Many years ago, when I was a PhD student, I gave a few lectures about decolonization. Although I did point out that there were profound lasting impacts of the colonial period on the world of today, I taught decolonization as something of the past: the nineteenth century as far as Latin America was concerned, mainly the mid-twentieth century as far as Africa and Asia were concerned. It is unthinkable that in 2021 a seminar on decolonization would not address the challenge to decolonize the present – and the future – as well. However, it would be equally one-sided to disconnect the current movement towards decolonization of society from historical antecedents and precedents.
In this research seminar, I want to provide an opportunity to reconcile a presentist activist understanding of decolonization with a historical vantage point that highlights decolonial activisms of past times. We will address conceptual, epistemological and methodological considerations, historical and contemporary examples from different disciplines and world regions (with emphasis on African and African-American cases), academic, artistic and, activistic perspectives, as well as reflections on how this affects our ongoing research and our position in society, as researcher, as intellectual and as citizen, each of us with their own backgrounds and positionalities.
The first three sessions are meant to provide common ground; the next four sessions are the playground of the participants, who introduce and discuss entry points into the decolonization debate; the final session is meant to reflect on the impact of the decolonization debate on our ongoing research projects. I give a preliminary reader and suggest possible figures, ideas, and formats, but welcome suggestions or objections from you (for practical reasons to be sorted out during the first session). Before every session (starting with session 2), all participants read a selection of the recommended reading and from session 4 onwards, they prepare brief inputs about key figures.
An additional requirement, for participants who want a graded attestation, is to submit a response paper two days before every session (starting with session 2) reflecting on the contribution of that week’s recommended reading to the decolonization debate as well as on yourself and your research in light of the themes addressed in the respective week.
· Session 1 (15.04.): getting to know each other, experiences with decolonization in research and/or life, expectations and suggestions, discussion of the seminar outline
· Session 2 (22.4.): conceptual and theoretical considerations – coloniality of power/knowledge/modernity/rationality/development/Africa/world (Quijano, Mignolo, Walsh, Stoler, Ndlovu-Gatsheni)
· Session 3 (29.04.): epistemological and methodological considerations – how is knowledge production determined by coloniality and (how) is decolonial knowledge attainable? (Mbembe, Spivak, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Trouillot, Chakrabarty, Fuglestad)
· Session 4 (06.05.): decolonization in Africa in the second half of the twentieth century – focus on movements, actors, and ideology, using both academic and activist texts (Cooper, Lonsdale – Nkrumah, Lumumba, Nyerere, Cabral, Biko, Sankara… *open for suggestions*)
· Session 5 (20.05.): *open for suggestions* anti-colonial critique and activism – Pan-Africanism, négritude, “race” and gender (Du Bois, Padmore, Césaire, Fanon, Memmi, Beal, Rodney, Morrison, Lorde)
· Sessions 6 (27.05., perhaps also 10.06.): *open for suggestions* rhetoric, literary and audio-visual expressions of decolonization (M.L. King, Barack Obama, Amanda Gorman – Tshibumba Kanda Matulu, Chinua Achebe, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o – “La battaglia di Algeri (The Battle of Algiers)”, “Cry Freedom”, “Malcolm X” – rap and hip-hop music)
· Session 7 (08.07.): *open for suggestions* German debates on decolonization and (multidirectional) memory, colonial traces in everyday life (“we object”), #RMF and #BLM (Mbembe, Rothberg, print media, Chigundu, Nyamnjoh)· Session 8 (15.07.): closing discussion – self-reflection and repercussions for ongoing research