Dear DGfA members,

Our first townhall meeting will take place on Friday, November 27, 2020 between 2 and 5pm.
It will be organized in cooperation with the Obama Institute in Mainz. You will receive an invitation link via e-mail. We hope, that this event will help to stay in touch in difficult times, as well as contribute to our ongoing discussion on the future of American Studies in Germany, particularly in the context of the recent controversy about the “Statement against Racism”.

The planned GAAS Townhall will consist of two parts: First, a roundtable discussion that focuses on scholarship and teaching and will address three broad themes: a) Diversity, Racism, and anti-Racism in research as well as in teaching American Studies in Germany; b) the traditions and futures of “activist scholarship” within (and without) the GAAS; c) the panelists’ individual visions for the futures of American Studies. This roundtable will be conducted in English.

The roundtable will be moderated by GAAS Executive Director Catrin Gersdorf, participants include Mita Banerjee (as a founding member of the Diversity Roundtable, and faculty member of the host Institution), Helen Gibson (FU Berlin, as a current member of the DR speaker team), Rebecca Brückmann (Bochum, representing the historians within the GAAS) as well as GAAS Vice President Karsten Fitz (Passau). One further group has accepted our invitation and will nominate their representative soon.

After a break we will continue with a second session, which will be different in character. It will be a Q&A session with us, the three board members, making themselves available for questions and concerns, as well as a few advisory board members, who will join us for this event. The Q&A session will be moderated by former GAAS president and Amerikastudien editor Alfred Hornung and deal with bylaws, elections, questions of inequality, and blind spots. We also want to discuss to what extent the GAAS can and should remain an efficient body in keeping American Studies well represented at German universities.

This second part of the Townhall will be conducted in German (as is customary at membership meetings, as you know, even though this will not be an official membership meeting). There are legal issues, which would be too confusing to discuss in English. This would be an opportunity for all GAAS members to pose questions, argue their point of view, for example concerning the makeup of the advisory board and the electoral process, or any other points that come to mind regarding our institutional structures.

For clarification we want to add that the GAAS Townhall does not represent a membership meeting (which will be held in a format to be determined in 2021). Therefore, there will be no voting or elections on November 27; however, we thought that it would be helpful to try this instrument to keep the communication within the GAAS going during these taxing times.

Best wishes,

Philipp Gassert, Karsten Fitz, and Catrin Gersdorf