Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Research and Conferences

Research Interests

  • the Anglophone novel
  • Black Atlantic and Diasporic Writing
  • Postcolonial Studies
  • Gender/Masculinity Studies and Queer Theory
  • Intersectionality
  • Cultural Studies
  • Popular and Visual Culture
  • Cultural Memory and the Archival Turn
  • Film and TV Studies
  • Post-WW II Theatre



Familial Feeling: Entangled Tonalities in Early Black Atlantic Writing and the Rise of the British Novel (Palgrave Macmillan 2021)

This open access book discusses British literature as part of a network of global entangled modernities and shared aesthetic concerns, departing from the retrospective model of a postcolonial “writing back” to the centre. Accordingly, the narrative strategies in the texts of early Black Atlantic authors, like Equiano, Sancho, Wedderburn, and Seacole, and British canonical novelists, such as Defoe, Sterne, Austen, and Dickens, are framed as entangled tonalities. Via their engagement with discourses on slavery, abolition, and imperialism, these texts shaped an understanding of national belonging as a form of familial feeling. This study thus complicates the “rise of the novel” framework and British middle-class identity formation from a transnational perspective combining approaches in narrative studies with postcolonial and queer theory. 

More information here.


The Privilege of Crisis: Narrative Patterns of Masculinities in English Colonial and Postcolonial Literature, Photography and Film (Campus 2011)

Based on the supposition that the often-cited discourse of "the crisis of masculinity" is privileged in the sense that it re-centres White hegemonic masculinity, this study deals with the analysis of narrative patterns of masculinities in colonial fiction by H. Rider Haggard, Rudyard Kipling and Joseph Conrad as well as colonial photography. Juxtaposed to the colonial sources are readings of postcolonial novels by Hanif Kureishi, Zadie Smith and J.M. Coetzee as well as of films by Stephen Frears and Neil Jordan. This focus of the study on discursive peak phases of colonial and postcolonial crises of masculinity in modern and postmodern times, respectively, is not based on the assumption that masculinity is, in fact, in crisis. Rather the analysis foregrounds the rise of crises narratives which turn crisis into a privileged narrative pattern of hegemonic masculinity. While the colonial sources suggest a stronger containment of the crisis of masculinity, postcolonial texts self-reflexively expose these crisis tendencies. Nonetheless, both periods produce re-privileging tendencies that are explored in greater detail.
In addition to its interdisciplinary literary and cultural studies approach, the study is situated in critical theoretical fields such as postcolonial studies and queer theory and aims at an interdependent/intersectional understanding of gender - here most explicitly masculinity.

More information here.


Research Projects

Tales of the Diasporic Ordinary. Aesthetics, Affects, Archives (TODO) (2022 to 2027)

Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC)

More information here.


Re-Imagining the Archive: Sexual Politics and Postcolonial Entanglements (2019 to 2023)

Joint research project of Prof. Elahe Haschemi Yekani (HU, English and American Studies) and Prof. Silvy Chakkalakal (HU, European Ethnology) as well as Prof. Wallace D. Best (Princeton University, Religion and African American Studies) funded by a Princeton-HU Strategic Partnership Grant.


The archive and questions of its politics, infrastructures, and technologies are a prominent focus of research within Gender, Sexuality, and Postcolonial Studies. In recent years, universities, museums of natural history as well as ethnological museums, national archives and scientific collections, both in North America and in Western Europe, have undergone increased academic as well as public scrutiny regarding their historical entanglements with colonial history. The focus has been on the specific material collected and preserved, the archives' content and its representation, the production of data (cultural, social, biological, etc.) as well as the very politics of selection, the historical narratives they enable, and the gaps they necessarily entail. Whose and what knowledges are archived and what is absent? What concepts of history, belonging or life itself do different archives generate and pass on?
In this project that comprises extensive teaching and research exchange under the joint roof of the Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies (ZtG) at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Princeton University’s Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies (GSS) we want to re-imagine the archive as a research tool and laboratory that encompasses alternative ways of creating academic knowledge. Against the simple binary of absence/presence, we argue that the idea of re-imagining the archive needs to rest on more complex methods than "rescuing" forgotten artefacts and/or adding the stories of minoritized subjects to existing historical narratives. Re-imagining here means reading both with and against the grain, focusing on the messy entanglements and the sexual politics that any form of archiving entails. This includes work with the material objects, classificatory orders, and the socio-material, spatial, and temporal constellations that configure archives. How, in short, can we re-imagine the archive in such a way that the practice of imagination becomes a methodological tool in itself.


Conference: Unsettling Archives, 7 to 9 July 2022

Digital Conference: Re-Mapping Memory: Possibilities of Postcolonial and Anti-Racist (Counter)Archiving, 18 March 2021

More information here.


