April 2021

Elisabeth Haefs is reading selected chapters from Damien M. Sojoyner's First Strike: Educational Enclosures in Black Los Angeles (2016). Rather than depicting the trope of the "school-to-prison pipeline", which he critiques, Sojoyner's differentiated analysis shows how the U.S. educational system - in this case, public schools in California - creates "enclosures" that heavily influence and fatally limit male African American youth. Although his topic is fairly removed from my own research, Sojoyner's approach to the concept of "enclosure" offers a very important perspective regarding my spatial and metaphorical take on the same word in relation to the social implications connected to community gardening in urban planning.

Florian Deckers is reading “‘Slangin’ Rocks . . . Palestinian Style’ Dispatches from the Occupied Zones of North America” by Robin D.G. Kelley, which was published in 2000 in an anthology by Jill Nelson titled Police Brutality. In his insightful essay, Kelley shares some of his own experiences with violent policing in California. In accordance with his discipline, the historian goes on and traces systematic violence of the state back to the colonial era. In the context of working on an article about the Black Lives Matter movement and some of the creative forms of dissent applied by its supporters, I re-read this article. It appears to have lost none of its relevance more than twenty years after it was written and urgently shows how violence towards people of color has been a fundamental problem of the on-going project that is the United States of America since its beginning. 

Our Past Reading
Prof. Dr. Josef Raab passed away on November 10, 2019 after a long battle against terminal illness. / © L. Raab

Thank you,

to our colleague, advisor, and mentor Josef Raab, who sadly passed away last weekend after a long and brave battle against terminal illness. Josef Raab was the chair of American Literary and Media Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen. He paved the way for the discipline of Inter-American Studies, significantly shaping its core debates. As a champion and supporter of the Ruhr Center for American Studies, he was also a pivotal figure for the establishment of our City Scripts research group. Josef Raab was a fighter of the good fight, never shy of supporting his students and of positively endorsing as well as tackling his colleagues. He never eschewed an argument he believed in. While he had to take a step back from in-person participation in recent months due to his illness, he was with us in thought and during our research. We lose a professor and mentor, who has accompanied and supported some of us since our bachelor’s degree, a colleague, who challenged us in academic discussions, and most of all a sincere and warm human soul.

All that is left for us to say now is, thank you and safe travels.