In August 2019, the Berlin House of Representatives approved the development of a city-wide reappraisal and remembrance concept on the history and consequences of colonialism in the state of Berlin. (DS 18/1788).
The coordination office is responsible for shaping a participatory process whose goal is to formulate concrete proposals to intensify the examination of Germany's colonial past, to anchor the topic in science and education, and to develop dignified forms of remembrance.
The concept for the decolonization of Berlin is to include the areas of culture, education, economy, science and research as well as the activation of Berlin's city partnership with Windhoek (Namibia).
Accompanying research work is an integral part of the project.
Together with representatives from civil society, politics, administration and districts, concrete measures will be developed by the end of 2021.
City-wide concept on Berlin's colonial past
The basis for coming to terms with colonialism lies in taking responsibility for the colonial past and its crimes. This must be at the beginning of any concept. In 2020, demands based on a long tradition of anti-colonial and anti-racist resistance, which has been shown in local contexts but also on the international stage, were jointly developed in various events. Existing civil society demands and concepts were taken up in the process.
So far, over 250 people from 30 associations, individual activists and representatives from 5 districts and 6 senate administrations have participated in the events, which have taken place in analog, digital or hybrid formats.
In 2021, various exchange and event formats will again be offered in order to pursue the creation of a city-wide concept for coming to terms with Berlin's colonial past. The final report of the coordination office will be published in the last quarter of 2021.
In this interim report, we summarize the initial results of the participatory process for a citywide concept for coming to terms with Berlin's colonial past. The aforementioned measures build on the experiences and demands of those affected, who have been fighting against foreign domination and oppression on a local and global level for centuries.
Colonial continuities are evident above all in institutional and structural racism, social inequality and economic exploitation. How deeply these are anchored in society is illustrated in this brochure on the basis of four sub-areas: Education and Science, Art and Culture, Memory and Urban Society, and Municipal International Cooperation. In the process, it is made clear that politics at every level of decision-making can make a contribution to eliminating discrimination inherent in the colonial tradition.
In addition to the first concrete demands and measures, eight authors and interviewees have highlighted anti-colonial resistance and necessary aspects of decolonization processes.
Zukunftskonferenz: Gemeinsam Berlin dekolonisieren!
The Future Conference took place as a two-day, analog and digital meeting on September 15 and 16, 2020 in Berlin. The World Café format was used. In the thematic areas of science, education, art and culture, memory and narrative, as well as urban society and municipal international cooperation, further concrete measures and demands were developed for the city-wide concept. In addition, the exchange between the participants was deepened by panel discussions with representatives from politics and civil society. Here, the opportunities and challenges for the city-wide concept for coming to terms with Berlin's colonial past were discussed from different perspectives, and possibilities were discussed for anchoring community knowledge and knowledge of the People of African Descent (PAD) as well as civil society perspectives even more strongly in the majority society, in the administration and in politics.
Civil Society Open Space: Black Power. White Sharing. What does it mean to decolonize Berlin together?
From 08 to 09 August 2020, about 40 people exchanged views on very different aspects of decolonization. In this self-organized format, the participants shaped the agenda. Activists and representatives from civil society discussed, for example, the necessity of recognizing the genocide of the OvaHerero and Nama, concepts of remembrance, the role of the media and starting points in the field of extra(school) education as well as resource sharing. The results flowed into the preparation of the Future Conference in September 2020.
At the strategy day on June 14, 2020, activists and representatives of Black, diasporic, postcolonial, and development groups and associations exchanged ideas about decolonization processes and formulated two action guiding criteria for the participation process:
- Measures are developed in a participatory process with civil society and in particular with black, afro-diasporic and migrant groups
- Maßnahmen werden im Bewusstsein eines bereits jahrelang andauernden antikolonialen Widerstands in den ehemaligen Kolonien und in Deutschland erarbeitet.
Kick-off event for a city-wide reappraisal concept on Berlin's colonial past
The official kick-off for the project took place with a kick-off event on 15.01.2020, where the goals and the approach of the coordination office were presented. The goal of the concept is to provide impetus for decolonization processes and to develop concrete measures that can be implemented at the district and state level. At the event, representatives from politics, administration and civil society discussed the first key points and worked out initial ideas and starting points for the areas of education, science, art, culture, memory and narrative as well as urban society and justice in three working groups.
Resolution of the Berlin House of Representatives: Berlin takes responsibility for its colonial past
The Berlin House of Representatives decides to develop a city-wide reappraisal and remembrance concept on the history and consequences of colonialism in Berlin. The Berlin State Office for Development Cooperation (LEZ) in the Senate Department for Economic Affairs, Energy and Operations will provide 250,000 euros annually for 2020-2021 for the coordination office at Decolonize Berlin e.V.. With these funds, the coordination office will organize the participation of all involved actors from politics, administration, civil society and urban institutions around the development of such a concept and its measures.
The team of the coordination office Coordination office for a city-wide concept to come to terms with Berlin's colonial past is responsible for the design of a participatory process and a contact point for representatives from Berlin's civil society, administration and politics who are committed to a critical examination and reappraisal of Germany's colonial past.
Since May 2020, the coordination office has been staffed with the two co-leaders Anab Awale and Merel Fuchs, as well as the finance officer Adel Oworu.
We see ourselves as a point of contact for suggestions, criticism and proposals. As an interface between the different levels, we coordinate and optimize the communication structures between civil society actors, the administration and politics.
We look forward to talking to you and introducing you to us and our work. Please feel free to contact us at any time: info[at]decolonize-berlin.de