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Colonialism and Decolonization in National Historical Cultures and Memory Politics in Europe

Modules for History Lessons

Uta Fenske, Daniel Groth, Klaus-Michael Guse and Bärbel P. Kuhn

Colonialism and decolonization are historical phenomena that are part of the historical experience of many European countries. This volume offers students and teachers a new understanding of how colonialism and decolonization fit into our shared European past and contains teaching materials for history classes in European schools. The contributions have been produced by the EU project CoDec, involving partners from Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Great Britain, Austria, Poland and Switzerland. Analyzing colonial pasts, processes of decolonization and memory politics in different European countries from comparative and transnational perspectives, the study presents useful sources and practical suggestions for cutting-edge history lessons in European schools.
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Potatoes, Coffee and Sugar – The Foreign from “Overseas” Changes Europe.


Reinhard Wendt

Potatoes, Coffee and Sugar – The Foreign from “Overseas” Changes Europe

Introduction to the Modules

The European expansion changed the world. It was a two-way process, with a dynamic movement directed from Europe outwards, as well as a second flow streaming inwards. The emanating dimension of effect was inseparable from the one which was aimed at Europe and made it an object of influences from the overseas world. These repercussions significantly contributed to giving Europe the shape it has today. They initiated a process that gradually transformed the continent. Influences from overseas became more and more strongly and inseparably fixed in European ways of life. What formerly used to be strange and exotic successively developed into elements of everyday culture and, not seldom, even into significant characteristics of local, regional and national identity.

In the following, this change is traced and illustrated by a schema comprising eight stages. These did not always continually follow one another but sometimes took place parallel. The schema is divided into three categories: material, animate and immaterial. The category “material” includes wares which can be subsumed under the term “colonial goods” and further divided – even if not clearly distinctively – into foodstuffs, spices, hot and stimulating beverages as well as tobacco; into plant, animal and mineral resources like medicinal substances, fibres, paints, varnishes, resins, woods, ivory and ores; and finally also into finished products such as luxury goods, artefacts or exotic items. These are what the following...

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