„A large part of the white audience has not decided yet to listen to the Black subject’s voice”

Interview mit Grada Kilomba


Bild entfernt.Sie sind in Lissabon geboren, haben dort Psychologie studiert und leben nun seit Ihrer Promotion seit einigen Jahren in Berlin. Inwieweit hat Ihre eigene Migrationserfahrung oder die Afrikanische Diaspora Ihr Schreiben geprägt?

Kilomba: Immensely. Writing is not a neutral exercise, it is attached to a specific time, a specific place and history, it is written by a specific person, who has a specific biography. All these dimensions are inevitably revealed in any literary work. So, I think that when one writes, one always writes about oneself. One writes to have a better understanding of who one is: which historicity one has, in which political context one inhabits, which emotional conflicts one experiences, which relationship one has with others, who do we love. Literature, like other disciplines, creates the scenario to answer to very personal questions, otherwise one would not write.

Bild entfernt.Was bedeutet Heimat für Sie?

Kilomba: Childhood.

Bild entfernt.In ihrem literarischen Werk verbinden Sie lyrische Prosa mit dem wissenschaftlichen Diskurs der Psychoanalyse. Das ist eine interessante narrative Mischform. Welche Möglichkeiten sehen Sie in diesem Stil und was ist das Unbewußte dieser Gesellschaft, das Sie literarisch aufdecken wollen?

Kilomba: In my writings I like to combine different disciplines and different literary formats. I like to explore a topic from different perspectives using multiple languages, which can be both political/academic as well as poetic/metaphorical. I find that very challenging because it transgresses normative discourses, giving voice to realities that otherwise would remain invisible in a dominant format. I particularly used this literary format in the book ‚Plantation Memories’ as I wanted to explore everyday racism as a subjective experience. So, I wrote the entire book in form of short psychoanalytical stories with post-colonial theory as background. My academic background is psychoanalysis, which has a very metaphorical language: we work with the unconscious and the imaginary, which is per se very lyrical and symbolic playground. So, writing this book was a very challenging choreography between languages and disciplines.

Bild entfernt.Warum schreiben Sie „Schwarz“ groß?

Kilomba: Since the 80s that prominent Afro-German scholars write ‚Schwarz’ in capital words, in order to emphasize that in this context ‚Schwarz’ is not a color but rather a political identity. That is, we are not dealing with an adjective, but rather with a term, a political term.
This misunderstanding is visible in theatre, when for instance still today white actors paint their face black, in order to portray the Black Othello and its experiences as a Black man – a very disturbing image, which has its roots in the colonial time. The term ‚Schwarz’ deconstructs this idea that ‚race’ is an aesthetic thing or that Black people are discriminated against because we ‚look’ different. It is exactly the way around: people are discriminated against, not because they ‚look’ different, but rather because they are treated differently. We are therefore talking about politics and not about colors, that is why: ‚Schwarz’.

Bild entfernt.Gibt es AutorInnen, die Sie in besonderer Weise beeinflußt haben?

Kilomba: Frantz Fanon is one of the authors that has mostly inspired me as well as bell hooks, for their revolutionary literary formats. They have taught me how to write and how to combine these academic and lyrical styles. Maryse Condé and Alaa Al Aswany, who I have the chance to know personally, are two other authors who have inspired me immensely and who have supported my work, teaching me how to develop my lyrical and fictional writing skills. As well as Nuruddin Farah whose literary work a colleague and I recently adapted into a staged reading at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt.

Bild entfernt.In Ihrer Kurzgeschichte The Mask beschreiben Sie, wie der Rassismus über Jahrhunderte das „Schwarze Subjekt“ kolonialisiert und mit der „mask of speechlessness” zum Sprachverbot verurteilt hat. Sie beenden die Geschichte mit der Hoffnung, dass eines Tages den Kolonialisierten vielleicht zugehört wird. Gibt es in Deutschland keine Zuhörer für die Belange von Afro-Deutschen und afrikanischen MigrantInnen?

