Decolonize Society – Fight Racism
In 2011, a group of students organised themselves within the association Engagierte Wissenschaft e.V. in Leipzig to make insights of postcolonial academic debates and activist criticism accessible and to translate them into educational work. Since then we are a voluntary, self-organized group and part of the nationwide Decolonize network since 2018. Through our activist work we try to strengthen postcolonial perspectives on different levels of urban life. As best we can, we also try to refer to other activist groups and establish a network with scientific or political institutions.
What does postcolonial mean to us?
By the term postcolonial we do not only refer to the period after the historical epoch of colonialism. Rather, certain political and economic relations of inequality and patterns of thought associated with colonialism persist. We want to question the Eurocentric and racist perspectives of these thought patterns and privileges and their actual material effects on people and nature.
In our work we are concerned with the history of German colonialism and its aftermath in society, in urban space and in institutions such as public museums. We also want to address the ongoing unjust distribution of wealth, resources and political influence due to colonial continuities. For this purpose we use the concept of coloniality, which allows us to analyse contemporary power relations that emerged in colonialism in the context of the capitalist economic system, for which the social classification of people around the construct of race was used.
Why do we exist?
Until a few years ago, the aftermath of European colonialism in Germany was largely uncommented and unresolved (there was a so-called “colonial amnesia”). Under the pressure of civil society initiatives, especially migrant and diasporic initiatives such as the Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland, and in view of the reclaiming of bones and cultural assets from the former colonies, there is a growing social and political awareness of the urgency of coming to terms with colonial history.
Post-colonial or decolonial groups have formed in many German cities in order to provide information about colonial history on a local level and to make clear the many entanglements of former colonies and colonial powers. At the federal level, these groups are networked and demand the decolonization of the culture of remembrance, for example by making visible the history of black people in Germany and their resistance to racism.
German and European colonial history also shows traces in Leipzig and has an impact on the city’s society. In the absence of a city-wide commemorative concept that critically examines the colonial history of Leipzig’s economy, museums, science, mission, zoo and other institutions, we as a civil society working group strive to comment on and revive places of remembrance.
What do we stand up for?
We actively promote Leipzig’s culture of remembrance by organising vigils and commemorative events in order to present the history of anti-colonial resistance and to make honorary commemoration of the victims of colonialism and racism possible.
We have always set ourselves focal points: in 2019 we organised a series of events on the return of human bones and cultural assets that were violently appropriated during the colonial period and brought to Saxon institutions. We demand further restitutions.
We write open letters and advocate that Leipzig institutions like the Leipzig Zoo disclose their colonial past. We speak at demonstrations, organize events and exhibitions, hold workshops and give city tours.
We are happy to receive inquiries, comments and support in our work!