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Saskia Köbschall

Doctoral Fellow


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


consulting hours
by consultation only

Dissertation Project

GERMAN, NATURAL, NAKED? The Colonial Entanglements of the Life Reform

 Taking the history of the naturist/nudist movement in Germany as a starting point, I explore the work of imperial legacies in the production of the legitimate white German body. Nudism, known as FKK (free-body-culture) today, emerged at the turn of the 19th century as part of the Lebensreform (Life Reform), an umbrella term for a variety of movements that were calling for a ‘return to nature’ and a ‘liberation from the constraints of civilization’. It incorporated a wide range of diverse but interrelated beliefs, political and social agendas, from the folkish-nationalist right, to the socialist left, from the cult of light and air, the practice of nudism, the garden city movement, vegetarianism to yoga.

 My PhD research takes the formation of the white body within the movement as a vantage point to reflect on the complex ways in which the discourse of colonialism and the emergence of the nudist movement overlap not only in timing and protagonists, but also in terms of how they conceived of the relationship between body, nature and 'civilization’. Despite these entanglements and the movement’s well researched influence on National Socialism, the coloniality of the Life Reform has remained an academic blindspot.


Saskia Köbschall is a Berlin-born curator, scholar, and editor with a focus on de-colonial narratives. She completed her graduate studies as a Fulbright scholar at the New School for Social Research anthropology department in NYC, where she also taught at the Parsons School of Design. From 2011 to 2018 she was the manager and curatorial team member of S A V V Y Contemporary. She is the co-editor of “I Will Draw a Map of What You Never See: Endeavours in Rhythmanalysis” (Berlin: Archive Books), the “intertwining hi/stories of arts education” issue of the e-journal Art Education Research (2019, ZHdK), as well as a recipient of the Recherchestipendium Bildende Kunst des Berliner Senats 2018. Since 2019 she is a PhD candidate at RTG Minor Cosmopolitanisms, where she researches the colonial-racist origins of the nudist movement.

Research Interests

  •  Modernity
  •  Embodiment
  •  Critical Race Theory
  •  Decolonial Studies
  •  Critical Whiteness


2019    Agudio, Elena; Jäger, Anna; Köbschall, Saskia; Ndikung, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng  (Eds., 2019): I Will Draw a Map of What You Never See: Endeavours in Rhythmanalysis; Berlin: Archive Books

2019    Köbschall, Saskia (2019): In the Spirit of Akwa: Radical Legacies; In: Agudio; Jäger; Köbschall; Ndikung (Eds., 2019): I Will Draw a Map of What You Never See: Endeavours in Rhythmanalysis; Berlin: Archive Books

2019    Köbschall, Saskia (2019): GERMAN, NATURAL AND NAKED? The Colonial Entanglements of the Life Reform, in: Art Education Research, N. 15, Zurich University of the Arts Link to the journal article

2018    Editor and translator of the eJournal „interwining hi/stories of arts education“ (Art Education Research, N. 15, Zurich University of the Arts, Eds.: Carmen Mörsch, Saskia Köbschall

Conference Papers

“R E D  H A T  B L U E S: On Colonial Conscripts, Music Restitution and Sounds of De-Contamination“ at the symposium “UN/SOUNDING GENDER” (HU Berlin), 8 June 2018

"You, My Dark Brothers, No one Calls Your Names": On the Sounds of the Past and the Politics of Artistic-anthropological Entanglements, at RAI2018: Art, Materiality and Representation conference (Panel: The Future of Anthropological Representation: Contemporary Art and/in the Ethnographic Museum)