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GSSC Seminar Series
07 March 2023


How (not) to Fail a Decolonial Lecture Series – A Reevaluation of the ‚Decolonize Academia!‘ Lecture Series 22/23

Stephan Milich and Sharon Nathan (University of Cologne)



In the lecture series ‚Decolonize Academia‘, we focused on the colonial pasts of the humanities and a number of scientific disciplines such as medicine, ethnology, egyptology, history, or Islamic studies. Next to lecturers, there was a special focus on students and activists, who were also invited to the lecture series to report on their political work and experiences. Together we shed light on the past of the University of Cologne as an institution (the history of institutes, disciplines, persons, curricula, and other areas) and discussed them critically. While one of the main goals of the lecture series was to broaden and deepen our knowledge of colonial academic history, we also opened spaces to think about and address positive change in existing academic structures. In doing so, different perspectives, histories, positions, and analyses on the topic of the colonial past and the present of the university were presented and discussed.
In this GSSC seminar, we first want to report on our original planning concept and assumptions in order to then compare them with our evaluation and results of the lecture series. We hope to create a better framework for future courses with topics regarding decolonization through a joint discussion.

Sharon Nathan works as a research assistant at the Forum Decolonizing Academia and is studying art history and German for a master's degree at the University of Cologne. He is currently writing his master's thesis on the history of architecture for a refugee camp in Neuss.

Stephan Milich is lecturer at the Institute of Languages and Cultures of the Islamicate World and PI at the GSSC. He is a member of the Forum Decolonizing Academia and was part of the organizing team of their lecture series. In the forthcoming summer term, he will teach a class on the colonial/imperial history of German Orientalism, with a special emphasis on scholars/adventurers such as Max von Oppenheim.