Revis(ualis)ing Intersectionality (2019 to 2022)

Joint research project of Prof. Dr. Elahe Haschemi Yekani (HU, English and American Studies) and Prof. Dr. Magdalena Nowicka (German Center for Integration and Migration Research (DeZIM) funded by the Volkswagen Foundation.

More information here.


Critical Habitations: Research Network and Blog

Since its emergence cultural studies has been concerned with the historical materiality of particular moments, places and conjunctures. The blog criticalhabitations serves as a platform of exchange among practitioners of cultural studies, who - as researchers, teachers, activists - remain committed to cultural studies' focus on a specific here and now, a concrete time and place. It takes as its starting point the notion of habitation. How do we dwell in the traditions of cultural studies in our diverse locations? Have some of our categories of analysis and terms of engagements become mere habits? Is cultural studies a space of dissent, or a homely space? For whom?

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Experimental Humanities
Lectures and Workshop at ICI Berlin, 14-15 November 2019

Pluralising Practices
Workshop at the University of Arts and Design Linz, Austria, 1-3 June 2016

Rupture Dynamics: Interrogating the Here and Now of Cultural Studies
Workshop at the University of Konstanz, 26-28 June 2014

Quo Vadis Cultural Studies
Workshop and Public Roundtable Discussion at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 2 November 2012


The Body in Cultural Studies: Scientific Network funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) (2007 to 2011)

Das von der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) von 2007 bis 2011 geförderte Netzwerk »Körper in den Kulturwissenschaften« bemühte sich darum, die unterschiedlichen Konzeptionen und Begriffe von Körper, wie sie in den Kulturwissenschaften und darüber hinaus kursieren, kritisch zueinander in Bezug zu setzen. Dabei verfolgten die Mitglieder diese Zielsetzungen: Zunächst wurde eine Bestandsaufnahme vorgenommen, welche die begrifflichen und theoretischen Grundlagen der Diskussionen um Körper in den Kulturwissenschaften in den Blick nahm. In einem zweiten Schritt wurden die dabei gewonnenen Erkenntnisse kritisch zueinander ins Verhältnis gesetzt und so Gemeinsamkeiten und Unterschiede, Zusammenhänge und Brüche der verschiedenen Ansätze transparent gemacht. Ziel des Projekts war die Erstellung eines »Kompendiums Körper in den Kulturwissenschaften«. Eine solche Referenzdarstellung soll nicht allein die Ergebnisse der beiden ersten Schritte problemorientiert zusammenfassen, sondern darüber hinaus zur gesellschafts- wie wissenschaftspolitisch notwendigen Kommunikation zwischen Kulturwissenschaften einerseits und Bio- bzw. Naturwissenschaften andererseits beitragen.

Erschienen als:

Netzwerk Körper. What Can a Body Do? Praktiken und Figurationen des Körpers in den Kulturwissenschaften. Frankfurt am Main/New York: Campus, 2012.


Conferences organised and co-organised

  • Lecture Series: Aesthetic Entanglements in Transnational Literature and the Arts, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, WiSe 2018/2019.
  • Entangled Diasporas: Shadow Archives in Black, Queer, and Postcolonial Studies. One-Day Symposium at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, July 13, 2018.
  • Hartgesotten hegemoniekritisch. Symposium zu Ehren von Gabriele Dietze und Dorothea Dornhof. ICI Berlin und Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, January 19-21, 2017.
  • 15th EACLALS (European Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies) Triennial Conference: Uncommon Wealths: Riches and Realities, University of Innsbruck, April 14-18, 2014 (coordinator: Prof. Dr. Helga Ramsey-Kurz).
  • conference "Queer Again? Power, Politics and Ethics", Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, September 23-25, 2010 (coordinator: Prof. Dr. Eveline Kilian).
  • colloquium "Literature and Migration", Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, January 15-16, 2010 (cooperation of English Studies and Scandinavian Studies).
  • conference "Rethinking Narrative Identity: A Question of Perspective", Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, November 26-28, 2009 (coordinator Prof. Dr. Martin Klepper).
  • conference "Flexible Genders - Transgressive Bodies", Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, April 3-4, 2008 (coordinator: Prof. Dr. Eveline Kilian).
  • conference "De/Konstruktionen von Okzidentalismus. Eine geschlechterkritische Intervention in die Herstellung des Eigenen am Anderen", Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, June 21-23, 2007 (coordinator: PD Dr. Gabriele Dietze).
  • conference "Produktion und Krise hegemonialer okzidentaler Männlichkeit in der Moderne", Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, December 8-10, 2006 (coordinator: PD Dr. Ulrike Brunotte).
  • conference "Queering the Humanities/Que(e)r durch die Geisteswissenschaften", Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, June 17-19, 2004.