Controversies over antisemitism and colonial racism in history and memory politics



Prof. Dr. Claudia Bruns

with Cornelia von Einem, Janine Fubel and Sanna Stegmaier

Department of Cultural History and Theory

Controversial debates about the relationship between antisemitisms and colonial racisms have recently (re)emerged in Germany and international contexts, highlighting the historic entanglements of the Holocaust, colonial genocides, and their impacts on memory politics. They challenge whether the Holocaust can be compared to colonial genocides, let alone its singularity be questioned. At the same time, they ask what (positive) consequences could be gained from the stronger integration of colonial racisms in our memory cultures? Could links between different racisms, genocides, and memory discourses not rather be productive and, in addition to the criticism of antisemitisms, allow the identification and criticism of colonial racisms in contemporary cultures? And how can we discuss these questions in less harmful ways?

In our lecture series, we set out to discuss the controversial entanglements between antisemitism and colonial racism, as well as their interrelated transnational memory discourses. In doing so, we depart from a particularly German research tradition of engaging with antisemitism/antijudaism and colonial racism/postcolonialism as distinct concepts, and its subsequent creation and institutionalisation of competitive memory discourses.