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Germaicanness: Whiteness, Race and Class in Rural Jamaica

Venue: Online

This lecture will introduce our ethnographic research in the community of Seaford Town, Jamaica, which was founded in 1834 by the Jamaica Legislature as a settlement of German indentured labourers. The focus of our talk is the cultural history – and present – of this community. We will explore narratives of identity and belonging among descendants of these Nineteenth Century German immigrants: how do members of the community in the village of Seaford Town make sense of and articulate elements of their German cultural heritage, their ‘Germaicanness’? How are ideas about whiteness variously muted or amplified as markers of identity? We hope to show that in the specific context of this community, notions of Germanness are not consistently articulated as embodied cultural forms. In a setting marked by creolization, culture is not conceptualized as static or embodied, but instead constitutes something that can be claimed and shared. With a focus on the particular microcosm of the German diaspora in Seaford Town our lecture will address a specific and under researched element of the formation of culture and the conceptualization of race, power and identity in the Caribbean. 

Dr Sireita Mullings-Lawrence is a visual sociologist and artist who completed a BA in Art, Design and Education at the University of the West Indies (Mona) and Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts, where she majored in photography and graphic design in Jamaica.

She later returned to the UK to study an MSc in Multimedia at the University of Westminster. It was during this period she began working as a community arts practitioner locally and internationally. Sireita draws upon the arts as a tool that renders the subjective realities which characterise the often-misunderstood positions of young people.

She completed her PhD at the Centre for Urban and Community Research at Goldsmiths University of London. Here she carried out an ethnographic study, which interrogates how postcolonial legacies of marginalisation are rendered in the visual works of multi-ethnic young people living in Lambeth.

Theoretically her work draws upon postcolonial studies, race and representation and she uses participatory and visual research methods pivoted on themes of digital creativity, youth, class, gender, social enterprise, social exclusion, inclusion, belonging, migration, education, safety and danger.

Dr Thomas Zacharias completed his doctoral research in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths. He is currently a lecturer in Department for Educational Studies and the Department for Media, Communications and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths. Thomas’s research interests are ‘race’ and racism, the production of difference in political discourse, processes of creolization and diaspora identities.

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