The exhibition “The Dead, as far as [ ] can remember” dealt with colonial violence and anti-colonial resistance – researched, elaborated and staged by activists, scientists, artists, museum staff and divided into four chapters:

Mangi Meli Remains

Chief Mangi Meli was a resistance fighter against German colonial rule in what is now Tanzania and was executed there in 1900. His head is said to have been brought to the collection of the Museum of Ethnology in Berlin – until today there is no trace of him. Unlike Mangi Meli himself, who is present in songs, stories and archives in small traces. These are brought together as a video sculpture and animated film – to tell possible stories of his life, his violent death, and the subsequent carrying off of his head.

Dead Images

The exhibition chapter reflects on the “ethical, scientific, and political implications” of two collections in the Anthropological Department of the Natural History Museum Vienna – consisting of over 40,000 skulls and some 50,000 anthropological photographs. And in the process also engages with so-called “anthropometry,” a scientific practice of body measurement that is closely entangled with the colonial agenda of racializing, hierarchizing, and categorizing people.

Breaking the Silence I – The Wrath of Mdachi bin Sharifu

The room designed by the association “Berlin Postkolonial” deals with the long cherished myth of the loyalty of the colonized to the German Empire. It portrays the work of Mdachi bin Sharifu, a black decolonial activist who as early as 1919 had called in public speeches for a critical examination of the colonial past of the German Empire.

Just listen -voices on the politics of remembrance and German colonial history

The cooperation project between leftvision, Berlin Postcolonial and students of Freie Universität Berlin puts the perspectives of people affected by racism in the foreground of their discussion. The interviews exhibited here are about the violent continuities of colonial racist forms of power and domination as well as possible forms of a common coming to terms with German colonial rule.



“The Dead, as far as [ ] can remember” was on view from Nov. 09, 2018, to Jan. 19, 2019, at the Tieranatomisches Theater at Humboldt University in Berlin. For a more in-depth discussion of the exhibition, as well as its placement in current debates about restitution and decolonization in the context of “museums,” see, for example, the article“Curating Relationships Collaboratively – From Intertwined Objects to Intertwined Subjects.” published on the blog “What next for Humboldt’s legacy? Rethinking Ethnological Collections.”

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