Dr. Sunčica Klaas


Campus Neues Palais 10
Building 19, room 1.31
14469 Potsdam


Office hours are held digitally. Please contact me via email to make an appointment and to find the best way to communicate.


I studied American, English and German Studies at the University of Padua, Italy, where I graduated in 2002. From 2005 to 2014, I worked as a research assistant at the American Studies Program at the Humboldt University, Berlin, teaching a variety of courses on American literature and culture. In this period, I began my dissertation on human rights and the contemporary American autobiography, which I will be submitting in 2016. I joined the team of the English and American Studies at the University of Potsdam in 2015. 

Research Project: Minor Migrations

Developed in collaboration with Prof. Kerry Bystrom (Bard College Berlin) and Dr. Carly McLaughlin (Potsdam University), the project Minor Migrations maps the increased visibility of displaced children in the Anglosphere and explores how the figure of the migrant child embodies political meanings and agendas. In our critique of such universalizing tendencies, we insist on the knowability of the “specific histories and specific cultural or political contexts” (Malkki 1996) of child migration. Also, we call for a turn to the voices, knowledge, agency and aspirations of children who cross borders for survival. Such angle, we believe, enables explorations of broader and sometimes unexpected intersectional modes of youth activism; as well as centering the majority of children who tend to fall out of the frame altogether. Seeking to develop a truly “child-centered approach” to migration called for by Jacqueline Bhabha (2014) and others, this project takes a multidisciplinary and transnational standpoint to the politics of childhood, history/memory, and migrancy. We hope to “shift the frame” of contemporary discussions about displaced children by analyzing and critiquing the way they are configured as subjects of humanitarian, legal and politico-cultural discourses. 

 For further information on Minor Migrations see https://criticalhabitations.wordpress.com

Postdoctoral Project: Free White Hands

If one segment of the American electorate dominated the newsfeed during the last U.S. election it was that of the working-class. Displaced by the forces of globalization and deindustrialization, working-class Americans have been portrayed by pundits as unemployed, underpaid, and, most importantly, angry at the “globalist establishment” for neglecting the “average,” blue-collar worker in favor of “identity politics.” Yet, although many blue-collar jobs have been destroyed or outsourced, working-class itself, writes Alessandro Portelli, has not vanished. Indeed, displacements produced by the post-industrial capitalism have only deepened the existing rifts within the U.S. American society, calling for a renewed engagement with the issue of class.

It is precisely this racialized history of the working-class pushbacks against the hegemonic global narratives that is at the center of my postdoctoral project Free White Hands: Slavery and Race in the Working-Class Literature of the United States. Calling for an intersectional approach to class and race, the project firstly aims to produce a critical genealogy of the “white,” working-class consciousness by exploring how this segment of the population and of the labor force came to represent itself as radically different from African-American slaves and laborers throughout the eighteenth and the nineteenth century. Secondly, the project investigates how “white” workers were translating in racial terms their own anxieties of social dislocation as well as their struggles for economic competitiveness and rights. These semiotic and ideological practices, I argue, circulate as assets within the American labor market, contributing to the formation of what W.E.B. du Bois describes as America’s “racial capitalism.” And, thirdly, the project explores the ways in which “white” workers were both engaging and decentering the dominant models and forces of “worlding” (Spivak), focusing specifically on alternative visions of internationalism and cosmopolitanism produced by the working-classes.

Dissertation Project

Dissertation project

Research Interests

Mobility Studies, Gender Studies, African American Studies, Cultural Theory, Visual Culture, Law & Literature, Life Writing 


Recent Publications

Writing Wrongs: Human Rights and the Contemporary American Autobiography. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2018.

“‘We Will Give Him a Family’: Economies of Race and Rescue in the Autobiographies of Young African Refugees.” Literatur in Wissenschaft und Unterricht. Sondenderheft “Refugees and/in Litearture,” vol. xvix, no. 2/3, 2016, pp. 193-206.

 with Carly McLaughlin. “Teaching Minor Migrations: Narratives of Refugee and Asylum-Seeking Children for the Classroom.” Der Fremdsprachliche Unterricht Englisch. Sonderheft “Seeking refuge – Globales Lernen zum Thema Flucht, Vertreibung, Migration,no. 159, 2019, pp. 48-49.

Articles in academic journals and edited collections

“Pain for a Daughter: Mothers and Daughters in the Work of Anne und Linda Sexton.“ Di Madre in Figlia. Storie di Donne tra Biografia e Letteratura. Ed. Anna Scacchi. Roma: Luca Sossella editore, 2005. Print.

“Those Tigers of Memory: Life-Writing in Exile.“ Cultural Memory and Multiple Identities: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Identity Politics in the 20th Century. Transatlantic American Studies. Vol. 2. Ed. Rüdiger Kunow and Wilfried Raussert. London, Berlin, Hamburg, Muenster: LIT Verlag. 2005. Print.

“On Pens and Swords: Life-Writing as Socio -Political Engagement.” ZENAF Conference Proceedings. Frankfurt am Main: Zentrum für Nordamerika Forschung, Goethe-Universität, 2005. Print.

“Traveling Theorists: Edward Said and the Challenge of Intellectual Engagement within Humanism.“ Approaching SeaChanges: Metamorphoses and Migrations across the Atlantic. Ed. Annalisa Oboe. Padova: Unipress, 2005. 89 – 110. Print.