Europe and its Colonial Legacy: Postcolonial Perspectives on Europe

Friday, December 11, 2015 to Saturday, December 12, 2015

Organized by:

Barbara Lüthi and Ulrike Lindner


University of Cologne
Room 3.229, 3rd Floor

During the past decade the notion and understanding of Europe has experienced a re-evaluation within the social science and the humanities concerning its political, geographical and identitarian dimensions. One major aspect of this reevaluation has been the relation to its colonial past. This trend has strongly been influenced by postcolonial studies which does not only focus on the significance of colonizing and decolonizing processes and practices for the societies involved, but also deals with the effects and aftermaths of colonization on cultures and societies up to the present.
The workshop will focus on two themes: First, how can postcolonial studies help generate new and productive questions with respect to Europe’s past and present? The imperial and colonial past has found little reflection, for example, in the historiography concerning the birth of the European Union. Second, how did (post-)imperial formations influence parts of Europe that were not formally colonizing societies and had an explicit self-understanding as being outside the realm of colonialism, but nevertheless engaged in the colonial project in a variety of ways and shared from its profits?
A whole set of questions may be linked to these two themes: What actually is ‘Europe’? What are the specific geopolitical and cultural ‘characteristics’ of this (racialized) construction? Who is included/exluded and how do the differential modulation of inequalities show? How have each of these countries identified with colonialism and been caught in their colonial legacy? Can one study European and non-European forms of empire in the same analytical frame? How can we conceptualize the different „degrees of tolerance, of difference, of domination, and of rights“ (Stoler/McGranahan/Perdue, Imperial Formations 2007) as well as the different structures of dominance for European and non-European imperial polities?