Conference Tour

Friday, March 20, 2015, 13.15-16.45

The Everyday Presence of the Colonial Past – A Guided Tour through the Colonial Metropolis of Berlin

Like London and Paris, Berlin is a colonial metropolis – but, unlike in these sister cities, this history is rarely officially acknowledged in the German capital. Yet the cityscape is evidently shaped by colonial history and its present day trajectories. Layers of history engraved in public space reveal important continuities from the colonial era to the National Socialist dictatorship and beyond. Up to the present day, the colonial propaganda from the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich remains etched into Berlin’s cityscape. And until this day people in Berlin, Germany and Europe benefit – mostly unconsciously, yet daily and self-evidently – from colonial continuities shaping everyday life from the morning coffee to the coltan in our smart phone.

Afrikanisches Viertel (African Quarter) and Schlossplatz, “Mohrenstraße,” Wilhelmstraße (where the colonial division of Africa was negotiated 130 years ago) and May-Ayim-Ufer: all of these very different sites across the city have one thing in common – they commemorate German policies and agents of enslavement and colonialism. This is where crimes against humanity were planned, committed or celebrated by honoring the aggressors. But these are also sites of resistance and contestation – both historically and in the present. In the 130th year of the Berlin Conference where the division of Africa was negotiated at the invitation of Chancellor Bismarck, the shared German-African and German-Asian colonial history comes into sharp relief. The tour offers a look at Berlin as a lens, enabling new perspectives on the everyday presence of the colonial past.

The tour will cover above-mentioned sites via tour bus, offering commentary and multimedia information for all and a walking tour through the "African quarter in Berlin's Wedding district. The tour includes a lunch break of about 1 hour at Saray Restaurant (Turkish and international cuisine).

About our tour guide:

Joshua Kwesi Aikins is a political scientist at Kassel University, a PhD candidate at the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology. He studied at Freie Universität Berlin and University of Ghana. His research interests include the interaction between western-style and indigenous political institutions in Ghana, post- and decolonial perspectives on 'development', cultural and political representation of the African Diaspora, coloniality and the politics of memory in Germany. As an academic and activist, he is involved in various projects in both Germany and Ghana: As a member of the Initiative of Black People in Germany, he is involved in policy analysis and lobbying, antiracist organising, diaspora empowerment and the ongoing struggle for a decolonial renaming of Berlin streets. In Ghana, his involvement spans conceptual and policy work, as associate researcher for the Ghana Constitution Review Commission and most recently the development and scientific lead for Ghana Vote Compass, Ghana's first Voter advice application for the December 2012 elections.