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The group German and American museum specialists with whom I met for the “Museums 2019” seminar in Washington in November 2019 got together on 21/22 April for a virtual follow-up seminar. We continued our discussions on how museums can reinvent themselves as places for social discourse.
This idea will be further explored in a panel discussion on 17 May, (7 p.m. CET), titled “Dialogues and Discourses: Talking about Tough Topics in Museums“. This event is part of the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the Fulbright program and was scheduled to prepare the “International Museum Day” (18 May). I will join other panel speakers in a mix of German and US museum specialists, representing four small and large institutions.
Please register here by 14 May.
Update, June 2021:
The event on 17 May attracted almost 300 participants. The panel discussion has been recorded and can be viewed here:
A few days ago, the German-American Institute Saxony (DAIS) held a live-streamed panel discussion on the Capitol riots. Together with moderator Sebastian M. Herrmann (American Studies Leipzig), the panelists, Melissa Gira Grant (The New Republic), Teresa Eder (Wilson Center) and I discussed the inconsistencies and an bizarre manifestations of the event, and contextualized it with the emergence of QAnon and the history of conspiracy theories in general. Considering bizarre costumes and the apparent “happening” character of the event, we asked in how far the protagonists take themselves seriously, and how the costumes play roles in group identity formation, as well as carry political messages. We also put the event in a transatlantic context and compared it with the rise of QAnon in Germany, especially their growing influence in German Covid-protests. In the context of cultural references, I pointed out that Indian imagery has long served to fuel anti-Americanism and xenophobia among the German extreme right and that co-victimization with Native Americans has become a staple feature among right-wing groups across Europe. This reference to “Indians” as the proverbial victims of “illegal immigration” occurs more and more in American anti-immigrant rhetoric as well, notably in the manifesto of the El Paso shooter (2019), and, in more abstract forms, in the bizarre costume of the “Q-Shaman.”
The discussion is available on the DAIS YouTube Channel.