustin Breitenwischer, Robert Reid-Pharr, Jasmin Wrobel

In recent months, images of anti-racist protest movements have circulated in media around the world. In order to enforce symbolically their socio-political claims, protesters and their supporters have relied on imagery that caters to the demands of dismantling white supremacy and, in turn, institutionalizing globally a self-sufficient, equal, emancipated, and hetereogeneous Black culture. Looking at the variety of banners, t-shirts, buttons, and activist videos, it is remarkable to see how protesters have almost seamlessly adapted and reiterated centuries-old archives of Black imagery and modes of (self-)archiving that range from portraits of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman to the resistant iconography of the Black Panther movement and the South African anti-Apartheid movement to the pop-cultural imagery of the Black Panther comic series. Thus relying on the power of imagery and reflecting upon the violence enacted by an oppressive iconographic stereotypization, the recent protest movements have inevitably shown that there is hardly a more pressing issue than the achievement of all-encompassing and unconditional social, political, and cultural recognition—a form of recognition, that is, which relies firmly on resistant and affirmative modes of visual representation and visual archiving. This special issue draws on the forcefulness of this socio-cultural and aesthetic struggle by way of delineating and highlighting paradigmatic modes of visual (self-)archiving in Black literature, media, and the arts across the Americas. It seeks to bring together contributions that discuss shared and differing traditions, transnational imaginaries, and the literary, media, and artistic pluralisms that have unfolded for centuries across Latin and North America. And yet, imaginations of Blackness in the United States and beyond are not merely enforcers of the subjugating and ultimately dehumanizing forces of a hegemonic gaze. Rather, they might serve as forceful challenges to this visual order and, as such, to the intricate aesthetic relation between white supremacy and racist iconography in so-called ‘Western’ philosophy and poetics. Think, for example, of the recent performances and manifestations of protest and resistance in front of the Zumbi dos Palmares monument in Rio de Janeiro or the projection of Fredrick Douglass onto the statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond, VA. Accordingly, the issue wants to add to recent research in Cultural and Media Studies that has focused on the crucial role of archives and archival practices in graphic narratives, comics, visual arts, and in the use of imagery in literature.

This themed issue centers both on the violence and oppression of colonial pictorial practices and the history, the presence, and the complex relatability of Black self-portrayal and resistant modes of visual self-archiving that serve as agents of social and cultural communication, resistance, and reform. It seeks to create a critical forum for scholars from the fields of American Studies, Africana Studies, African American Studies, Latin American Studies, and Media Studies to discuss modes of visual (self-)archiving and/as creative resistance of pictures and imagery in Black literature and the arts across the Americas. Aside from comic books and graphic narratives, contributions should focus on a wide array of visual media such as painting, photography, and the recently discussed memorial culture, and they should, at the same time, support the diachronic ambitions and the trans- and inter-American perspective of the issue. The issue takes seriously the need for interdisciplinary dialogue, in particular between the entangled fields of Latin American Studies and North American Studies.

The editors invite proposals for articles that deal with modes of visual (self-)archiving as outlined above. The proposal should consist of a 300-word description of the article and a short bio (not more than one paragraph). The editors seek for a heterogeneity of scholarly perspectives. The deadline for submission of the proposal is December 15, 2020. (The deadline for contributions will be March 31, 2021.) Please send your proposals to: and

Beitrag von: Jasmin Wrobel

Redaktion: Christoph Behrens