In its first edition, PLANET CRIME, the CARNIVAL OF LITERATURES 2016 devotes itself to the literary genre of Crime Fiction, focusing on authors from the Global South.
Particularly in the last 20 years, criminal literature from the Global South and its diaspora has enjoyed an unprecedented boom. Crime Fiction has proven itself to be an emancipatory opportunity for illustrating and discussing realities within the context of policies of progressive neo-liberalism and continuing neo-colonial dependencies and power structures. However, these outlined realities are enacted, not least for potential readers with purchasing power, in the Global North. It is therefore necessary to critically observe stereotyped simplifications of relationships between political and social conditions and literary production in the global context.
The Berlin-based Werkstatt der Kulturen and the chairs of Literary and Cultural Studies at the Department of English and American Studies of the University of Potsdam are hosting an international Anglophone literature festival. The festival will take place in Berlin Neukölln as well as on the Campus “Am Neuen Palais” at the University of Potsdam. The topic of the Carnival of Literatures in the year 2016 will be Planet Crime. We intend to introduce the genre of postcolonial crime fiction to a wide range of people from Berlin and Brandenburg as well as to literary minded people from all over the world. We envision the festival as a forum for authors and artists from the Global South and local artists of colour. Moreover, the festival aims to make an emphatic statement for tolerance and cosmopolitanism. The festival will take place on 15th and 16th July 2016. Besides rather typical readings by authors and ensuing discussions about their work, we want to engage in a broader and more diverse understanding of literature and therefore involve spoken word performances, staged readings, medial enactments, and concerts as a big part of the program. Additionally, several workshops about writing will expand the participants’ knowledge on crime fiction; a “Fair of Cultures” will give various organisations and publishing houses which deal with the topic of postcolonialism the opportunity to present themselves to the general public.
The project aims at offering a better understanding of literature from the Global South and the postcolonial realm. Visitors will have the opportunity to engage with the problems but also with the potentialities of postcolonialism more intensively. Likewise, a cultural exchange between people from countries of the Global South and the Global North is supposed to take place. The festival is intended as a forum for the discussion of problems and similarities. In light of the current situation in Germany/Europe it is highly important to show how the colonial past is still influencing our world today. The festival is thereby also supposed to be a statement against xenophobia and racism.
With the festival we do not only want to reach people with academic interests or backgrounds but also the public at large. All students of the University of Potsdam, in particular those in study programs which deal with literature, will be invited to the festival but also everyone else who is interested in literature, from Berlin, Potsdam and the surrounding areas, should certainly feel invited and welcomed at the festival. The aim of the festival is therefore twofold, bringing fans of Anglophone (crime) literature from all over the world to Potsdam and Berlin and also piquing the local public’s interest for literatures from the Global South. Part of the program will also involve German-speaking authors and concentrate on local issues.
The first day of the festival will take place in the Werkstatt der Kulturen in Berlin-Neukölln, the second day on the Campus “Am Neuen Palais” at the University of Potsdam. All events will be reasonably distributed between both locations. On Saturday, additionally to the festival program, an outdoor “Fair of Cultures” will take place on the premises of the university campus, widening our scope of engagements as we hope to attract both one-day visitors of the Parks and Palaces in Potsdam as well as the citizens of Potsdam and their children. In cooperation with local book stores, NGOs which are active in inter-cultural educational work and university groups this will be an event which celebrates the diversity of literature next to lived diversity. At many stalls inter-cultural projects from and for the city of Potsdam and the state of Brandenburg will be presented, culinary highlights of various countries will be offered, books to browse or buy will be available and authors from various countries will have the opportunity to engage in direct contact with their potential readers and fellow authors. We have invited various initiatives, organisations as well as publishing houses to present their work at the fair.
Here Crime Fiction – for instance in the form of the hard-boiled novel with its very rigid generic rules – while easy to devour, can solve the burden of representation (the obligation to inevitably be understood as a political mouthpiece of one’s own diasporic minority in artistic expression) and create new ethnic identities.
In PLANET CRIME, the CARNIVAL OF LITERATURES 2016 presents a broad spectrum of global criminal literature, with readings on the topics of gender and feminism, sexually and racially motivated violence, constitutional conditions of historicities, power structures in knowledge production, colonialism, terrorism and Islamophobia, as well as on seeking refuge and asylum.