Johanna Heide

Doctoral Fellow


Campus am Neuen Palais
Am Neuen Palais 10
Building 1, Room 0.15
14469 Potsdam


consulting hours
by appointment only

Dissertation Project

Re-reading the American 'Archive of Slavery' Through a Gendered Lens

 My PhD-project ponders the question which kind of histories the 'archive of slavery' (Saidiya Hartman) enables and which it forecloses. Against the backdrop of current debates on archival theory and practice in Black studies, Gender studies as well as Postcolonial studies, I turn to 'minor' histories of self-emancipated and free black women in the 18th and 19th century U.S. I aim to explore their experience based on understudied visual as well as written materials originating in the popular, sentimental culture of the time and located in various U.S. archives, i.a. the Library Company of Philadelphia. Largely seen as an anomaly their 'minor' experience renders insights into the construction of race and gender in the antebellum period and beyond as well as into practices of Black female resistance. Hostile reactions towards Black women's freedom will be explored alongside expressions of companionship and love among free Black women themselves which they enacted in the face of a precarious legal status.


I studied American Studies and Cultural Studies at the University of Potsdam, Duke University and the English Foreign Languages University in Hyderabad. Since fall 2019 I am a PhD fellow with the DFG-funded Research Training Group "Minor Cosmopolitanisms" at the University of Potsdam. My dissertation project with the working title "Re-reading the American 'Archive of Slavery' Through a Gendered Lens" is a continuation of my longstanding interest in questions of the archive.

Research Interests

  • Black Studies
  • Postcolonial/Decolonial Studies
  • Gender Studies
  • Archival Studies

Publications and Conference Talks

“Archiv.“ Gender Glossar / Gender Glossary. (forthcoming)

 "Reclaiming Herstory: Female Fugitives from Slavery and the Printed Wor(l)d," Symposium African American Worldmaking in the Long Nineteenth Century, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, October 11 – 12, 2019.

 “Reading the Archive of Slavery: Free Black Women in Antebellum Philadelphia,“ BAA 10th International Summer Academy, Bavarian American Academy & Florida International University, Miami, June 2 – 10, 2018.


Scholarship for the Promotion of Young Researchers by the Kommission für Forschung und wissenschaftlichen Nachwuchs (FNK) of the University of Potsdam (2018).

 Scholarship by the Bayerische Amerika-Akademie to participate in the 10th BAA International Summer Academy at Florida International University, Miami (2018).

 Scholarship by the University of Potsdam and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to study at Duke University, Durham (2016).

 Scholarship by Fulbright to participate in the American Studies Summer School at Humboldt University, Berlin (2013).

 Scholarship by the University of Potsdam and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to study at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad (2012).