Kilomba: I would like to simply say: yes. But, I cannot. If for instance we use our last example with the term ‚Schwarz’, knowing that since more than 3 decades Black intellectuals, artists and activists claim the use of different terminologies and that these are constantly ignored, we can conclude that a large part of the white audience has not decided yet to listen to the Black subject’s voice, and therefore does not authorize us to be the speaking subjects.
When I turn the TV on, to watch the news, for example, I have to realize that most of the times the moderators do not know what to call a Black person, and instead of using self-determined political terms like ‚Schwarz’ or ‚Afro-deutsch’ they use colonial words like ‚Farbige’ or ‚Dunkle Hautfarbe’. This reveals a lack of dialogue between the speakers and the listeners, that is, we have been speaking (and writing) but the white audience not always have been listening (and reading), as they continue to use their own old colonial terms to define who we are nowadays.

Bild entfernt.In Ihrem Buch Plantation Memories benennen Sie Strategien, um der Traumatisierung durch die persönliche Erfahrung des Rassismus zu entgehen. Was verstehen Sie in diesem Zusammenhang unter Dekolonisierung?

Kilomba: Decolonization refers to the undoing of colonialism. Politically, the term describes the achievement of autonomy by those who have been colonized and therefore it involves the realization of both independence and self-determination. The idea of decolonization can be easily applied to the context of racism, because everyday racism lies exactly in this experience of becoming the Other. One feels as if one is being invaded, appropriated and alienated by dominant fantasies, which place one as subordinate or as exotically strange. Decolonization here means, undoing the process of alienation, of disappointment and misrepresentation.

Bild entfernt.Seit 2004 bieten Sie Workshops an und haben das Konzept „IN YOUR SOUL“ entwickelt, das Postkoloniale Theorie und Performance mit Elementen aus der Psychoanalyse und dem Bewegungstheater verbindet. Welche Ziele hat dieses Projekt?

Kilomba: As the title says: ‚IN YOUR SOUL’, explores gap between intellectual knowledge and emotional knowledge, that is, between ‘what I know’ and ‘what I do’. Often people are familiar with post-colonial studies, they know the books, the theories as well as the authors, they participate in intellectual discussions, but they are unable to transform, because what they know remains at a cognitive level. Transformation is only possible when intellectual knowledge is understood at an emotional level. Let me use the last example, intellectually people know that certain terminologies are discriminatory, but still they use them, because emotionally they have no access to that knowledge. So, even though intellectually they know it is problematic, they keep doing it, because the emotional knowledge is not there.
At the IN YOUR SOUL workshop I am concerned with exploring the bridges between intellectual, emotional and corporeal knowledge, using postcolonial theory, critical whiteness, psychoanalytical elements, as well as movement and performance. The participants are invited to work on both theory and drama/performance in order to develop new roles, positions and perspectives of themselves as postcolonial individuals.

Bild entfernt.Wie geht ihre literarische Reise weiter?

Kilomba: I just concluded re-writing the second edition of ‚Plantation Memories’, which came out in Mai 2010. And since some months, I am writing in a new book titled ‚Kalunga’. This is a fictional story about a woman who in the hope of understanding her destiny, unconsciously searches for advice in an elder Candomblé priestess. And in this way, she is introduced to the religion of the Orishas, a religion of African origin brought from West Africa by enslaved Africans to the other side of the Ocean, during Slave Trade. Two women from different African Diasporas meet nowadays for the first time, in a third place: Europe. They return to the beginning of a colonial journey. The slave ships return, now in opposite directions: from West to East, from South to North. The book explores the idea of past and present, fragmentation and continuity, loss and love.

Bild entfernt.Wie geht dieser Satz für Sie weiter: „Mein Deutschland ist ... 

Kilomba: ... not easy, but challenging enough to be interesting and sometimes even quite enchanting.

Das Interview führte Sibel Kara im Juni 2010.

Bild entfernt.
Grada Kilomba

Über die Autorin

„Plantation Memories. Episodes of Everyday Racism”
Leseprobe von Grada Kilomba (weiter)