Which future is feasible

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Bild: Mara Lavitt

Three questions for Prof. Dr. Fatima El-Tayeb

Fatima El-Tayeb’s research focuses on ethnicity, race and migration. Due to her expertise in our key research priority of cultural values, the University awarded her the honor of FAU Ambassador in 2023.

Ms. El-Tayeb, what does your research involve?

My work revolves around European identity narratives, particularly those that construct the continent as “historically white” and free of racism at the same time. At the moment, my focus lies on a new interpretation of European history since 1989 and its lack of consideration of colonialism. A central aspect for me are not only dominant narratives, but also the resistance strategies of racialized communities, especially those that mobilize intersectional and queer art practice.

Why are you interested in this topic?

As a German person of color, it was impossible for me to ignore the essentialist definition of being German and European as it repeatedly positioned me as an impossibility – I was naturally interested in why this was the case and how this exclusion could be changed. For me as a historian, history is alive and has a dynamic connection with the present and the future: How we remember ourselves as individuals and as a collective depends on how we see ourselves today and on which tomorrow we are striving for. Memory discourses allow us to read the past and use it today, they define what history is now and what it will remain in the future, they define the present and they define which future is feasible.

What do you want to achieve as an FAU Ambassador?

The Eurocentric grand narrative that fetishes “progress”, is localized in Europe and is equated with expansion, has led humanity to the edge of an abyss. We urgently need new pluralistic narratives that represent the perspectives and memories of all ethnic groups. I want to make a significant contribution to this both as a researcher and FAU Ambassador.


Fatima El Tayeb
Image: Mara Lavitt

Prof. Dr. Fatima El-Tayeb studied American Studies and Modern European History at Hamburg University, where she also completed her doctoral degree in history. She subsequently taught as a visiting lecturer at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA. From 2004 onwards, she taught and researched at the University of California in San Diego, USA. She was appointed as a researcher at Yale University, New Haven (Connecticut), USA, in 2021, where she is currently professor of Ethnicity, Race & Migration and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She was awarded the honor of FAU Ambassador in 2023.

This article is part of the FAU Magazin

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A university thrives because of the people who research, study, teach and work there. A university is supported by people who are connected to it as alumni, friends and sponsors and who are committed to promoting its interests all over the world.

They all contribute their unique talents, skills and perspectives. It is this diversity that makes our FAU a place of innovation, a place where many talented individuals tackle the major challenges of our times together, and a place where they keep finding answers.

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