Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - Department of African Studies

The work and influence of Janheinz Jahn

Prof. Dr. Flora Veit-Wild

Invalidenstraße 118, 10115 Berlin, 4. Etage, Room 402

Tel. +49 30 2093-6674



Anja Schwarz,
Room: 407

Tel. +49 30 2093-6677

e-mail :

Departure and change:
The work and influence of Janheinz Jahn (1918-1973)
as mediator of African literatures and cultures in Germany


The translator, writer, literature researcher, bibliographer and private librarian Janheinz Jahn is regarded as the first German-speaking mediator of African literatures and cultures.
Jahn's lasting influence on the perception of African literatures in particular in Germany between the Fifties and the Eighties should be examined within the two-year research project. Thereby the numerous reciprocal effects of his work with other network entities such as press, radio, TV, publishing houses and universities play a special role. Moreover the project will deal with Jahn's intellectual biography and the judgement of his person and his work in Europe, Africa and America, but particularly in his homeland Germany.
As important mediator of the literatures and cultures of Africa in the German-speaking countries he must be arranged in the context of the so far unexplored history of perception and mediation of African literatures in these countries as well as in the history of relevant cultural institutions. To that extent the project will make a contribution within a hardly investigated range.
Methodically the theory of perception as well as the biographical analysis will be used for analysing the material. Jahn's private estate, which the Humboldt University of Berlin has purchased in 2004 with the allowance of the Thyssen-Foundation, will be the primary source for the research. Interviews with time witnesses as well as relevant documents from libraries and from archives of broadcast, TV, press and institutes will serve as additional sources.

The project get financial support by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung.