Blog

Featured

Episode 1, Part 2: Decolonizing Berlin

In Part 2, we continue the conversation on coloniality in Berlin with Dr. Noa Ha and Prof. Dr. Tahani Nadim to interrogate how decolonization is currently being understood within Berlin institutions. We also discuss our guests’ own positionalities within academia, museums, and political organizations, as well as the decolonial and anti-colonial methodologies they employ in their work and activism.

“When metaphor invades decolonization, it kills the very possibility of decolonization; it recenters whitness, it resettles theory, it extends innocence to the settler, it entertains a settler future.”

Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang
“Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor,” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, and Society, 1 (1) (2012): 1–40.

Episode 1, Part 2: Decolonizing Berlin


In Part 2, we continue the conversation on coloniality in Berlin with Dr. Noa Ha and Prof. Dr. Tahani Nadim to interrogate how decolonization is currently being understood within Berlin institutions.  We also discuss our guests’ own positionalities  within academia, museums, and political organizations, as well as the decolonial and anti-colonial methodologies they employ in their work and activism.

Photograph taken by edna bonhomme

Dr. Noa Ha
Born in West-Germany and child of an Indo-Dutch-German family, Noa Ha has directed the Center for Integration Research at the TU Dresden since 2018. After her formation as landscape gardener, she studied landscape planning at TU Berlin and did her doctorate in architecture on the topic of informality and racism exemplified by street vending in Berlin. She taught and researched in the areas of historical urbanism, urban sociology and the sociology of space at TU Berlin, Center for Metropolitan Studies, and the Humboldt-Universität. Her research investigates processes of urban production from decolonial, critical race theory, feminist and queer theory perspective. She’s a founding member of the “Critical Race, Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies Association” and was active in several organizations such as Migrationsrat Berlin-Brandenburg e.V., of korientation e.V. (an Asian German network) and of Critical Ethnic Studies Association (CESA).

Prof. Dr. Tahani Nadim

Prof. Dr. Tahani Nadim is Junior Professor for Socio-Cultural Anthropology in a joint appointment between the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin and the Department for European Ethnology at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and a researcher at CARMAH since 2017. Her interdisciplinary research combines the sociology and the anthropology of science and focuses on problematizing data practices and data infrastructures in biodiversity discovery and natural history collections. She heads the interdisciplinary research centre Humanities of Nature at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, which examines the politics of nature past and present. She also runs the experimental research unit Bureau for Troubles in which she collaborates with artists and curators. Her writings have appeared in Science as CultureBig Data & Society and the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Her most recent exhibitions include The Influencing Machine (neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst, Berlin 2018-19) and Dead wasps fly further (Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, 2015).

Organizations and projects mentioned in this episode

CREDITS

Interviewed by edna bonhomme, Kristyna Comer, and Marianna Szczygielska, April and May 2019
Recordings by edna bonhomme, Kristyna Comer, and Marianna Szczygielska
Post-production by Kristyna Comer
Music by ispeakwaves (384935 and 439877, Attribution License, Creative Commons), pryght one (27130, Sampling+ License), scotcampbell (263709, Creative Commons 0 License), X3nus (450539, Attribution License, Creative Commons)
Logo by Nina Prader, Lady Liberty Press
Photo by edna bonhomme

Special thanks to Gina Grzimek, Stephanie Hood, Anja Krieger, Dr. Lisa Onaga, Nina Prader, Prof. Dr. Dagmar Schäfer, Karin Weninger, and Dr. Danyang Zhang.

Season 1 Recap

edna bonhomme and Kristyna Comer highlight the contributions from Season 1 of the Decolonization in Action Podcast. We will resume the podcast in mid-March.

In this episode, edna bonhomme and Kristyna Comer, the hosts of the Decolonization in Action Podcast, present an overview of Season 1 and provides excerpts of some of the ways that guests have put decoloniality in their work by interrogating science, museums, memory, the arts, and climate justice. We will resume with Season 2 of the podcast in mid-March 2020.

Image by Nina Prader, http://www.ladylibertypress.org/About-Nina-Prader

The excerpts highlighted in the recap came from the following episodes:

Episode 6: Towards an African Technological & Scientific Imaginary
decolonizationinaction.com/2019/12/10/episode-6/

Episode 8: Heritage Formation
decolonizationinaction.com/2020/01/01/…-formation/

Episode 4: Colonial Medicalization and Homosexuality in the Philippines
decolonizationinaction.com/2019/11/18/…calization/

Episode 10: “Whose Solutions?” Podcast por el Clima at COP25 with Sumugan Sivanesan
decolonizationinaction.com/2020/02/04/…-sivanesan/

Credits

CREDITS

Recordings by edna bonhomme and Kristyna Comer
Music by ispeakwaves (384935 and 439877, Attribution License, Creative Commons), pryght one (27130, Sampling+ License), scotcampbell (263709, Creative Commons License), X3nus (450539, Attribution License, Creative Commons), Halima Ahkdar (64112, Attribution License, Creative Commons)
Logo by Nina Prader, Lady Liberty Press
Photo by edna bonhomme

Episode 10: "Whose Solutions?" Podcast por el Clima at COP25 with Sumugan Sivanesan

This episode presents a chronological sweep of field recordings and interviews taken in Madrid during COP25, December 2019, by our guest host Dr. Sumugan Sivanesan. It begins with the December 6 Manifestacíon in which around 500,000 people marched in the streets of Madrid, before tracing discussions at the Social Summit for the Climate (Cumbre Social por el Clima) at Complutense University and at other actions around the city. In front of the US embassy, this episode focuses on a demonstration led by Indigenous women who sang the Women’s Warrior Song, a song written by Martina Pierre from the Lil’wat First Nation that honors missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Indigenous women face the highest rates of murder and sexual assault in North America, and in Madrid the song connected these crimes to extractivist fossil fuel industries operating on unceded Indigenous lands. The montage culminates five days later with a casserolado noise demonstration outside the COP, in support of Indigenous delegates, Fridays For Future, and other civil society groups staging a demonstration inside the COP against the removal of references to Human Rights in the negotiations and widespread reports of bullying and inaction.

This episode includes interviews and speeches by:
ASAD REHMAN, Executive Director of War on Want
VANESSA NAKATE, Founder of the Rise Up Movement
NICOLE FIGUEIREDO DE OLIVEIRA, Director of 350.org in Brazil and Latin America
MARTA BORDONS MARTÍNEZ, Climate activist, Fridays for Future Sevilla
MOÑEKA DE ORO, member of the Micronesia Climate Alliance
NIGEL HENRI ROBINSON, Denesuline organizer, radio host, and humorist from Cold Lake First Nations, Indigenous Climate Action
CHIEF DANA TIZYA-TRAMM, Vuntut Gwitchen First Nation

Muchas gracias to Grey Filastine and all who participated in Sound Swarm #5; Amalen, Danny, Delia, and Kevin from the Artivist Network; Fiona Capdevila, and Stijn Verhoeff.

And a special thanks to Ruth Miller from Native Movement, who shared the history and meaning behind the Women’s Warrior Song.

WHOSE SOLUTIONS?: CORPORATE CAPTURE OF COP25
BY SUMUGAN SIVANESAN

In October 2019, the UN COP bureau accepted an offer from Spain to move COP25 to Madrid in December, after Chile, announced Santiago was no longer a suitable host due to political upheavals. Nevertheless, Chile remained the president of the Conference of Parties in Madrid.

Since COP15 in Paris 2015, only one of these Summits has been held outside of Europe; in Marrakesh 2016. When I arrived in Madrid, a friend from Barcelona told me that despite the late change of location, there was some excitement around this COP as it was more accessible to activists from Spain and Portugal who were reluctant to fly to Germany, France, and Poland. However, many activists were also cynical about Madrid’s offer to host the COP. In contrast to the streets of Santiago, Madrid’s city government swung from Left to Center-Right following elections in May 2019. Locals discussed mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida’s bid to dismantle Madrid Central, a low emission zone banning petrol-fueled cars from the city center. Some described Martínez-Almeida as an opportunist, seizing the chance to host the COP to bring his administration global attention and prestige.

Activists often describe the COP as a vehicle to facilitate “corporate greenwashing,” in which representatives of extractive industries responsible for emissions and toxicity are able to brand the event and promote their interests. During a ‘Toxic Tour’ of Madrid’s financial district, activists explained that when Spanish President Pedro Sánchez announced that Madrid would host COP25, he contacted the Ibex35—the 35 biggest listed companies in the Spanish stock exchange—offering them tax breaks for a range of sponsorship packages worth millions of euros. Spanish coal, oil, and gas companies Iberdrola and Endesa soon signed on to become ‘”Diamond sponsors” of COP25, contributing €2 million each. Other patrons included Santander Bank (€1 million) which is heavily involved in coal financing and Suez, one of the largest water privatization firms in the world. Such deals drew criticisms about the ‘”corporate capture” of the COP, which included representatives from Shell participating on panels, despite criticism that the company had influenced the wording of the Paris Agreement, specifically Article 6 concerning carbon markets. As one of many independent tours operating in downtown Madrid on a sunny Saturday morning, the Toxic Tour was singled out by police who threatened them with fines of over €3,000 if the group did not disperse.

Article 6 was one of the key issues discussed at COP25,with delegates attempting to develop a “rule book” to regulate the implementation carbon markets. As part of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) corporations such as BP, Chevron, Shell, and Total have lobbied against placing limits or protections on trading schemes, such as those to ensure the rights of indigenous people, women and the poor who often bear the brunt of ecological violence. Even after the negotiations extended for two extra days, COP25 concluded with an impasse. Australia was accused of cheating for insisting that it use “carryover” carbon credits to achieve its emissions targets for 2030, a method described as an accounting loophole. Alongside the US and Brazil, the country in the midst of a nation-wide wildfire emergency, was called out for blocking progress in Madrid and the Paris Agreement’s ambitions to limit global warming to 1.5° C. Notably, the Australian Government hosted an invitation only reception in Madrid with the Carbon Market Institute, whose members include, again, Shell and BP alongside gas and oil company ConocoPhillips. For many civil society groups, the influence of “big business” on governments and in the COP are indicative that “solutions” based on neoliberal ideology are assumed to be the only means to “save the planet” rather than strategies devised by civil society groups, indigenous peoples and trade unions. Grasping on this sentiment during a general assembly at Cumbre Social, representatives from the People’s Summit in Chile reflecting on the constitutional reforms occurring there claimed that “the place where neoliberalism was born is now where it will die.”


SUMUGAN SIVANESAN

Sumugan Sivanesan is an anti-disciplinary artist, researcher, and writer. Often working collaboratively, his interests span migrant histories and minority politics, activist media, artist infrastructures, and more-than-human rights. He is active with the Black Earth Environmental and Climate Justice Collective in Berlin and blogs at: www.shadowofthefuture.org.

Photo credit: Adam Berry


CREDITS
Interviews, recordings, and post-production by Sumugan Sivanesan
Photograph by Sumugan Sivanesan
Assistance by edna bonhomme and Kristyna Comer

Special thanks to the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.

Episode 9: Beyond Survival: The (Post)colonial Comedian

Kate Cheka and edna bonhomme discuss the anti-colonial dimensions of laughter.

In this episode, Berlin-based comedian, Kate Cheka discusses the Enlightenment, (post)coloniality, and the power of protest. In addition to talking about her work in comedy and the radical potential of joy and community building comedy can create, Kate also shares her scholarly research from her master’s thesis which centered around decolonial critiques of the Enlightenment. After studying in New Delhi and Buenos Aires, Kate also talks about how traveling to formerly colonized cities gave her an expanded understanding of ongoing forms of coloniality as well as the ways in which the classroom continues to be a colonial space.

Kate Cheka is a Berlin-based recent graduate in MA Global Studies at the Humboldt University. Her thesis entitled The Threat of European, Enlightenment Thinking in (Post)colonial Spaces was inspired by her time at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. It is about the exportation of the hyper-rationality of European thinking to the Global South. Presenting the voices of feminist, decolonial, and marginalized theorists it argues that the solutions to our present crises already exist but are often overlooked by Western hegemony. She is also a regular on the Berlin comedy scene and produces two shows – a femmes open mic Shows before Bros (every third Wednesday of the month) and a women of color showcase WOKE PANTIES.

Kate Cheka Standup.

For upcoming shows https://www.facebook.com/katecheka

REFERENCES

Audre Lorde, The Uses of Anger

CREDITS

Interview by edna bonhomme

Audio Production Editing by edna bonhomme

Assistance by Kristyna Comer

Music by Copyright one (27130, Sampling+ License), krytoss (167388, Creative Commons 0 License)

Episode 8: Heritage Formation

IN THIS EPISODE, DR. DUANE JETHRO DISCUSSES THE WAYS THAT HERITAGE SITES ARE CONSTRUCTED AND RE-IMAGINED THROUGH THE SENSES WITH SPECIAL EMPHASIS ON POST-APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA AND GERMANY.

Image photographed by edna bonhomme from the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa.

DR. DUANE JETHRO

Dr. Duane Jethro is a post-doctoral research fellow working with the project Making Differences at the Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage (CARMAH) Department of European Ethnology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. CARMAH was established in the Department for European Ethnology at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, in partnership with the Museum of Natural History Berlin and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, as part of the research award for Sharon Macdonald’s Alexander von Humboldt Professorship. His research looks at the mobilization of post-colonial and decolonial language in the context of contested street renaming, heritage commodification, as well as heritage aesthetics and social difference in Berlin.

Dr. Duane Jethro.

He is a graduate of the University of Utrecht. He is an Associate Research Fellow at the Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative at the University of Cape Town, where held a post-doctoral research fellowship in 2016.  In 2017 he was awarded a Georg Forster Alexander von Humboldt Post Doctoral Research Fellowship. His research focuses on the cultural construction of heritage and contested public cultures. He is a regular contributor to the online blog Africasacountry and has published in Material ReligionAfrican Diaspora and Tourist Studies and the International Journal of Heritage Studies. His book Heritage Formation and the Senses in Post-Apartheid South Africa is published by Bloomsbury Academic. The book references the pathbreaking, sensuous work of the historian and journalist Jacob Dlamini. See his book Native Nostalgiahere. It also frames South Africa’s fraught memory politics. 

LINKS

A list of the organizations doing important black activist work in the Berlin, especially in regards to colonial legacies marked in street names and sites:

Africavenir – http://www.africavenir.org/
Berlin Post-Kolonial – http://berlin-postkolonial.de/en/home-2 
Each One Teach One – https://www.eoto-archiv.de/
Institute for Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland – http://isdonline.de/

CREDITS

Interview by edna bonhomme and post-production by Kristyna Comer
Music by pryght one (27130, Sampling+ License), scotcampbell (263709, Creative Commons 0 License), X3nus (450539, Attribution License, Creative Commons)

Episode 7: "Climate Justice Matters For Black Lives Now": Black Interventions in the Climate Crisis

While COP25 is taking place in Madrid, edna bonhomme discusses the climate crisis with Rebecca Abena Kennedy-Asante from BLACK EARTH, a BIPoC Environmental and Climate Justice Collective in Berlin, and Antoinette Yetunde Oni, an architectural designer and artist based in Lagos, Nigeria.

Photo by BLACK EARTH – BIPoC Environmental & Climate Justice Kollektiv Berlin 2019

This episode focuses on Black and African people who dedicate their creative practices and activist work to climate justice and sustainable futures. While the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) is taking place in Madrid, edna bonhomme discusses the climate crisis with Rebecca Abena Kennedy-Asante from BLACK EARTH – BIPoC Environmental & Climate Justice Kollektiv Berlin, and Antoinette Yetunde Oni, an architectural designer and artist based in Lagos, Nigeria.

The episode begins with Antoinette Yetunde Oni, a Lagos-based artist who was a 2019 fellow at ZK/U, Center for Art and Urbanistics in Berlin in cooperation with the Department for Art and Culture Berlin-Mitte, Galerie Wedding, SAVVY Contemporary Berlin, and the Arthouse Foundation Lagos. Antoinette talks about her recent exhibition, New Commons Lagos to Berlin, in Berlin at Galerie Wedding and her commitment to activating design and African sustainable practices as ways to combat the climate crisis. She also connects how extractive capitalism and colonialism are not only the underlying causes of increased flooding in Lagos but are also directly related to racism and the exclusion of BIPoC activists within climate movements in London and Berlin. To prevent the climate crisis from continuing, she discusses how people need to come before profit.

In the second part of this episode, Rebecca Abena Kennedy-Asante from BLACK EARTH – BIPoC Environmental & Climate Justice Kollektiv Berlin contextualizes the recent Fridays for Future Climate Strike in Berlin within the country the emits the most carbon pollution in Europe: Germany. In order to confront the climate crisis, she talks about the importance of understanding how this crisis itself arose, which is the story of colonialism, industrialization, and violence that has lasted over 500 years. She also links current climate justice movements with centuries of anti-colonial struggles, discussing how protecting land rights has always been about also protecting the environment, while also talking about how the BLACK EARTH collective brings Black and Indigenous as well as non-cis, trans, intra, and non-binary perspectives to the climate justice movement in Berlin.

REBECCA ABENA KENNEDY-ASANTE

Rebecca Abena Kennedy-Asante studied naturopathy, nature conservation, and ecology in Berlin and Potsdam. In addition to botany, Abeni is interested in movements that are anti-racist, queer*feminist, and ecological. Abeni is part of a Black and People of Colour group, which is reclaiming environmental and climate justice. BLACK EARTH – BIPoC Environmental & Climate Justice Kollektiv Berlin deals with sustainability, veganism, environmental, and climate justice from Black and PoC perspectives. How do the oppression of marginalized groups and the exploitation of ecosystems relate to each other? Which ecosystems and people are particularly affected by climate change? The aim is not only to question the white and cis heterodominated left-wing activist*environmental scene, but also to create a space for intersectional activism in which BIPoC feel comfortable.

BLACK EARTHBIPoC Environmental & Climate Justice Kollektiv Berlin
RECENT ARTICLES & ACTIONS

Photo by BLACK EARTH – BIPoC Environmental & Climate Justice Kollektiv Berlin 2019

ANTOINETTE YETUNDE ONI

Antoinette Yetunde Oni is a Nigerian architectural designer and artist whose work narrates fictitious futuristic landscapes and architectural interventions that explore solutions to environmental concerns such as resource degradation and desertification in differing contexts.

Her exploration of the Sahel Region and the wider West African topography began during her time as an NGO representative at the United Nations where she advocated for rural women’s land rights in Ghana and Nigeria.

In addition to her work as an artist and advocate, she worked as a designer for a Lagos-based architecture firm where she collaborated with local artisans on projects of varying scales.

Her most recent work includes a joint exhibition New Commons Lagos to Berlin where she explored the importance of culturally dynamic spaces in Berlin such as the Dong Xuan market in Lichtenberg and the positioning of diasporic communities in the current climate debate. Her medium is collaging, painting and digital print.

Antoinette holds a BA (honours) in Architecture from the Manchester School of Architecture and is currently undergoing an MSc in Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences at the Technische Universiteit Delft in the Netherlands.

