In the 1980s, a young adventurer and collector for a government library, Abdel Kader Haidara, journeyed across the Sahara Desert and along the Niger River, tracking down and salvaging tens of thousands of ancient Islamic and secular manuscripts that had fallen into obscurity. The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, by Berlin-based veteran foreign correspondent Joshua Hammer, tells the incredible story of how a mild-mannered archivist and historian from the legendary city of Timbuktu became one of the world’s greatest and most brazen smugglers.
Moderated by R. Jay Magill, Author; and Editor, Berlin Journal, American Academy in Berlin.
Location: English Theatre Berlin, Fidicinstrasse 40, 10965 Berlin
In cooperation with the U.S. Embassy Berlin and the English Theatre Berlin, International Performing Arts Center.
The American Academy in Berlin will welcome it fall 2016 class of fellows with the traditional fellows presentation on September 15, 2016, at the Hans Arnhold Center.
The fellows, chosen by an independent selection committee, will explore an array of projects and topics—some, but by no means all, directly related to Germany. Projects include the first book-length comparative study of environmentalism in Cold War Germany; the rebuilding of Kreuzberg after the Fall of the Wall; a screenplay inspired by an American intelligence project that recruited German scientists and brought them to the US at the end of World War II; and the use of public-art interventions to raise politically inflected questions.
The highly coveted Berlin Prize is awarded annually to scholars, writers, composers, and artists from America who represent the highest standards of excellence in their fields. Fellows receive a monthly stipend, partial board, and accommodations at the Academy’s lakeside Hans Arnhold Center in Berlin-Wannsee. The Berlin Prize provides recipients with the time and resources to step back from their daily obligations to work on academic and artistic projects they might not otherwise pursue. The fellows are encouraged to work with local individuals and institutions in the Academy’s well-established network, forging rich connections and lasting transatlantic relationships. During their stay, fellows engage audiences through public lectures, concerts, performances, and readings, which take place at the Academy but also throughout Berlin and Germany.
The Fall 2016 Class of Berlin Prize Fellows
Associate Professor of Architecture, Cornell University
Akcan will explore the concept of open architecture in the context of housing regulations for noncitizens, with a focus on the 1984/1987 Internationale Bauausstellung (IBA) that took place in Berlin-Kreuzberg. At a time when Germany is taking in record numbers of migrants, her project offers perspectives on how existing populations and policies, the supply of housing, and noncitizens have interacted in the urban sphere.
Professor of History, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
As director of the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen from 2013 15, Boehling focused on the victims of Nazi persecution. In Berlin, she will make a comparative assessment of how the United States, Great Britain, and France approached the process of undoing Nazi influences in post-World War II German society, examining the divergent theories behind denazification and how they were implemented.
Professor of History, Northeastern University
In his project “The Greening of Cold War Germany,” Brown seeks to understand the commonalities and differences in environmentalism and related social movements in the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic from 1968-1989.
Jennifer R. Davis
Assistant Professor of History, The Catholic University of America
Davis will focus on the law and its uses in Frankish kingdoms, specifically how and why different communities chose to adapt royal law for their own purposes.
Mary Ann Doane
Class of 1937 Professor of Film and Media, University of California, Berkeley
Doane will be completing a book on the use of the close-up in film practice and theory, and the ways in which screen size and its corresponding scale have figured in the negotiation of the human body’s relation to space in modernity.
Writer; Associate Professor of English, University of Mississippi
Franklin’s books strive to blend what the author loves about “high” literature with what he loved reading as a young person: the horror novels of Stephen King or the fantasy novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs. At the Academy, he will work on a novel set in rural Alabama.
Chair and Associate Professor of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures, Rutgers University
Häberl will continue his research of the Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran, one of the Middle East’s smallest and most ancient religious communities. Focusing on Mandaean folklore about persecution and migration, he will speak with members of this community who have sought refuge in Western countries, including Germany.
Daniel Joseph Martinez
Artist; Donald Bren Professor of Art, Claire Trevor School of the Arts, University of California, Irvine
Martinez uses photography, painting, site-specific installation, printed works, performance, and public interventions to raise politically inflected questions. In Berlin, he will focus on an interrogation of war and architecture, contemplating the disappearance of Western civilization in an age of intelligent machines.
Assistant Professor of History, Fordham University
Novikoff will examine the penetration of scholastic learning into arenas of public life that flourished far beyond the supposedly cloistered environment of the medieval university. His work shows how this intellectual and cultural exchange contributed to the formation of a pre-modern public sphere.
Filmmaker; Barksdale Jr. Assistant Professor of Film and Media Culture, Middlebury College
Uricaru will be working on a screenplay and film project inspired by the American intelligence project Operation Paperclip, which recruited German scientists and brought them to the US at the end of World War II.
Class of 1963 Professor of Geography and Development Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Watts will explore the effects of oil capitalism and uneven state capacities in Nigeria. His work serves as a case study for grasping the relations between political violence and forms of authority, issues of pressing global importance often little understood outside specialist circles.
Artwork by Alex Katz, detail from "Berlin," 2003