Anti-Colonialism in Berlin at the Time of the Weimar Republic

Kuck, Nathanel

Between the end of World War I and 1933, Berlin attracted anti-colonial activists from the colonial world. Particularly students and intellectuals were involved in parties, associations or university groups; fighting for the independence of their respective countries and against the imperial post-war world order. This active engagement was expressed in a lively journalistic debate on the colonial question and in the numerous connections to political groups from the context of Comintern. The theorization of concepts such as ‘imperialism’ and ‘the nation’, which took place within the framework of metropolitan anti-colonialism, had an important impact on the process of decolonization in the following decades. This dissertation project aims firstly at tracing the anti-colonial networks and discourses by using the European metropolis Berlin as an example. Secondly, it should contribute to the expansion of knowledge on anti-colonial struggles prior to World War II and thereby, thirdly, locate them at the intersection of a deterritorializing globalization and the demand for territorial sovereignty. Unlike most previous studies on anti-colonial movements, this project does not focus on separate national independence movements, but seeks to comprehend anti-colonialism as a coherent political field determined by the organizational and intellectual exchange between the different actors involved. The League against Imperialism and for National Independence, the most important organization for the cooperation of different anti-colonial movements during the interwar period, had its headquarters in Berlin. Until now, the focus has been on the evaluation of secondary literature and on the collection and analysis of primary sources. It was found that the framework of anti-colonial practices led to the formation of different political alliances. Important attempts at organization took place in the context of the internationally oriented Comintern, but there were also connections to state authorities and conservatives, particularly among Indian and Arab activists. The supervisor of the PhD project by Nathanel Kuck is Matthias Middell. The project is funded as part of the German Research Foundation Research Training Group (GK 1261): “Critical Junctures of Globalization” and will be continued in 2011.