Johanna Kreft

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Department of Modern Languages
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD Title: Beyond "colonial amnesia" - Decolonising German institutional memory through transformative social activism
Supervisors: Professor Sara Jones, Dr Emanuelle Santos, Associate Professor Jenny Wüstenberg
PhD German Studies


  • Master of Arts


I am a German Studies PhD Researcher in the first year of my PhD project, examining postcolonial memory culture in Germany and the role of transformative social activism. My project is M4C/AHRC funded. Prior to commencing my PhD in February 2021, I gained my MA in Postcolonial Studies at the University of Birmingham in 2019, then worked for a while in the educational sector before returning to academic work in 2021.


In its current form, Germany’s mainstream memory landscape maintains a widespread neglect towards Germany’s colonial past, as most memory and educational institutions still avoid a genuine engagement with this historical period and its legacies. This promotes a gravely ahistoric version of Germany’s past and contributes to the marginalisation of local communities descending from formerly colonised societies. Throughout the last decades, scholars and activists have been scrutinising mainstream society, propelling critical postcolonial approaches, and demanding a re-engagement with Germany’s colonial period. My PhD research seeks to investigate more closely this development of a postcolonial memory culture that has been emerging over the past 40 years. The project focuses on how different spheres within German society – mainstream society, political and cultural institutions, academics, activists and minoritised communities – engage with the memory of the German colonial experience. One of the particular interests is to learn about how civil society initiatives participate in shaping this discourse and to explore their transformative potential to encourage a 'decolonisation' of mainstream German memory culture.