Press Portal

A new look at life in the diaspora

Elahe Haschemi Yekani receives European Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council
Elahe Haschemi Yekani

Prof. Dr. Elahe Haschemi Yekani
Photo: Jennifer Sanchez

Prof. Dr. Elahe Haschemi Yekani is receiving a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) for her project "Tales of the Diasporic Ordinary. Aesthetics, Affects, Archives”, which deals with everyday tales of the diaspora. The Professor of English and American Literature and Culture is Executive Director of the Department of English and American Studies at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, where she researches and teaches with a focus on postcolonial studies.

Prof. Christoph Schneider, Vice President for Research at the HU: “I am delighted for Professor Haschemi Yekani, whose outstanding research work is now being confirmed, and will be further strengthened, by this funding. The analysis of art and literature can change the way we look at how people perceive themselves in diverse and heterogeneous societies. This honour is also proof of, as well as a further incentive for, committed research and teaching at the Department of English and American Studies at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin."

Tales of the Diaspora

As part of this project, Hashemi Yekani investigates stories produced by people living in the diaspora. Works by non-white artists who have migrated are associated predominantly with labels that single them out from society. This understanding favours generational models such as the Windrush generation (migrants from the Caribbean between 1948 and the early 1970s) in Great Britain and so-called guest worker literature in Germany, but also ethnic and area studies in the USA. Such terms reinforce an understanding of migration as the result of exceptional circumstances, such as the so-called refugee crisis of 2015.

The project “Tales of the Diasporic Ordinary” asks what happens if, instead, we apply a “normalising” perspective to contemporary literature and art in the diaspora. The project thus breaks through models of national canon formation and considers (queer) diasporic artistic practices and aesthetics as interwoven with global history after the Second World War, the decline of the empire, neo-imperialism, and the recent rise of the New Right.

One of the project’s hypotheses is that artistic practice can acknowledge negative effects and contribute to a new notion of community that goes beyond national and heteronormative constraints. The project thus underlines the importance of everyday tales of the diaspora for dealing with racism and promoting new forms of belonging.

About the ERC Consolidator Grants

The prestigious grant is endowed with up to two million euros and is awarded by the European Research Council to top researchers in Europe who are pursuing potentially ground-breaking projects in basic research.

About the recipient

Elahe Haschemi Yekani has been Professor of English and American Literature and Culture, with a focus on Postcolonial Studies, at the Department of English and American Studies at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin since 2017. Previously, she was Junior Professor of English Literature at the Europa-Universität Flensburg. After finishing her doctorate at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, she completed periods of research and held research positions at New York University (USA), the University of Potsdam, the University of Innsbruck (Austria), and the Institute for Advanced Study Konstanz.

Her work focuses on the anglophone novel from its beginnings to the present day, with a special emphasis on Black Atlantic and diasporic writing, postcolonial studies, visual culture, memorial culture and the archival turn, queer theory, and intersectionality. In addition to numerous articles and the two monographs Familial Feeling: Entangled Tonalities in Early Black Atlantic Writing and the Rise of the British Novel (Palgrave Macmillan 2021, open access) and The Privilege of Crisis. Narratives of Masculinities in Colonial and Postcolonial Literature, Photography and Film (Campus 2011, awarded the 2009 Britcult Award), she has recently published a third book, written jointly with Magdalena Nowicka and Tiara Roxanne, on Revisualising Intersectionality (Palgrave Macmillan 2022, open access). This marks the conclusion of the research project of the same name, which was led jointly with Prof. Nowicka (German Centre for Integration and Migration Research, DeZIM) and funded by the Volkswagen Foundation.

In addition, together with Prof. Dr Silvy Chakkalakal (Humboldt-Universität, European Ethnology), she is currently leading a project funded by a Princeton–HU Strategic Partnership Grant on "Re-Imagining the Archive: Sexual Politics and Postcolonial Entanglements".


Prof. Dr. Elahe Haschemi Yekani
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Department of English and American Studies

Phone: +49 30 2093 70945 (Sekretariat: 2093 70930)

Further Information

Read the press release of the European Research Council