Monumental Silences: de/post/Colonial Remembrance along the Wilhelmstraße and the M-Straße, Berlin, Germany


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowships




This project examines de/post/colonial remembrance along the Wilhelmstraße and the M*hrenstraße, two adjacent streets in central Berlin. Whereas the former, as the site of the 1884-5 Berlin Africa Conference, has witnessed repeated requests for a monument to the victims of colonialism, the latter has been the subject of street renaming campaigns which trace its legacy to a group of enslaved individuals believed to have resided there, while also citing the derogatory nature of the m-word. Through which discourses and practices are official public history as well as grassroots counter memory performed here? Pursuing these questions in contemporary Germany, this project foregrounds two main scales of analysis. Historiographically, it situates these debates within the contemporary global “decolonization” movement, as well the local legacy of “Vergangenheitsaufarbeitung” (coming to terms with the past). Then ethnographically, through developing Memoryscapes: an augmented-reality (AR) street guide, it explores what digital media affords pre-existing embodied commemorative practices like strolls and marches.