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Kassel Postcolonial


The ubiquity of German Pharmacies bearing the name ‘Mohr’ or ‘Mohrenapotheke’, including one in Senior Fellow Eric Otieno’s neighborhood triggered his Action Project, which became integrated into a larger collaborative project, Kassel Postkolonial. ‘Mohr_In’ is the oldest German term that has been used to construct blackness as otherness, and can be considered equivalent to the N-word in the United States.

This degree of ubiquity would be unthinkable if the pharmacies names contained Nazi language or symbolism. However, colonial language is largely tolerated (and even embraced) in public spaces all over Germany.

Eric was looking for ways of getting into conversation with one of the aforementioned pharmacies in his neighborhood, in the hope that conversation would motivate them to think about and maybe even change their name. After a disappointing experience with a bakery which was selling Mohrenköpfe (N-Heads) made of chocolate in Kassel, Eric decided that it was more constructive and systematic to engage the people who were buying at these places rather than those who owned them.

Colonial language is largely tolerated (and even embraced) in public spaces all over Germany.

The Kassel Postkolonial project assembled a comprehensive repository of knowledge resources online (website) to enable interested citizens of Kassel to engage with their city from a postcolonial perspective. They have also conceptualized a decolonial city walk that will enable groups to engage with colonialities (colonial continuities) within the cityscape of Kassel in a more intuitive way. This will hopefully begin to displace the amnesia around colonialism and its aftermath in Kassel.

Eric’s Action Project addressed the issue of colonial amnesia within the population of Kassel (and Germany by extension) and the lack of awareness of how power asymmetries, knowledge structures and ways of being resulting from colonialism manifest themselves in contemporary cityscapes.

The Kassel Postkolonial collective aims to continuously update the Website with up to date research, photography, podcasts and other multimedia educational formats with an explicit local focus on Kassel and its engagement with colonial history and continuities. Scholars and activists are welcome to propose projects that would fit in this category. Read more about this Action Project in German on their website here.