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

Modules for History Lessons

Edited By 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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Making Sense of Postcolonial Theories and Applying them to the Relationship between Eastern and Western Europe


Introduction to the Module

This module aims at understanding the core elements of the theories developed by Nicolaj S. Trubetzkoy (1890–1938) and Dipesh Chakrabarty (born 1948).

In contemporary history textbooks, colonialism is merely described in terms of power and exploitation systems, which will be easily comprehensible to students of upper secondary level. Nonetheless, the thesis of Postcolonial Studies, namely that this power system is based on a specific (Eurocentric) view of the world on the part of the colonizers, is rarely dealt with in history textbooks and history education. This aspect of colonialism will be new for many students. Even more profitable will be the question of whether this view of the world has changed in contemporary times. For this reason, dealing with Trubetzkoy’s remarks holds enormous didactic potential.

Intensively examining both theoretical approaches (Trubetzkoy and Chakrabarty) will firstly enable the students to gain a deeper understanding of the long-standing, worldwide consequences of colonialism and, secondly, this will enable them to question self-critically their own view of the world as well as to notice rash political strategies in international affairs.

Both theoretical texts are supplemented by a source text. The selected source is a good example for the strong relation between the categories “power” and “knowledge”.


Source 1: Extract from “Europe and Mankind” by Nicolaj S. Trubetzkoy, 1922

Nikolaj S. Trubetzkoy (1922): Europa und die Menschheit [Europe and Mankind], quoted from: Fedor...

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