Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Centre for British Studies | Research | Projects | Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing: British and German Perspectives

Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing: British and German Perspectives

Online Conference, 26th April 2021


The ‘Rethinking “Diversity” in Publishing’ report published in 2020, exposed the ways that authors from particular racial and ethnic backgrounds continue to be marginalised and disadvantaged in UK publishing industries. This is despite all the various initiatives that publishing houses have implemented in the name of ‘diversity’.


The report can be read in both German and English at:


In this conference, the authors of that report want to build dialogue between the UK and Germany publishing industries on how best to deal with racial/ethnic exclusions. It brings into conversation publishing professionals and activist from the UK and Germany who are working on these issues. The conference will be based around two panels, one that explores questions of diversity on the production side of the industry, the other one focussing on audiences. The aim is to explore the similarities and differences between the British and German contexts, and together formulate strategies that can tackle inequalities in the publishing sector.


In the first panel – Racial and social inequalities in the publishing industry – the invited speakers will engage with the question of diversity within the context of the publishing industries. It will consider where publishing houses have failed to engage people from underrepresented communities, the obstacles that authors of colour face in particular, and what spaces are needed to allow authors and publishing professionals from marginalised backgrounds to truly flourish in publishing.


In the last panel – Reaching wider audiences – speakers will explore how publishers have engaged - or failed to engage - marginalised audiences. It will consider how publishers value different types of audiences, explanations for why publishers and cultural intermediaries appear to be so disinclined to reach wider audiences, and what strategies/interventions are needed to bring certain communities from the margins into the core of publishing.


The event is jointly organised by
Dr Anamik Saha (Goldsmiths, University of London),
Prof Gesa Stedman (Centre for British Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) and
Dr Sandra van Lente (Centre for British Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)


Please find the programme (incl. breakout sessions) here: PDF

Participation is free and open to people working in the publishing and bookselling industry.
Please register by 20 April at
The link and code for joining us on zoom will be forwarded to all those who have registered for the event.

BSL interpretation will be available for the panels and research presentation. Please let us know for which of the breakout sessions you require BSL interpretation. BSL Interpreters: Ali Gordon and Akbar Sikder
Conference hashtag: #RethinkingDiversity

The project Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and supported by the writer development agency Spread the Word and the trade magazine The Bookseller.


The Speakers


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Maryam Aras, Bonn University, 54books

Maryam Aras is an academic and online critic. She is currently completing her PhD in Iranian/ Cultural Studies and writes literary criticism for the 54books magazine and West German Broadcasting (WDR).

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Ferda Ataman, Neue deutsche Medienmacher*innen

Ferda Ataman is a journalist, co-founder of the initiative Neue deutsche Medienmacher*innen and spokesperson of the neue deutsche organisationen, an association of more than 130 initiatives, organisations and projects that fight against racism and for a more inclusive society. She wrote is the author of the book Ich bin von hier. Hört auf zu fragen! (I’m from here. Stop asking! S. Fischer, 2019). and

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Saskia Bewley, Hachette UK

Saskia Bewley is Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Hachette UK, where she is advising on D&I strategy. Her role includes to progress the 'Changing the Story' agenda in respect to employees, authors, publishing content and the wider community.

Naomi Boima, Audream

Naomi Boima studies Politics and Fine Arts at Universität der Künste and Freie Universität Berlin. She is an artist, co-founder of the artist network Black Art Action Berlin and part of the leadership team at Audream. Audream is an antiracist mobile library in Berlin with a focus on Black feminist perspectives. The Audream library comprises about 500 media items. The Audream team consists of about 30 young people and young adults who identify as Black, Indigenous and/or Person of Colour and who meet regularly, organise events and plan future activities of the library.


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Shantel Edwards, Birmingham Literature Festival

Shantel Edwards is the Director of the Birmingham Literature Festival and Creative Producer at Writing West Midlands, the literature development agency for the West Midlands. She holds a doctorate in English Literature from the University of Birmingham.

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Aimée Felone, Knights Of and Round Table Books

Aimée Felone, Knights Of and Round Table BooksAimée Felone is managing director of Knights Of – a commercial children’s publisher whose main focus is publishing inclusively by commissioning writers and illustrators from a diverse range of backgrounds, as well as hiring diversely. At Knights Of she has opened Brixton’s only children’s bookshop, Round Table Books, which exclusively stocks titles from underrepresented authors and illustrators and

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Ruth Harrison, Spread the Word

Ruth Harrison is Director at Spread the Word and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She is responsible for leading Spread the Word artistically and strategically and working with her team to make a difference to and for writers and their audiences in London.

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Stefanie Hirsbrunner, InterKontinental

Karla Kutzner and Stefanie Hirsbrunner founded the literary agency InterKontinental, opened the InterKontinental bookshop and run the African Book Festival Berlin

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Crystal Mahey-Morgan, OWN IT!

Crystal Mahey-Morgan is a Publisher and Agent at OWN IT!, which she founded in 2015 and now co-owns and runs with Creative Director, Jason Morgan. OWN IT! is a storytelling lifestyle brand working across books, music, art and film.

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Mark Mukasa, Writer

Mark Mukasa is a writer from South London. He works in marketing and is the editor of I Am Hip-Hop Magazine. In 2019 he won a Spread the Word London Writers Award. Inspired by the stories of his Caribbean and African roots, Mark is currently working on his debut novel set between the Caribbean and UK. and @MNMukasa

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Denise Rawls, Writer

Denise Rawls won a Spread the Word London Writers Award in 2019. Her storytelling features the joy of sisterhood, motherhood, family, identity and of women who fall apart and back together. She survived a 28-year career in the civil service and now helps third sector organisations make more impact. and @Denise_Rawls

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Nikola Richter, mikrotext

Nikola Richter is the founder of the independent publishing house mikrotext in Berlin. She was awarded with a German Publishing Award in 2019 and 2020. In 2020 she introduced the pionieering idea of an "open publishing year" to the publishing world and invited guest publishers and their communities to create the programme.