Decolonial Gazing and Hermeneutic Resistance: Black German Challenges to White German Cultural Hegemony in the Museum

This work in progress essay highlights the ways that Black Europeans, in this case in the German context, challenge universalizing notions of cultural heritage to highlight decolonial possibilities and interrogate the collection, display, and spectatorship of museum objects in majority-white contexts. I use the Berlin Ethnological museum in its former and current iterations as a representative example of debates about collecting and looking at museums, showing how thinkers like Fatima El-Tayeb and Kum’a Ndumbe III and initiatives like No Humboldt21! offer challenges to universalizing discourses and reflect the gaze back on whiteness. Finally, I offer a reading of a literary challenge to this universalism in Sharon Dodua Otoo’s 2021 novel Adas Raum (Ada's Realm).

Maureen Gallagher is a lecturer in German Studies at ANU. She holds a PhD in German Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is currently working on a book manuscript on whiteness in Wilhelmine German youth literature and culture based on her dissertation. Her research and teaching interests include race and gender in German colonial literature, Black German Studies, connections between German Studies and Indigenous Studies, and inclusive, anti-racist and decolonial teaching practices.

COVID safe event: Social distancing / masks mandatory / COVID safety officer

Online: Zoom Meeting ID: 861 8419 0389 / Password: 2022

Date & time

Thu 06 Oct 2022, 4.30–6pm


A.D. Hope Building Rm. G28


Maureen Gallagher, ANU


Russell Smith


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