Jan Dammel

Doctoral Fellow


Campus am Neuen Palais
Am Neuen Palais 10
Building 1, Room 0.15
14469 Potsdam


consulting hours
by appointment only

Dissertation Project

Theatre and German Colonialism: Tanzanian-German Entanglements

The research project seeks to investigate a number of significant constellations that have emerged since the late 19th century between theatre and colonialism in the context of German colonialism in Africa, by looking namely at entangled histories between Germany and Tanzania, which together with Ruanda, Burundi, parts of northern Mozambique and without Zanzibar was colonized as 'German East Africa‘.

Research questions include: Which constellations between theatre and colonialism have been prevalent since the 1890s in the history of German colonialism with regards to Tanzania?  What kind of performances did occur in the everyday life both in German East Africa and in Tanganyika (administered by the British from 1916 to 1961)? How did Tanzanian theatre between the late 1960s and mid-1970s affirm anti-colonial resistance against the Germans? How have theatre makers and activists in Dar es Salaam and Berlin addressed Tanzanian-German colonial/postcolonial entanglements through performance since 2005? The theoretical approach is to investigate these theatre practices in the context of Tanzanian-German entangled histories by conceptualizing theatre as a site of both complicity and resistance.



I studied Theatre and Performance Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin, l’Université Lille III and the Universiteit van Amsterdam, graduating in 2016 with an M.A. in Theatre Studies.

Between 2017 and 2020, I have supported activities by Berlin Postkolonial as a volunteer, such as events, conferences and archival research on acts of anti-colonial resistance by citizens of former “German East Africa” residing in Berlin. I am also an event organizer with ten years of experience in organizing events in varying roles with and for different groups, organizations and institutions. In 2019, I joined the RTG Minor Cosmopolitanisms.

Research Interests

  • Postcolonial Studies                 
  • Tanzanian Theatre History
  • History of Theatre Studies
  • Theatre and (Anti-)Racism
  • Artistic Practices between Visual and Performing Arts


Conceptualized and Organized Events

Film Preview from Tanzania by Vicensia Shule and Navigating Academia, Art, Activism and Business in and beyond Tanzania. A Conversation with Vicensia Shule (moderation: Layla Zami), November 12th, 2022, as part of Minor Cosmopolitan Assembly, 10-12 November, 2022, Silent Green Berlin 

Detours – Approaches to Doing Decolonial Work During a Pandemic; a roaming workshop series with Jewish Museum Berlin, Floating University Berlin and xart splitta, September and October 2021, organized together with Yael Attia, Sofia Apostolidou, Anne Mikkelsen, Kathleen Samson and Johanna Heide

Embodied Practices - Looking From Small Places - an online event with Sruti Bala and Dylan Kerrigan, November 19 2020, conceptualized and organized together with Tori Sinanan, Johanna Heide. Access the edited transcript, published in June 2021 with Potsdam University Press, on the Minor Constellations blog.

Event management for several events for BDP, amongst them Tag der Psychologie 2018 (Lecture, panel discussion and barcamp).

Panel discussion on decolonial student movements, Humboldt-University Berlin, September 2017.

Symposium How To Dance with Art, Foreign Affairs Festival, Berliner Festspiele, July 2014.

Install & perform, theatre-based arts education workshop and presentation, conceptualized and organized with Priska Janssens, Nassauischer Kunstverein Wiesbaden, April 2013.

Organizational Support

“Restorative Justice after Genocide – Non-Governmental Congress on the Ovaherero and Nama Genocides, 1904-1908”, organized by Berlin Postkolonial and Alliance No Amnesty on Genocide, Berlin, October 2016.

Anti-racist training by Phoenix e.V. for students in theatre studies and theatre education, co-organized with Sabine Kuhn, Berlin, January 2018.

International Symposium-Festival Moving Memory. Erinnerung in Bewegung, curated by Dr. Layla Zami and Oxana Chi, Technical University Berlin, October 2016.

Interdisciplinary symposium “Arts of Standstill”, curated by Prof. Dr. Barbara Gronau, Sophiensaele Berlin, June 5-6 2015.

Performatik festival, curated by Katleen van Langendonck, Kaaitheater Brussels, March 2015.

Internationales Forum, two-week workshop program as part of Theatertreffen, Berliner Festspiele, May 2009, 2010, 2011.

Conference Papers

“Performing Anti-Colonial Resistance: Tanzanian Post-Independence Theatre Practice” as part of Panel: “Decolonization as Theater - Decentering and Disrupting Colonial Spaces and Narratives”, organized by Markus Hallensleben; 28th International Conference of Europeanists, ISCTE Lisbon, June 30, 2022.


„Theatre’s Complicity. The Case of British Colonial Theatre in Tanzania”, Symposium UNDOING MASTERY in Science and Practice, Free University Berlin, February 25, 2022


"Negotiating Positions: Performance Analysis as a Collaborative Practice", THE YES CONFERENCE, Justus-Liebig-University, Gießen, February 13, 2016.


“Aktion im Kasten, Aktion mit dem Kasten’. Zu Peter Weibels tele-aktionen.“, Conference “Kunst (im) Fernsehen: Akteure, Formate und Rahmungen von Fernsehperformances”, Free University Berlin, September 06 –07, 2014.


Bala, Sruti and Dylan Kerrigan. “Embodied Practices - Looking from Small Places.” Minor Constellations in Conversation Lecture Series, edited by Johanna Heide, Universitätsverlag Potsdam, 2021, pp. 1-11. https://doi.org/10.25932/publishup-50899 (co-conceiver/co-organizer of event and proofreader of transcript).

Dammel, Jan, Sebastian Brünger and Sandra Umathum: “Global und ortsspezifisch? Zu Mobilität und Zuschauen bei Rimini Protokoll.“ Arbeitsweisen im Gegenwartstheater, edited by Beate Hochholdinger-Reiterer et al., Alexander Verlag Berlin, 2015, pp. 82-88.



Contributing panelist to discussion forum: „Theaterwissenschaft intersektional. Online-Forum für gemeinsame Diskussion und Strategieentwicklung zu einer macht- und rassismuskritischen Theaterwissenschaft“, September 29th, 2022; Conference of German Theatre Studies Association GTW, FU Berlin

Episode 5 of Podcast Minor Constellations (curated by Yael Attia and Kathleen Samson), “PerforMemory: In Conversation with Dr. Layla Zami and Jan Dammel”, October 2021.

Participant of PSi Summer School #4.33 Attentions and Attunements, organized by Performance Studies international Future Advisory Board, July-October 2021.