The Postgraduate Forum (PGF) is a loosely organized network of early researchers from all disciplines affiliated with the field of American Studies in Germany. The PGF’s beginnings can be traced back to 1989, when a small group of doctoral candidates gathered under this label to discuss current theoretical trends and developments in the field of American Studies. Since then, the PGF has not only continuously grown in size; it has also evolved into a forum that enables early Americanists to share, discuss, and publish their own research and to participate in debates concerning the politics and practices of American Studies in Germany and beyond.
In Solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter: An Open Letter (June 8, 2020)
The current representatives of the Postgraduate Forum (PGF) of the German Association for American Studies (GAAS) want to take this moment to address the present situation in the United States. Not only have the ongoing circumstances of the Corona crisis been fatally affecting black communities by at least three times the rate of white individuals (APM Research Lab) due to systemic disparities and racist ideologies, acts of law enforcement before and during these troubling times have also led to the violent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many other black individuals as well as the arrests, injuries, and deaths of protesters calling for the stop of this very brutality at the heart of a white supremacist system that does not value black lives.
We want to wholeheartedly denounce these anti-black sentiments and violent forms of systemic racism in the United States—and everywhere in the world. We are outraged by the ways members of the federal government, especially the current American president, are failing to recognize their responsibilities for these criminal actions and are instead assigning blame to those challenging the status quo and standing up in the name of justice. We explicitly oppose the use of military equipment to control demonstrations as well as the threat to deploy U.S. troops to “dominate” protesters. We urge the authorities to act in defense of human rights by listening and responding to collective calls for reform instead of further marginalizing and oppressing already vulnerable communities.
In this respect, we want to express our support of liberation movements such as Black Lives Matter, including the innumerable global anti-racism efforts in the streets and online in the name of #nojusticenopeace. We offer our deepest condolences to the victims and their families, whose lives we continue to hold in the highest regards.
As scholars in the multidisciplinary field of American studies, we believe it is our duty to engage in decolonizing work in our research, our classrooms, and in the conversations we have with each other and with individuals outside of academia. We want to commit to dismantling supremacist systems by following prompts to amplify BIPOC voices, to read across intersections, to diversify our syllabi, to check our privileges, to speak up against injustice where we see it, and to take care of ourselves and others who need our help in times of adversity.
We believe that statements to support black lives must be accompanied by concrete actions. We thus want to give you the opportunity to sign your names below this letter in support of the BLM movement on a larger scale and of our letter specifically. You can do so through the following link: https://pgf2019.wordpress.com/in-solidarity-with-blacklivesmatter-an-open-letter/. We believe this is a fundamental measure signaling not only our collective solidarity with the victims of racial violence, police brutality, and white supremacy but also our commitment to contributing to a safe, sensitive, and supportive PGF environment that strives to #leavenoonebehind and thus backs, especially, colleagues and friends of color. This is also the kind of environment we want to help create for the GAAS at large.
We also want to offer an interactive platform featuring a variety of ways we can support causes and initiatives surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and beyond. We ask for your help in collecting and sharing any resources and/or to add new categories and items where you see fit. We hope to encourage your support in whichever way is possible for you in the present moment, taking into consideration that current insecurities surrounding COVID-19, racism-induced injustices, and other hardships affecting many of us in Germany as well as other parts of Europe and the world, too. You can access the list of resources here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1DZefKFGsfgo1HiJmxZh_K2PzCR1a8dnQYIw-y9sFGd8/edit?usp=sharing
Last but not least, we also also want to express our support of the initiatives taken by the Diversity Roundtable of the GAAS, whose position statement you can access here: https://dgfa.de/diversity-roundtable/.
We thank you all for your ongoing efforts as researchers, teachers, protesters, activists, and, especially, supporters of the PGF network, which will surely engender many more discussions on these topics in the years to come. Together we stand.
PGF Team Passau: Alexandra Hauke, Bettina Huber, Thomas Stelzl
PGF Team Stuttgart: Jana Keck, Whit Frazier Peterson, Melissa Schlecht
Postgraduate Representative on the advisory board of the DGfA: Judith Rauscher
The PGF’s annual conference gives early researchers (mainly at the Ph.D. level) an opportunity to present and discuss their work in progress among peers and to reach a wider audience by publishing the work presented as an article in the peer-reviewed online journal COPAS (Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies). The event is hosted by a different team of junior scholars each fall and the Call for Papers is sent out via the GAAS and PGF newsletters. For the annual conference, contributions from all disciplines of American Studies, such as literary and cultural studies, political sciences, history, international relations, are welcome. For further information on the upcoming conference, please contact the local organizers via firstname.lastname@example.org.
The PGF at the GAAS Conference
The current PGF team organizes different events for postgraduates and early scholars to socialize and to discuss matters of their interest at each GAAS’s annual conference. At present, the PGF meets for the following sessions:
The PGF Get-Together aims to welcome new scholars to the Postgraduate Forum of the GAAS and to facilitate exchange between early scholars of American Studies. In a casual setting, early researchers of all qualification levels can learn about the PGF and meet other graduates and postgraduates before the conference picks up pace.
PGF Meeting and Brown Bag Lunch
This event invites early scholars to discuss issues of concern to the Postgraduate Forum during a brown bag lunch organized by the current PGF team. In this forum, the PGF discusses practical matters and other concerns voiced by the attendees and it decides on the hosting of upcoming PGF conferences. The PGF’s open structure explicitly invites suggestions and input from everybody present at the meeting.
PGF Meet the Speakers
The Postgraduate Forum invites early scholars to participate in a panel discussion with the keynote speakers of the current GAAS annual conference. The event allows for open scholarly exchange between the speakers and yearly researchers as well as for intensive discussion about the conference’s general topic and the individual keynote lectures.