Memory Culture in the City
“Dekoloniale” is a programme comprised of various research projects, exhibitions and events on colonialism and post-colonialism of the present-day. These will be developed and presented by civic and cultural organisations in Berlin from 2020 to 2024. Based on the example of Berlin as the historic administrative and economic centre of Wilhelmine imperial politics, the programme will highlight the legacy of colonialism in urban space, the traces of which can still be found today in the 21st century.
The programme’s participants include the civic organisations Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland (ISD) e.V., Each One Teach One (EOTO) e.V., Berlin Postkolonial e.V. and the Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin. The civic organisation Berliner Entwicklungspolitischer Ratschlag (BER) e.V. will support the project as a partner.
The Federal Cultural Foundation focuses their funding on two sub-projects:
This interactive map depicts the transcontinental interconnections between memorial sites in Germany’s capital Berlin, other German cities and Germany’s former colonies. The web-based interactive world map includes the stories of:
- agents of colonialism as well as of colonised individuals and their descendants;
- institutions and organisations with colonial functions (e.g. authorities, companies, museums, corporations) as well as of anti-colonial and anti-racist events and undertakings;
- objects taken from colonial contexts, especially from German museums and university collections;
- memorial sites, e.g. monuments, commemorative plaques and street names which refer to either the glorification of colonialism or events and figures of resistance;
- city tours with local references, e.g. to “folkloristic spectacles” which were staged in Hamburg, Berlin and Stuttgart, or to the global slave trade which played a role in Berlin-Mitte or in Hamburg.
Much of the information and data has been collected and compiled in Internet forums following years of site-specific research by German and foreign civic organisations, for example, in Namibia and Cameroon, but also Hamburg, Augsburg, Freiburg, Erfurt, Munich and Bremen.
The project will create a world map which includes narratives and histories of German colonies outside of Africa as well, e.g. from Papua-New Guinea and China, and integrate the perspectives of historians from these respective regions.
Exhibition series for a Berlin topography of colonialism
Between 2021 and 2024 this project will present a series of exhibitions in various city districts that highlight Berlin’s colonial history and its long-lasting repercussions which remain visible to this day. The project’s institutional partners include district museums with their characteristic openness to locally anchored civic involvement. In the development and presentation of the exhibitions, the organisers plan to incorporate the experiences of the participating curators, researchers and artists with their own biographical references.
The following exhibition projects are currently planned:
Exhibition project 2021
2021: Exactly 125 years after the "First German Colonial Exhibition" in what is today the Berlin district of Treptow, the Museum Treptow will present a new and expanded version of the exhibition entitled “zurückgeschaut” (“looking back”, working title). The project represents a rare attempt by a district museum to establish collaboration between the curatorial team, civic figures and members of the diaspora. Together they will focus on the history of the folkloristic spectacles called “Völkerschauen” featuring the natives of the German colonies. The historic relevance of these events, which enjoyed popularity in other European countries as well, lies in the systematic collaboration, with which the entertainment industry, the political sphere, businesses, anthropologists and ethnological museums worked together to organise them. The project will cooperate with partner organisations in Namibia, Tanzania and Cameroon to learn more about individual biographies and shed light on the various forms of resistance expressed by some of those put on public display regarding the hardships and dangers in the context of the “Völkerschauen”.
Exhibition project 2022
2022: In cooperation with the FHXB Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Museum will present the exhibition “The Migration History of the Colonial Metropolis of Berlin, 1884 – 1918” which examines the real-life experiences of people from Africa, Oceania and Asia who lived in Berlin at the turn of the 20th century – an era in Berlin’s history that was shaped by global economic politics and burgeoning nationalism.
Exhibition project 2023
2023: The exhibition “Zooming In“ (working title) in cooperation with the Museum Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf will present Berlin’s art-historical holdings as the starting point for examining how black people (Schwarze Menschen) – as expressed in the name of the participating organisation – were depicted in court paintings between the 17th and 19th century. This exhibition focuses on these often-overlooked figures and reveals concrete details about their lives. At the same time, it builds a link to the history of black people in Germany after the loss of the colonies in the First World War, facing a growing societal racism.
Exhibition project 2024
2024: As part of the First German Colonial Exhibition of 1896, the organisers staged an urban presentation of German colonial rule in the “African Quarter”. The exhibition “Umkämpfte Räume” (Contested Spaces, working title) in Berlin-Mitte and Berlin-Wedding explores this staging in two ways: First, the project will refresh the public’s memory of the “founders” of the former German colonies, and second, highlight the diverse resistance movements of the colonised peoples, whose names will be remembered once again in Berlin’s public sphere thanks to this exhibition.
- Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland (ISD) e.V.
- Each One Teach One (EOTO) e. V.
- Berlin Postkolonial e. V.
- Berliner Entwicklungspolitische Ratschlag (BER) e. V.
- Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin
Members of the advisory board
- Prof. Dr. Iman Attia, ASH Berlin
- Dr. Manuela Bauche, Freie Universität Berlin
- Dr. Memory Biwa, University of Cape Town, South Africa
- Prof. Dr. Sebastian Conrad, Freie Universität Berlin
- Prof. Dr. Albert Gouaffo, Université de Dschang, Cameroon
- Sabine Herrmann, German Federal Archives, Koblenz
- Dr. Noa K. Ha, TU Dresden
- Belinda Kazeem-Kaminski, Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna
- Léontine Meijer-van Mensch, Saxon State Ethnological Collections
- Prof. Wayne Modest, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
- Dr. Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Universität Bayreuth
- Paulette Reed-Anderson, Center for African Diaspora Research in Germany, Berlin
- Sylvia Werther, Berliner Entwicklungspolitischer Ratschlag, BER
- Dr. Joachim Zeller, historian, Berlin
15 November, 2020 : Digital Opening: "Dekoloniale_Memory Culture in the City"
live at www.dekoloniale.de
Project Management Dekoloniale
www.dekoloniale.de (external link, opens in a new window)
Press and Public Relations Stadtmuseum Berlin
Tel.: 49 (0)30 24 002 215
Kulturstiftung des Bundes | German Federal Cultural Foundation
06110 Halle (Saale)
Tel.: 49 (0)345 2997 118
Email to Uta Schnell