Edna Bonhomme

Historian of Science, Writer, Germany

Edna Bonhomme is a historian of science and writer living in Berlin, Germany. She earned her PhD in the History of Science from Princeton University and a Master of Public Health from Columbia University. Her practice investigates how people perceive modern plagues and how they try to escape from them.  As a researcher, she answers this question by using textual archives and oral histories to unpack the variant notions of sickness and health as well as the modalities of care that shape the possibility for repair. She has written for academic journals and popular press including Aljazeera, The Atlantic, The Baffler, The Guardian, The Nation, The New Republic, ISIS History of Science Journal, Journal for North African Studies, Public Books, and other publications. She is currently finishing her manuscript Tending to our Wounds, which explores the global history of restitution and reparations, and conducting research on her second book, Captive Contagions, which uncovers the role that captivity has played during epidemics.

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© Edna Bonhomme

In Our Words

“We know more about Black American history than our own.” These are the words that Black Germans tell me. Every generation, Black people living in Germany have a different way of articulating themselves. The meaning changes, even if African descended people in Germany may not have always identified as Black. Some are born in Germany, others are born elsewhere and raised in Germany, some are multi-heritage Black people, and some have parents or grandparents that migrated from Africa, South America, the Caribbean, or the United States. They have set up Afroshops, they exist as poets, they are bus drivers and artists. While much can be said about the colonial and political history of Black people in Germany, the healing practices are often absent from mainstream German consciousness. During the Camargo Fellowship, she will compose a creative non-fiction text that draws from year-long interviews with several Black people living in different parts of Germany, focusing on their emotional, medical, and social lives. The text is a dynamic portrait highlighting the interplay between how African diasporic health is represented and how African (diasporic) community groups fashion themselves in Germany.