Postcolonialism, decolonization and identity politics are on everyone's lips. These buzzwords and discourses are being used to fight over resources, access, and interpretive sovereignty. But beyond the staged fronts of the debates, how can their inherent contradictions and local derivations be discussed productively? Is universalism passé forever? How do we capture non-Western imperialism? And what, please, is the difference between decolonial and postcolonial?
In the fall of 2019, curator Julian Warner invited art mediator Nora Sternfeld, protest researcher Olga Reznikova, and cultural anthropologist Rohit Jain to a symposium as part of the After Europe festival at Sophiensæle to discuss central concepts and issues in these discourses. A nuanced dispute unfolded in which open discussion, rather than immediate determination, was the order of the day. Now an edited version of this discussion has been published by Verbrecher Verlag. Time for a review and an outlook.
ROHIT JAIN is a social anthropologist, artistic researcher and cultural activist from Bern. In 2014, he completed his PhD at the University of Zurich on the transnational representational politics of Swiss-Indian Second@s between assimilation, exoticism and diaspora. He has also researched and published on racism and humor on television, the de-colonization of cultural institutions, and cultural participation. Rohit Jain has participated in artistic research projects at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) on the aesthetics of agglomeration (2014) and on the Swiss gold trade (2016), was part of the expert group in the project Die Ganze Welt in Zürich at the Shedhalle Zürich (2016/2017), and was jointly responsible for the resulting anti-racist happening series Salon Bastarde. He is co-founder of the Berner Rassismusstammtisch and member of the network Institut Neue Schweiz INES.
OLGA REZNIKOVA is a cultural anthropologist. She studied first at the St. Petersburg Institute for Jewish Studies and then at the LMU Munich. After graduating with a degree in European Ethnology (2012), she worked as a research assistant at LMU and Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, including in the DFG project Urban Ethics. From 2015 to 2020, she completed her PhD in Göttingen on the topic of workers’ protests in Russia, for which she ethnographically accompanied a truckers’ strike near Moscow for several years. She publishes journalistic and academic articles on feminism, racism, protest culture and anti-Semitism in Russian, German and English.
JULIAN WARNER works transdisciplinary as a cultural anthropologist in the fields of curation, music, performance art and science. He is artistic director of the festival of the cultural region Stuttgart 2022 and curator for the performancefestival Spielart (Munich). Under the alias Fehler Kuti he publishes discourse pop. He was a performer of various essay-performances by Oliver Zahn as well as dramaturg and ethnographer of Anta Helena Recke's Schwarzkopie Mittelreich. As a research assistant he worked at the Institute for Cultural Anthropology at the Georg-August-University Göttingen and is co-editor with Elisa Liepsch of the anthology ALLIANZEN - Kritische Praxis an weißen Institutionen. As part of HAUPTAKTION, he co-edited the volume Texte zur Turnkunst with Hannah Saar and Oliver Zahn at Verbrecher Verlag 2020.