On November 14, TraCe was a guest at the Crisis Talks series at the Hessian State Representation in Brussels discussing “Coming to Terms with Colonial Violence – Possibilities of Postcolonial Remembrance Politics”. Dr Sabine Mannitz gave the keynote speech and later also participated in the panel discussion.
Uwe Becker, State Secretary for European Affairs of the Hessian State Government, opened the event with a short video greeting. He set the mood for the discussion by emphasizing the importance of the multi-layered and complex issues of a post-colonial culture of remembrance, particularly at a European level.
In her keynote speech, Sabine Mannitz stressed the incompleteness of colonial history, the lingering effects of colonial conditions in global power constellations and forms of knowledge production. Instead of approaching colonialism nationally, she called for its reappraisal being understood as a joint European project. Some research and civil society actors are already networked across Europe, but a common European policy is not yet discernible. Yet Brussels in particular could provide important impetus to address the colonial interdependencies that continue to create structural imbalances today. Postcolonial perspectives, for example in school textbooks and museums, are suitable for conveying in context how Western modernity and its economic rise were based on colonial conquests. Making this visible could contribute to a culture of remembrance in which relations of violence and their conditions are less hushed up and better understood.
On the subsequent panel, moderated by journalist Alexander Göbel, Sabine Mannitz's academic input was supplemented by positions from Laura Gaëlle Ganza. As an independent consultant, she contributed perspectives from the cultural sector in particular: First and foremost, she pointed out that a clear stance on the European colonial era does not exist, not even in museums. Nonetheless, colonial heritage is deeply rooted in our lives and is often invisible. Therefore it must be uncovered to be able to dismantle it – for which a clear stance is necessary. In her contributions, Mannitz emphasized, among other things, the importance of cooperation at eye level when it comes to dealing with colonial violence. However, due to structural obstacles (such as restrictive visa regulations), this is often made more difficult with countries in the Global South.
The panel discussion was rounded off by numerous and stimulating questions from the audience, which underlined the relevance of the topic. The event brought together almost one hundred people from various (political) institutions in Brussels. It was also streamed live and can be watched in both German and English.
About the event series: In the "Crisis Talks" series, the Leibniz Research Network "Environmental Crisis - Crisis Environments (CrisEn)", co-ordinated by the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, together with the Research Alliance "Normative Orders" at Goethe University Frankfurt and the Hessian State Representation in Brussels, explores the question of how Europe should deal with its current and past crises in order to use them productively.