Cafe Americain

American Voices Abroad Berlin is old enough to have a daughter. It’s a political salon called Cafe Americain.

Cafe Americain is an experiment. We hope to create a political forum.

– which is more structured than a Stammtisch (with themed events, invited speakers, etc.),
– yet more open and informal than typical speaker events;
– which enables people to find others on their wavelength
– while engaging in civil discussion with those not on their wavelength;
– which promotes the exchange of ideas and information, bringing people together to sow the seeds of new political initiatives,
– yet is free from organizational pressures.

Our aim is to promote political discussion that gets beyond the rhetoric – be it the rhetoric of the Bush regime, of party politics, or of activism itself! All too often, the pressure to take sides on complex issues leads to dogmatic, divisive discussions which “create more heat than light” and, sadly, causes many concerned people to simply tune out.

We aim to examine US and international political issues in depth and from unexpected perspectives, as well as exploring the border zones between politics and other spheres such as art, science, literature or philosophy – as in our first event with artist Robbie Conal. We welcome suggestions for themes, events and other activities, but ultimately take personal responsibility for shaping the program. We are open to speakers representing all sorts of political views and approaches within the oppositional spectrum, provided that they are interested in substantive and critical discussion. We will not allow the salon to become dominated by any one agenda or initiative, partisan or otherwise, however laudable.

Ideally, Cafe Americain will be a place to challenge ourselves and others, combat the knee-jerk factor, learn from each other and enjoy each other’s company despite (or because of) our differences in opinion!

Ultimately, this salon will be no better or worse than its interpersonal dynamics. Thus, while we welcome strong opinions, the gamut of political positions from stodgy to radical, and healthy doses of (constructive) criticism, we will not tolerate disruptive, harassing or otherwise egregiously uncivil behavior and reserve the right to exclude offending individuals.  It goes without saying that we will not tolerate hate speech or statements inciting violence.

Why “Cafe Americain”? That’s the “gin joint” Humphrey Bogart runs in Casablanca – with all its associations of heroism, romance, exile, political intrigue, and idealism turned to cynicism turned to idealism!

What is Cafe Americain doing now? Check the events on our HOMEPAGE that refer to CIVICS 101: the US Constitution and see CIVICS 101 directly below. For more information about Cafe Americain, contact Isabel Cole at

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