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Johanna Kreft

History, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

Beyond "colonial amnesia" - Decolonising German institutional memory through transformative social activism

In its current form, Germany’s mainstream memory landscape maintains a widespread neglect towards Germany’s colonial past, as most memory and educational institutions still avoid a genuine engagement with this historical period and its legacies. This promotes a gravely ahistoric version of Germany’s past and contributes to the marginalisation of local communities descending from formerly colonised societies. Throughout the last decades, scholars and activists have been scrutinising mainstream society, propelling critical postcolonial approaches, and demanding a re-engagement with Germany’s colonial period. This PhD research seeks to investigate more closely this development of a postcolonial memory culture that has been emerging over the past 40 years. The project focuses on how different spheres within German society – mainstream society, political and cultural institutions, academics, activists and minoritised communities – engage with the memory of the German colonial experience. One of the particular interests is to learn about how civil society initiatives participate in shaping this discourse and to explore their transformative potential to encourage a ‘decolonisation’ of mainstream German memory culture.

Research Area

  • History


  • Memory Studies Association (since 2021)
  • Association of German Studies in Great Britain and Ireland (since 2021)

Employment History