Closing the Representation Gap

A Conversation with Karamba Diaby

Portrait of Diaby sitting on a staircase

Karamba Diaby; photo: Michael Bader

The first black man in the German Parliament — that’s often how Karamba Diaby is introduced. In his book Mit Karamba in den Bundestag: Mein Weg vom Senegal ins deutsche Parlament (With Karamba to the Bundestag: My Journey from Senegal to the German Parliament) Diaby provides fascinating insight into his life, a story of many toppled prejudices.

On June 1, 2017 he will introduce his book as part of our series “New German Stories” and discuss his journey from Senegal to East Germany, his experiences after German reunification, casual racism, and not least the goals and visions he holds as a Member of Parliament. Sithara Weeratunga and Serpil Polat asked Karamba Diaby three questions in anticipation of the event:  continue reading


A great example of what Germany’s achieved in recent years: release him!

Photo of buildings in Berlin’s Kreuzberg-Mitte district

View from the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin towards the Springer building with the lit-up sign, #FreeDeniz; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Stefanie Haupt

As I leave my office at the Jewish Museum Berlin, emerging from the W. Michael Blumenthal Academy onto the street, the hashtag “#FreeDeniz” beams towards me from an illuminated black-on-turquoise-green display on the Axel Springer building. The first time I saw it, I was cheered by the signal that the publishing house Axel Springer SE* was calling for the release of Die Welt’s correspondent in Turkey, Deniz Yücel. But each day seeing the display has gotten sadder. I’ve known Deniz Yücel since 2003, when — together with other German- and Turkish-speaking Berliners — he organized bilingual protests against the bomb attacks on the two Istanbul synagogues, Neve Shalom and Beth Israel, on November 15 of that year. Twenty-four people were killed in those attacks and at least 300 wounded.

Deniz and I haven’t had contact for quite awhile. But since mid-February, through the news of his imprisonment for “terrorist propaganda” and the car procession protests that followed it, as well as conversations with friends and of course the illuminated sign, memories from the period in 2003 and 2004 when we interacted almost weekly having been coming back.  continue reading


“If you define ‘crisis’ as a ‘turning point,’ then post-war Europe appears to have arrived at such a point.”

An Interview with Ines Pohl

Portrait of Ines Pohl

Ines Pohl; CC BY-NC 2.0 Deutsche Welle

The European Union currently faces a tensile test: Great Britain’s vote to exit, the rise of rightwing populist movements, the lack of a solution to the flow of refugees, fear of terror attacks, and economic decline. Reference is often made, in the political debate about how to respond to these issues going forward, to history.

At our event, “Times of Crisis” on 7 September 2016, we would hence like to discuss the significance of the past for current European politics, particularly considering today’s problems, together with international guests from Great Britain, France, and Poland, as well as Germany. The panel will consist of Dan Diner, Dietmar Herz, Étienne François, Hans Kundnani, and Adam Michnik. The moderator will be Ines Pohl, of whom we asked four questions that extend our view to include the USA.

Nevin Ekinci: Ms. Pohl, you have been in Washington since the end of 2015 as the correspondent for Deutsche Welle. How do you perceive the debates about the current European “crisis,” from a distance? Would you even use the term “times of crisis?”  continue reading