Launch: A Postcolonial Audio Guide for Potsdam


2020, Potsdam


The initiative Postcolonial Potsdam just launched a web app that takes you on a postcolonial walking tour in Potsdam. Two former fellows of the RTG, Anna von Rath and Yann Le Gall, coordinated the project.

You can use this app to take a guided walk through Potsdam’s Sanssouci Park and the city center. The app shows you various stations, which are connected to German colonial history. At these stations, you can listen to informative clips either in German or in English. The App is free and you can find it here: map.postcolonialpotsdam.org

For the audio guide, the group searched for traces of colonialism in Potsdam. Statues, buildings, paintings and plants point to colonial entanglements when you look closely. The rotary of the Oranges in Sanssouci Park, for example, reveals connections between Prussia and the Netherlands. This friendship symbolizes the beginning of colonial trade. With the help of Dutch friends, Brandenburg established a trading base on the coast of present-day Ghana in 1682. From there they sold Africans to the Caribbean. Few know that Germany was involved in the transatlantic slave trade.

At the New Palace, Postcolonial Potsdam tackles the story of the “Peak of the Kilimanjaro Mountain” and how it came to Germany. In 1890, the enthusiastic mountaineer Hans Meyer gave a little rock, which he had collected on top of the Kilimanjaro, to the German Emperor Wilhelm II. The rock symbolizes German rule over East Africa. The rock (or at least a replacement rock) is still on display in the New Palace in Potsdam.

The postcolonial audio guide does not only address colonialism on the African continent. From 1898 until the beginning of World War I, Kiaotschou in China was considered a German colony. Between 1901 and 1919 astronomical instruments from China were exhibited at the Orangery in Potsdam. The German military had taken them after the so-called “Boxer War” during the plunder of Beijing.
The app helps to understand that colonial history is relevant for the present. At the rotary with Black statues, so-called M*word-rotary, the audio guide refers to contemporary debates of renaming streets and squares. Postcolonial Potsdam advocates for the disappearance of racist terminology in the urban landscape.

Many people have been involved in the development of this app.
Anna von Rath and Yann LeGall managed the project with the help of the entire team of Postcolonial Potsdam – Elisabeth Nechutnys, Lina Fricke and Kaja Schröter. Next to the research done by members of Postcolonial Potsdam, content for the app was produced by Fabienne Imlinger, Lillian Dam Bracia, Nouria Asfaha, Naomie Gramlich, Stefan Theilig, and Mnyaka Sururu Mboro. Additionally, Oduor Obura, Jessica de Abreu, Mnyaka Sururu Mboro, Angelo Camufingo, Farai von Pentz and Sonja Vurande comment on colonial traces in interviews. They offer suggestions for better ways of dealing with colonial legacies. The voices of the podcasts are those of Dela Dabulamanzi, Sharon Dodua Otoo, Musa Okwonga and Asad Schwarz-Msesilamba. Ulf Treger has been responsible for the design and development of the app. The project has been funded by the Research Training Group Minor Cosmopolitanisms of the University of Potsdam. Judith Coffey supported the administrative process.

Picture of Park with Text Postcolonial Potsdam Auio Guide and App
Photo: poco lit