Postcolonial Hierarchies

by Priya Basil, Susanne Buckley-Zisten & Teresa Koloma Beck



In this interview, Priya Basil—London-born author of fiction and essays who now lives in Berlin—reflects on colonial continuities and ruptures of Germany’s memoryscape. Taking the Humboldt Forum at the newly reconstructed Berlin Palace that houses Berlin’s ethnographic collections as a starting point, she talks about how the memory of the Holocaust and of colonial crimes committed by Germans connect yet also differ, what messages buildings such as the Berlin Palace communicate to visitors, whose voices are heard and silenced in the Humboldt Forum, and how this relates to some form of post-colonial justice—or not. She advocates for digging down into the provenance of objects in museums and exhibitions to unearth the dark histories that have led to their presence in Germany yet also in other former colonizing countries. To circumvent the master narrative of a collection, she argues it is paramount to let the objects “talk back” and to listen to their stories as opposed to the stories of the collectors and exhibitors.


Basli, P. Buckley-Zistel, S., & Koloma Beck, T. (2022). On remembering, unlearning, and creating new stories: An interview with Priya Basil conducted by Susanne Buckley-Zistel and Teresa Koloma Beck. Zeitschrift für Friedens-und Konfliktforschung, 11(2).