Speaker: H. Glenn Penny, Professor, Department of History, University of Iowa

Date: Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Time: 4 PM 
Place: SUB Ballroom B

Title: German/European Masculinity and the American West: Performing Indigeneity

Sponsoring departmentModern Languages & Literatures

Summary: Dr. Penny will discuss the history of "passing" and the signifiers of the American West as used in Europe. More specifically, he will focus on a mixed race American soldier who became the darling of the hobbyist movement in postwar Germany. It explores the different valences of phenotype in Germany and the United States following World War II as well as the salience of ideas about American Indians and masculinity across the last two centuries.

About the speaker: H. Glenn Penny's work explores the relationships between Europeans and non-Europeans from the eighteenth century to the present, with a focus on Germans' broad engagement with the wider world. His first book, Objects of Culture: Ethnology and Ethnographic Museums in Imperial Germany (2003), was a major intervention in the history of anthropology. In his second book, Kindred by Choice: Germans and American Indians Since 1800 (2013), he explores the striking sense of affinity for American Indians that has permeated German culture for two centuries. It shows how those affinities stem from German polycentrism, notions of tribalism, a devotion to resistance, a longing for freedom, and a melancholy sense of shared fate. He is currently pursuing a set of projects on German Diasporic Communities in North and South America, including a focused study of German interconnections with Guatemala, and an analysis of the networked German spaces produced and preserved by German schools in Latin America from the 1880s through the twentieth century. These projects aim to bring European and Latin American historiographies into dialog, re-spatialize our understanding of German history, and destabilize the prominent role of states in historical narratives.