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Restitution of dignity? Human remains - Colonialism - Humanity

At the centre of the research project is the problem of dealing with the dehumanising dimensions of colonialism and their effects on scientific practice to this day.

Using Human Remains from the "Alexander Ecker Collection" in the University Archive of the University of Freiburg, the question of human dignity - its violation and possibilities for its restoration - will be explored in a doubly fractured setting: In a cinematographic real laboratory, the philosopher Prof. Dr. Nadja Germann from the University of Freiburg and the Germanist Prof. Dr. Albert Gouaffo from the University of Dschang, Cameroon, will meet to (1) reflect on the concept of dignity in an ongoing dialogue based on the Human Remains "collected" and used for scientific purposes. This transcultural process is about the concept itself - what is dignity: an abstract idea or something material, embodied in flesh, bones, history? - as well as the implications this has for scientific practice and politics.

This dialogue is observed (2) in multimodal form by the media ethnologist Dr. Balz Andrea Alter, recorded (audio and visual material) and presented to the two dialogue partners at regular intervals. They thus become both subjects and objects, researchers and informants. In this way, a twofold process of reflection is to be initiated and documented at the same time: on the dehumanising dimensions of colonialism from a transcultural and transdisciplinary perspective as well as the blind spots of the participating researchers themselves.

Prof. Dr. Albert Gouaffo is Professor of German Literature and Cultural Studies and Intercultural Communication at the University of Dschang/Cameroon, Prof. Dr. Nadja Germann is Professor of Arabic and Transcultural Philosophy at the University of Freiburg. Dr. Balz Andrea Alter is a member of staff at the Africa Centre for Transregional Research (ACT) at the University of Freiburg and the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute (ABI).


Project participants

Dr. Balz Andrea Alter

Prof. Dr. Nadja Germann

Prof. Dr. Albert Gouaffo