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re|despair: Painful encounters in German museums – Livespeaker event

Co-laboration and repair, restitution and healing have become commonplace phrases in German museum discourse on how to deal with colonial collections and the colonial past. A student group set out to discover the state-of-the-art in German museums that continue to host so-called ethnographic collections.

Instead of repair and healing, we found opulence and voids, silence, shame, anger and grief. We found centuries of violent and exploitative colonial history. We found archival strategies and curatorial techniques that continue to actively forget this history. We found cultural wealth far away from its original places of being. We found rich, complex, and nuanced historical legacies reduced to impersonal “objects” in glass cases.

We found well-meaning attempts to grapple with those pasts, and attempts to justify past and present work in the museum. We did not find ways to share our joint experiences with each other. And so we grew more and more silent.

With these films we want to document the difficulties we encountered: of collaborative research across painful colonial histories and different memory cultures, and of de-centering ways of knowing in a politically charged and defensive climate.
What are the costs of making voices heard?

Members of the film team will be on hand to share and discuss the film installation.

The film project was realized collaboratively between students and doctoral candidates from the Institutes of Ethnology and Art History at the University of Cologne, the Institute of History at the University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, and the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Studies at the University of Bremen.


The event is sponsored by the University of Cologne, Institute of Ethnology


re|despair: Painful encounters in German museums – Livespeaker event


Jun 01 2023


18:00 - 20:00



Program area

European Conference on African Studies (ECAS)
  • Language: English/German