Decolonial Dialogues

Towards a New Relational Ethic between Africa and Europe

To this day, colonialism – as a system of injustice and its consequences – continues to shape the relationship between Africa and Europe. Dealing with this colonial legacy is a multi-layered, often contradictory, and above all open process. Unfortunately, it is still in its infancy in terms of receiving a broad public and political reception in Germany. Against the background of a centuries-old entangled history between the two continents, systemic decolonisation can only succeed as a joint effort.

4-part online series 2022

The Decolonial Dialogues of the Heinrich Böll Foundation do not aim to provide ready-made answers, but to promote mutual learning through encounters. As an interactive “think lab”, the dialogues are intended to stimulate inclusivity while seeing and speaking beyond the common stereotypes and exclusionary standardisations. It is about motivations and experiences that are – and can remain – multi-voiced, open, and unfinished.

The exciting question is: How can transformative steps towards post-colonial realities in Europe and Africa as well as relations with each other flow forth from this process? The answer remains open!

I Release of Forces

March 1st 2022

The Heinrich Böll Foundation’s Decolonial Dialogues are dedicated to the question of how a new relational ethic between Europe and Africa can be made possible by coming to terms with this history of asymmetrical relations. How can the memories of colonial violence, enslavement, forced labour, dispossession, and destruction become the starting point for shaping a post-colonial future? What is to be done by the former colonial powers in terms of restitution and reparations to symbolically and materially compensate for historical injustices? What forces could the recognition of colonial history release to help foster joint contributions in dealing with global challenges?

The Decolonial Dialogues aim to create new spaces in order to reveal previously underexposed aspects of the public reception of decolonisation, facilitating conversations based on multiperspectivity and polycentrism. With our first event ”Release of forces" we jointly approach current challenges of decolonial transformation and introduce the three thematic areas that will follow in the dialogue series.

Dr. Philmon Ghirmai, State Chair Alliance 90 / The Greens Berlin

Dr. Toni Haastrup, Senior Lecturer International Politics, University of Stirling, Scotland

Dr. Mahret Ifeoma Kupka, art scholar / curator, Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt a. M.

Deacon Adelino Massuvira João, social educator, speaker of the continuation committee "Respect and Recognition", Suhl

Moderation: Aisha Camara

Recording of event / Tuesday, 01. March 2022

Decolonial Dialogues I: Release of Forces - Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

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II Europe’s colonial “backpack”

April 6th 2022 5-7pm

As an overarching historical context, colonialism emerged as a European project despite different national manifestations. The conquest of other continents was an essential element of European prosperity and identity. The realignment of the world after the Second World War was by no means a turning point: Part of the European unification process itself was a “late colonial project”, based on old (western) patterns of thinking with regard to European-African relations. Here, the Treaty of Rome (1957) – in which the colonies were included in the European Economic Community, while being exempted from customs duties – is only one example.

How can the overcoming of (neo)colonial external relations and the internal formation of Europe be initiated through cooperation on the continent? What ideas do African societies have for a new relational ethic with Europe and its institutional shaping in political, economic, and legal terms?

Moderation: Aisha Camara

Dr. Yvette Abrahams, senior scholar at the “San and Khoi Unit”, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Dr. Selly Ba, sociologist, programme officer hbs, Dakar

Prof. Dr. Peo Hansen, author of "Eurafrica", Linköping Universität, Sweden

Prof. Dr. Facil Tesfaye, assistant professor & Director African Studies Programme, University of Hong Kong

Moderation: Aisha Camara

Recording of event / Wednesday, 06. April 2022

Europe's colonial "backpack" - Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

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III Narratives of the objects

May 10th 2022 5-7pm

An important focal point for dealing with colonial heritage are the countless objects from colonial contexts being held and displayed in European museums. The long-standing demands for restitution from the countries of origin have been mostly ignored, or even actively resisted in Europe. But the pressure is increasing and the first returns have been recorded. Many museums in Europe are now taking a self-critical look at their colonial “core” and searching for a post-colonial identity.

The emerging conversations about colonial collections and museum practices are creating a deeper understanding of the consequences of colonial violence on the societies of origin, for example the erasure of their cultural, spiritual, and religious identities. In Europe, the colonial dimension of exhibition practices by museums is revealed through an out-of-context, reductionist presentation that symbolically enacts the subjugation of “the others”. How can a different relational ethic emerge from the object-related dialogues, one that understands the unconditional, permanent transfer of property rights to the societies of origin not as the end, but as the beginning of a new culture of cooperation?

Moderation: Aisha Camara

Stefanie Bach, curator for Global Art History, GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde, Leipzig / Germany

Dr. Mahret Ifeoma Kupka, art scholar / curator, Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt a. M. / Germany

Chao Tayiana, historian and digital heritage specialist, founder “Open Restitution Africa”, Nairobi / Kenya

Ibrahima Thiam, photographic artist, Dakar / Senegal

Moderation: Aisha Camara

Recording of event / 10. Mai 2022

Narratives of the objects - Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

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IV (De)Colonial memory in the GDR

June 21st, 5-7pm

A particular feature of colonial memory in Germany are the separate paths taken by Eastern and Western Germany between 1945 and 1989. The German Democratic Republic’s (GDR) different approach is evident, for example, in academic research on the colonial past and in solidarity work on anti-colonial struggles in the Global South. With regard to former contract workers from Africa in the GDR, for example from Mozambique, issues concerning unresolved compensation are still on the German agenda. The living conditions of Black people in the former GDR and in the post-reunification period have also not received sufficient attention in public and political debates.

How can these stories and specific experiences in the GDR be given equal importance in German remembrance work when dealing with colonial heritage and decolonisation?

Moderation: Aisha Camara

Naita Hishoono, Executive Director, Namibia Institute for Democracy, Windhoek

Peggy Piesche, Head of Department "Civic Education and Plural Democracy”, Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb), Bonn

Katharina Warda, author / sociologist /  literary scholar

Moderation: Aisha Camara

Recording of event / Wednesday, 21. Juni 2022

(De)Colonial Memory in the GDR - Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

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