Decolonizing the Museum – Transnational Comparisons


In 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in Washington, DC, against the background of intense debates about public memorialization of slavery and the Civil War, and calls for reparations. Meanwhile, a growing number of exhibitions in German museums have begun to tackle German colonial history, including the genocide of Hereros and Namas in what was then German-Southwest Africa, and explore its legacies in a culturally diverse society. Historians, curators, artists, and activists in both countries are at the center of discussions about dire pasts, the politics of collecting and exhibiting, and the possibility of repair.

Scholars and curators from the USA and Germany will speak about recent efforts to create postcolonial approaches to cultural heritage, cosmopolitan pedagogy, and museums’ engagement with postcolonial communities.  

The conference will include a keynote by Dr. Silke Arnold-de Simine (University of London), a prominent scholar of museum studies; two academic panels presenting case studies on exhibiting the colonial past from Germany and slavery in the USA; and two roundtables with scholars from Georgetown University about GU’s efforts to come to terms with the university’s history of slavery, and with artists working in German museums, respectively. The conference will take place Friday, November 9 at Georgetown University and Saturday, November 10, at Howard University. More details on the program and presenters will be made available closer to the conference date.


Prof. Katrin Sieg, BMW Center for German and European Studies and German Department, Georgetown University (Washington/DC).  Sieg is the author of several monographs on German theater and performance, European culture, and critical race studies. She recently completed a book manuscript titled Decolonizing German History at the Museum (currently under review at University of Michigan Press).

Prof. Ana-Lucia Araujo, History Department, Howard University (Washington/DC). Ana Lucia Araujo is a social and cultural historian whose work explores the history and the memory of the Atlantic slave trade and slavery and their social and cultural legacies. Her most recent book is Reparations for Slavery and the Slave Trade: A Transnational and Comparative History (2017). Araujo is a full professor in the Department of History at Howard University.