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WE WERE DANCING IN THE CLUB, NOT ON THE BERLIN WALL: Black Bodies, Street Bureaucrats, and Exclusionary Incorporation into the New Europe



In this essay, I explore the micropolitics of citizenship and sovereignty via the emerging street bureaucratic status of “white” German women in relationships with “black” men in Germany and Berlin. In the midst of the fallen Berlin Wall and increasing Europe-wide restrictions on immigration and asylum, it examines further the extent to which a consistent “black” male hypersexual performance is necessary for legal recognition via “white” German women who, taking on an informal bureaucratic status, ultimately decide which “black” subjects to marry. A history of desiring “black” bodies, the essay argues, coincides with several important moments of sexual liberation (incl. post–World War II African American military occupation, 1970s West German feminism, and the fall of the Berlin Wall), which make these relationships both possible and public; however, the hypersexualized conditions under which “black” subjects get incorporated into contemporary German life are also ultimately exclusionary.

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