Website
LinkedIn
ZK/U Fellowship Project, New Commons

CREDITS

Interview and post-production by edna bonhomme
Music by pryght one (27130, Sampling+ License), scotcampbell (263709, Creative Commons 0 License), X3nus (450539, Attribution License, Creative Commons)

Episode 6: Towards an African Technological & Scientific Imaginary

In this episode, edna bonhomme is in conversation with Dr. Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga, Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society (STS) at MIT and the founder of Research || Design || Build, a village-based institute in rural Zimbabwe.

Image: “Technician in biotech laboratory” by IITA Image Library is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In this episode, edna bonhomme and Professor Chakanetsa Mavhunga discuss the history of the African continent with relation to scientific, technological, and medical innovations. A central element of this conversation is the role that philosophical traditions and space have in shaping the epistemology of knowledge. They also examine Africa’s colonial history, the power of historical narrative, African women scientists, and the future of innovation on the African continent.

DR. CLAPPERTON CHAKANETSA MAVHUNGA

Chakanetsa self-identifies as a critical thinker-doer, who deploys historical research in service of problem-solving. Chakanetsa is a tenured associate professor of science, technology, and society (STS) at MIT and the founder of Research || Design || Build, a village-based institute in rural Zimbabwe dedicated to promoting interdisciplinary problem-solving, innovation, and entrepreneurship among Africa’s rural poor. He is the author of three books on science, technology, and innovation in Africa, viz.: Transient Workspaces: Technologies of Everyday Innovation in Zimbabwe (2014); What Do Science, Technology, and Innovation Mean from Africa? (2017, editor); and The Mobile Workshop: The Tsetse Fly and African Knowledge Production (2018), and is working on the fourth, titled African Chemistry: Science with an African Totem. He has given numerous talks, including at TED and Google.

WEBSITES

RECENT PUBLICATIONS

RECENT PRESENTATIONS

CREDITS

Interview and post-production by edna bonhomme
Music by ispeakwaves (384935, Attribution License, Creative Commons), pryght one (27130, Sampling+ License), scotcampbell (263709, Creative Commons 0 License), X3nus (450539, Attribution License, Creative Commons)

Episode 5: Economics, Expertise, and Revolution in Postcolonial Sudan

In this episode, edna bonhomme is in conversation with Dr. Alden Young, Assistant Professor of African American Studies at UCLA.

In this episode, edna bonhomme is in conversation with Dr. Alden Young, Assistant Professor of African American Studies at UCLA. Dr. Young traces the impact of multiple colonialisms in Sudan under the Ottoman Empire, Egypt, and the British Empire. Critiquing reductive historiographies of the civil wars in Sudan and discussing recent protests in Khartoum and throughout Sudan, Dr. Young connects how petroleum, mining, and austerity measures under former President Omar al-Bashir and the IMF relate to the ongoing economic crisis as well as have led to extensive resistance against imperialist structures in Sudan, highlighting especially the activism and theoretical works by Sudanese womanists. Dr Young also addresses postcolonial Sudan, economic science, and planning by Sudanese experts.

DR. ALDEN YOUNG

photo:  Dan Komoda/Institute for Advanced Study

Alden Young is a political and economic historian of Africa. He is particularly interested in the ways in which Africans participated in the creation of the current international order. He is an assistant professor of African American Studies and a member of the International Institute, affiliated with the International Development Studies Program. In 2019–2020, Young will be a member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Previously, he was an assistant professor in African History and the Director of the Africana Studies Program at Drexel University. His first book  Transforming Sudan: Decolonization, Economic Development, and State Formation was published by Cambridge University Press in December 2017. 

UCLA, Department of African American Studies
Transforming Sudan: Decolonization, Economic Development, and State Formation (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

CREDITS

Interview and post-production by edna bonhomme
Music by ispeakwaves (384935, Attribution License, Creative Commons), pryght one (27130, Sampling+ License), scotcampbell (263709, Creative Commons 0 License), X3nus (450539, Attribution License, Creative Commons)