Out of the academic world and into everyday life. Making science accessible to everyone - this is how one could sum up the goal of PD Dr. Heike Raphael-Hernandez's Instagram account blackstudiesshared_uwue_hrh. With her posts, which she has been publishing since November 2021, she wants to draw attention to topics related to her field of research, Black Studies.
Starting with brochures for schools and podcasts on radio, the scholar from the University of Würzburg offers with her Instagram account another platform with accessible content that aims to educate, inspire, and encourage discussion. The idea for the Instagram account was born in the seminar room.
In addition to the research environment, new impulses, ideas, and questions continue to come from discussion with students. Here are some examples: Is it possible to teach the history of slavery without having a debate about racism, something the state of Florida turned into law? What does the demand "Defund the Police" in the widely discussed film Fruitvale Station (2013), which is based on true events, really mean? Who is behind the initiative “Grandmas Against the Right”? Entries like these are planned for the future and will hopefully make one curious to find out more.
The topics cover a wide range, from photographs and cartoons, to current events and recommended reading, to political news, such as police violence in Nanterre, France. Although the original focus was on American Studies, the published content now extends beyond America's borders.
It's not about follower numbers or likes that matter to Dr. Raphael-Hernandez. It is important to her that the focus is not on her as a scholar, but on the content itself. She, therefore, calls on people to be bolder, to draw attention to complex issues, and to engage in dialog in a respectful atmosphere.
PD Dr. Heike Raphael-Hernandez teaches and conducts research in American Studies at the University of Würzburg. One of her designated research areas is the historical and contemporary African diaspora. For the project "German Entanglement in the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Colonial History of Africa" she designed a research seminar on #BlackLivesMatter and human rights in a global context together with students from the University of Würzburg and the University of California at Merced; the students' discourse presented one of the early foundations for the Instagram idea.