Cite as: Regina Römhild, Introduction to the keynote Ann L. Stoler, ‘Imperial Debris and Why it Matters Now’, part of the conference Wir sind alle Berliner Part I, ICI Berlin, 17 February 2015, video recording, mp4, 05:47 <>
17 Feb 2015


By Regina Römhild

Video in English

Format: mp4
Length: 00:05:47
First published on:
Rights: © ICI Berlin

Part of the Conference

Wir sind alle Berliner Part I: 1884-2014. Programme in Commemoration of the Berlin Conference / Simon Njami, Ann L. Stoler

The discursive programme WIR SIND ALLE BERLINER: 1884-2014 commemorates 130 years of the Berlin Conference and proposes a space for deliberation on the repercussions of this crucial event, offering thereby an occasion to analyse the ideological, economic, political, and humanitarian justifications that underlay colonialism and still frame the asymmetric relations between the West and the non-West today.

Keynote Lectures by Simon Njami and Ann L. Stoler

18:00 Simon Njami: In the Heart of the Lights

Simon Njami – curator of the exhibition WIR SIND ALLE BERLINER: 1884-2014 at SAVVY Contemporary – will deliberate on the concept of the exhibition and the role and importance of artistic and cultural interventions in the context of shifting historical discourses and investigating politics of memory.

Simon Njami is a writer and an independent curator, lecturer, art critic and essayist. He curated many international exhibitions, being among the first ones to think and show African contemporary artists’ work on international stages. He curated Africa Remix (2004-07 in Düsseldorf, London, Paris, Tokyo, Johannesburg) and co-curated the first African Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale. His exhibition The Divine Comedy – Heaven, Hell, Purgatory by Contemporary African Artists is currently touring after stations in Frankfurt a.M. and Savannah (USA) to Washington D.C and Lisbon. Njami is the co-founder of Revue Noire, a journal of contemporary African and extra-occidental art. His latest book publication is a biography of Léopold Sédar Senghor.

19:00 Ann L. Stoler: Imperial Debris and Why it Matters Now

Ann Stoler’s keynote lecture will set the framework of the discursive programme by redirecting the attention of critical engagement with colonial aftermaths towards the “less dramatic durabilities of duress” , the less visible and perceptible repercussions of imperial dispositions and the complex ways in which they shape not only the material but also the psychic space in which we live today. Stoler’s shift of focus from “left over” relics (ruins) as evidence of the past to what we are “left with” – the ongoing process of ruination through which imperial power occupies the present – allows for an account of those subtle durabilities. She challenges established assumptions about the way colonial pasts and colonial presents relate to each other, about the remnants of empire that do not only persist, but also continue to be reanimated.

Stoler’s lecture will take place against the backdrop of a Germany – and a Europe – that is experiencing protests and attacks against foreigners of an unforeseen magnitude and a sharpening of public anti-foreigner rhetoric. It will provide a crucial starting point to reflect upon the complexity of colonial presents and a basis to rethink contemporary socio-political developments in order to shift them.

Ann L. Stoler is the Willy Brandt Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies at the New School for Social Research.


ICI Berlin
(Click for further documentation)


Simon Njami
Ann L. Stoler

Organized by

Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung
Elena Agudio
Anna Jäger
Saskia Köbschall
A Project by SAVVY Contemporary in cooperation with the ICI Berlin and the Institute for European Ethnology at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin