Legacies of Colonialism in the Modern World series

Legacies of Colonialism in the Modern World series
9 July 2020, 5.00pm - 7.00pm

Dr Henning Melber: ‘In the Shadow of Genocide: German-African relations between colonial amnesia and decolonisation’

While German formal colonialism ended with World War I after three decades, it left a lasting mark. Far too long this specific history remained unacknowledged or romanticised. Since 2015 German-Namibian negotiations seek to come to terms with the genocide imperial Germany committed in South West Africa (today Namibia). This brought into the public domain a history of extermination that started long before the Holocaust. The growing awareness contrasts with renewed denialism and colonial-apologetic campaigns by the populist right. While post-colonial initiatives have gained ground, including the debate over restitution of stolen cultural artefacts, dismissive counter tendencies are on the rise too and feed into what could be dubbed colonial amnesia as a still wide spread feature. This presentation offers a critical analysis of a long-ignored aspect of German reality.

Henning Melber is a Senior Research Fellow with the Institute of Commonwealth Studies/School of Advanced Study, an Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria and the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein and a Senior Research Associate at the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala. Born in West Germany, he came as a son of immigrants to Namibia, joined the anti-colonial movement SWAPO there in 1974 and has engaged as scholar activist in related subject matters since then. His publications include (as co-author, with Reinhart Kössler) Völkermord – und was dann? Die Politik deutsch-namibischer Vergangenheitsbearbeitung (Frankfurt/Main 2017) and (as editor and contributor) Deutschland und Afrika – Anatomie eines komplexen Verhältnisses (Frankfurt/Main 2019).

Please note that advance registration is essential. You will receive the zoom link the evening before the event.


Olga Jimenez
020 7862 8871