The three-day forum, held in the inspiring setting of Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park, brought together visionary, engaged young people from across the United Kingdom and Germany, to discuss key aspects of democratic life and shared pasts. Delegates included students, social influencers, artists and cultural producers, politicians, representatives of civil society initiatives, community organisers, writers, intellectuals, and inspiring public figures.
The inaugural British-German Democracy Forum took place between the 25-27th of October 2021. Delegates examined and compared contemporary approaches to Colonialism & Difficult Histories, in the British and German contexts.
Curated by Eric Otieno (social theorist and political economist from the University of Kassel, Germany) and Lord Woolley CBE (former chair of the advisory group for the UK’s Race Disparity Unit), this forum provided a platform for open discussion and debate on how colonialism and coloniality have shaped modern national trajectories, and how democratic societies might constructively confront ‘difficult histories’.
Explorations of the rise of nationalism and uneven citizenship intersected with conversations about the role of arts and the media in helping to rebalance power structures and interrogate narratives of our collective past. Artists, museum directors and post-colonial experts reflected, alongside policymakers and academics, on opportunities to confront contentious issues from the past more constructively, with an eye towards a more peaceful, open and inclusive future.
Discussions were held under the Chatham House Rule, as is the custom at Cumberland Lodge, to encourage frank and open discussions. Guest speakers were asked to waive the rule for their presentations where possible, to allow us to share their contributions with a wider audience, post-event.
Meet the speakers
Uncomfortable Art Tours, unofficial guided tours exploring how major institutions came into being against a backdrop of imperialism emerged from the podcast. She runs these regularly at six sites, exploring the role colonialism played in shaping and funding national collections, looking beyond the surface of paintings to unravel the ideological aesthetics at work. Alice’s academic work concentrates on the intersections of postcolonial art practice and colonial material culture, the curation of historical trauma, and myths of national identity.
She co-curated the internationally acclaimed exhibition ‘The Past is Now’ (2017-18) at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, ‘This is the Gallery and the Gallery is Many Things X’ at Eastside Projects (2018), Bald Black Girls (2019) and a solo exhibition by Olivia Twist at Ort Gallery (2020). Additionally, She contributed to the SAQI Books Anthology: The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write edited by Sabrina Mahfouz and was featured in Once Upon a Time in Birmingham: Women who Dared to Dream by Louise Palfreyman.
Since May 2020, Anna has been responsible for the project management of the five-year pilot project Dekoloniale Memory Culture in the City on behalf of the Initiative of Black People in Germany e.V.
Formerly Co-Chair of the Association of Performing Arts Collections, she advises the National Archives, BAFTA and the UK government’s Home Office, is a Group Board member at Notting Hill Genesis, and is a fellow of the Arts Council’s Museums and Resilient Leadership programme.
Visiting professorships and fellowships have taken her to France, the Netherlands, the United States and South Africa. As a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Institute for Advanced Study Berlin) she led a focus group on the subject of Family History and Social Change in West Africa (2017-2018). Her research interests include ethnicity, nationalism, colonialism, politics of remembrance, middle classes in the Global South and labour migration. She conducted field research first in South America and, since 1987, regularly in West Africa. Her publications include Land, Mobility and Belonging in West Africa (2013) and Remembering Independence (2018).
He is also an associate fellow at the Institute for German Studies at Birmingham University. He is the author of Utopia or Auschwitz. Germany’s 1968 Generation and the Holocaust (London/New York: Hurst/Columbia University Press, 2009) and The Paradox of German Power (London/New York: Hurst/Oxford University Press, 2014), which has been translated into German, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Spanish.
Kristin regularly collaborates with artists and activists, recently working with Dover Arts Development and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Through her interest in cultural policy Kristin secured a Cumberland Lodge Fellowship (2019-2021) to work at the intersection of academia, policy, and complex social challenges. In addition to her academic research, she has worked as a historical researcher and consultant in both the heritage and film sectors and produced films exploring the relationship between place, history and identity.
Among her publications are: Werner Scholem. A German Life (2018), Next Year in Marienbad. The Lost Worlds of Jewish Spa Culture (2012), and forthcoming, edited together with Nicolaus Schafhausen: Tell me about yesterday tomorrow.
He currently works in press and public relations at Each One Teach One e.V. (EOTO), a Black community-based education and empowerment organisation. Noah Anderson is also employed as a project manager in the In[ter]ventions department within the five-year pilot project Dekoloniale Memory Culture in the City.
In a research project at the Technical University of Darmstadt, Eberl and his colleagues examine how political thought has transformed its ‘look downwards’ amid social conflicts from colonial to social practices of degradation (www.demokratiekonflikte.de).
Before joining the LSE, she was Senior Lecturer in European and International Development Studies at the University of Portsmouth (2013-21, UK). Her research and teaching focuses on ways to decolonise (international) solidarity. Building on epistemic Blackness as methodology, she turns to recovering and reconnecting philosophies and practices of dignity and repair and retreat in the postcolony to theorise solidarity anticolonially.
In 2021, he became a member of the Brand New Bundestag core team, working on progressive campaigns during the German federal elections. In his free time, Samuel enjoys outdoor activities, live music and beer with foam on top.
In 2020, Varatharajah participated in the 11th Berlin Biennale for contemporary art with the installation ‘how to move an arche’. They also co-curated the event series ‘Dissolving Territories: Cultural Geographies of a New Eelam’ in Berlin. Between 2017-2018, Varatharajah was, among other things, an Open City Fellow and a Member of the European Commission’s inaugural European Migrant Advisory Board. Varatharajah's first book will be published next fall by Hanser Verlag.
Before, she was a research fellow in the Collaborative Research Center 700 "Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood" and at the East Asia Seminar of Freie Universität Berlin. She studied Chinese Studies, Sociology and Gender Studies in Hamburg, Beijing and Bristol (UK) with a focus on gender, migration and intersectionality and spent several research stays in Singapore as well as China. She has recently curated the exhibition "Hey Hamburg, do you know Duala Manga Bell?".
She is an inaugural Arts Council England Changemaker and former inaugural Co-Chair of What Next? She is a Churchill Fellow, a Fellow of the RSA and DEMOS, and an Achates brand ambassador. She is currently a visiting Research Associate and guest lecturer at King’s College London.