Decolonize Heidelberg

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heidelberg kolonial
Auf der Suche nach kolonialen Spuren in Geschichte und Gegenwart

We want to understand the colonial history of Heidelberg. To recognize that colonial traces still have an effect today and are visible in the city. To know places in Heidelberg intertwined with colonial history. We want to unravel the structural origin of racism and inform young people of the colonial continuities in Heidelberg. 

Who are we?

The podcast heidelberg kolonial – Auf der Suche nach kolonialen Spuren in Geschichte und Gegenwart is part of the project Decolonize Heidelberg. We — Leonie, Levin, Zehra, Imad, Nadja and Pauli are students in Heidelberg and are working on this project in Migration Hub Heidelberg. 

Together we have been unpacking the topic of colonialism since last summer. In 2020, worldwide protests against structural racism again triggered discussions about current global inequities. Since then, there has been increased public discourse on the historical events that underlie these inequalities, how these events structure today’s mindsets and our societies, and what responsibility former colonial powers bear in the unjust world order. 

We want to make the colonial traces in Heidelberg visible, and show how and where colonialism continues to have an impact today. To this end, we have engaged with current debates on the decolonization of cities, attended workshops on German and Heidelberg colonial history, and read deeper into this field of research. Nevertheless, we are not experts in colonialism. We are young people who want to get to know and understand colonial continuities and want to make this knowledge accessible for our podcast audience.

Therefore, we do not rely solely on our own research for the accuracy of language and content, but are supported by the former members of the association schwarzweiss. Several year ago Schwarzweiss e.V. researched and documented Heidelberg’s colonial history and offered postcolonial city tours. Our podcast heidelberg kolonial builds on their foundational work. Our podcast is financially supported by Mosaik Deutschland e.V. within the framework of the “Demokratie leben!” project.

What is it about?

The topic of our podcast is colonialism – how it came into being, what thinking underlies it and how it still affects society today. The focus is on German colonial history and especially on the colonial past of the city of Heidelberg. In various episodes we will critically examine places, personalities and institutions of this city. 

The podcast is meant to be a virtual city tour of Heidelberg, where each episode deals with the colonial history of one place. In the first part of each episode, we will highlight the history of the site. The second part then investigates how colonialism still affects the respective place today, and which parallels exist between history and the present. Those interested can either go to the physical locations discussed and listen / read to the corresponding episode of the podcast there, or engage with the audio guide from home.

Who is the podcast intended for?

We primarily want to reach students and residents of Heidelberg, but also any other people who are interested in learning more about colonialism. No prior knowledge is necessary to engage with the podcast. Foundational information that is important for understanding the series will be conveyed to our audience in the first episode. The texts of our podcast are not read in scientific language. Instead, we want to explain complex issues as simply as possible and record them in the format of authentic, informal conversations we have with each other. While the podcast will be recorded in German, we hope to release translated transcripts of the episode as soon as possible.

How do we go about it?

We are preparing an introductory episode, which will be released this fall. After that, episodes about the tobacco trade in Heidelberg, Heidelberger “Verbindungen”, the university, and the Völkerkundemuseum in the Altstadt are planned. We would like to upload the approximately 30-minute episodes to the podcast platform Podcaster, as well as to Spotify and Soundcloud. The finished episodes will then be made public and distributed via our social media channels as well as Migration Hub’s website. We will also send the podcast to selected multipliers who are close to our target group in order to reach as many people as possible with our topic. 

We are looking forward to sharing this project with you and will of course post all updates on Instagram and Facebook. Thank you for your support and interest. Stay tuned!