Global Arts and Cultures

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Learning from the Germans? | A Conversation Around the Politics of Memorialization


Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Tap Room (4th Floor), Memorial Hall

Literary Arts & Studies (LAS), Global Arts & Cultures (GAC) and the Division of Liberal Arts are pleased to present a conversation on the politics of memorialization with scholars Nikita Dhawan and María do Mar Castro Varela. Join us for a presentation by our guests followed by a Q&A session.

In her book Learning from the Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil, Susan Neiman argues that Germany is exemplary in how a country can come to terms with its historical wrongdoings. Tracing the long and difficult path Germans faced in their effort to atone for the crimes of the Holocaust, Neiman outlines how progress is evident in laws, in language and in the education system. However, a number of controversies in the past years over Germany's colonial past indicate the pitfalls of German Vergangenheitsaufarbeitung (working through the past). These controversies confront us with the challenge of how to think together different forms of discrimination and memorialization. The event addresses the conundrums of memory politics and engages with the “unfinished conversations” between Holocaust and Postcolonial Studies.

María do Mar Castro Varela is Professor of Pedagogy and Social Work at the Alice Salomon University in Berlin. Her research interests include Postcolonial Theory, Gender and Queer Studies, social justice, digital hate, and emancipation. Selected Publications: Untimely Utopias. Migrant Women between Learned Hope and Self-Invention; Postcolonial Theory. A Critical Introduction (co-authored); Post/Pandemic Lives. A New Theory of Fragility (co-authored) [all published in German]. In 2020 she was awarded the Sir Peter Ustinov Guest Professorship at the Institute for Contemporary History, University of Vienna, and in 2023 the Thomas Mann Fellowship. María do Mar Castro Varela is the founder of the bildungsLab* ( and Chair of the Institute for Contrapuntual Social Analysis.

Nikita Dhawan holds the Chair in Political Theory and History of Ideas at the Technical University Dresden. Her research and teaching focuses on global justice, human rights, democracy and decolonization. She received the Käthe Leichter Award in 2017 for outstanding achievements in the pursuit of women’s and gender studies and in support of the women’s movement and the achievement of gender equality. Selected publications include: Impossible Speech: On the Politics of Silence and Violence (2007); Decolonizing Enlightenment: Transnational Justice, Human Rights and Democracy in a Postcolonial World (ed., 2014); Reimagining the State: Theoretical Challenges and Transformative Possibilities (ed., 2019); Rescuing the Enlightenment from the Europeans: Critical Theories of Decolonization (forthcoming). In 2023, she was awarded the Gerda-Henkel-Visiting Professorship at Stanford University and the Thomas Mann Fellowship.