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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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Inner-European Colonialism: An Introduction


Usually the history of colonialism focuses on overseas relations among European empires as well as their attitudes towards the spatially remote territories with allegedly racially distinct populations. Only for the last several years has historical research (in particular “New Imperial History”) started to treat the history of (not only European) empires and of colonialism in a more inclusive manner, thus underlining the entanglements and similarities of imperial and colonial domination outside and within Europe.1 In an inner-European context such a perspective seems to be particularly appropriate for the areas of Central and Eastern Europe since for centuries they were ruled by vast continental empires, namely the Habsburg, Ottoman, Russian and Prussian empires and also, from 1871 onwards, the German Empire which can be regarded as an empire only to a limited extent. However, it ruled large regions with non-German-speaking majorities after the partitions of Poland. Although imperial domination ended with the breakdown of all of these empires during or after World War I, imperial legacies loomed large in European history; occasionally, older traditions of imperial domination acquired new forms, as was the case with the short-lived but extremely radical expansion of the “Third Reich” during World War II or with Soviet hegemony over Central and Eastern Europe until 1989/1991.2 In recent years, historiography has been discussing whether these imperial laminations which involved hierarchies of domination, i.e. processes of political and cultural oppression and economic exploitation, could also be investigated as phenomena of colonialism. Although researchers are very careful...

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