Frankfurt Research Center for Postcolonial Studies

Colonial rule and expansion is an efficacious event in the histories of both the global North and the global South leaving a distinct mark on current scholarship, culture, philosophy, literature as well as the economy, politics, law and society. In the past three decades Postcolonial Studies has emerged as a trans-disciplinary research field, which has provided the impetus for important critical interventions within numerous academic disciplines – from Literary and Cultural Studies, History, Sociology, Ethnology and Political Science to Philosophy. Other trans-disciplinary research areas, such as Gender Studies, can no longer be imagined without recourse to postcolonial approaches.

Postcolonial Studies aims to explore the legacies and consequences of European colonialism in its various aspects – literal, figurative, spatial, historical, political and economic. In so doing, the specific focus is never placed on particular countries, regions or even disciplines, but rather the aim is to bring to the forefront past and current interdependences and entanglements in a trans-disciplinary perspective. That which is often referred to as “modern Europe” is read as an outcome of colonial interaction, even as (former) colonies are understood as “laboratories of modernity”. As an influential body of theory, Postcolonial Studies includes analyses of the political, economic and cultural developments in the global South as well the examination of the above-mentioned entanglements with the global North. Furthermore, the strategies of justification of various colonial and neocolonial discourses are also investigated, so that the normative violence, which is exerted in the name of rationality, progress and development, may be critiqued.

Postcolonial Studies is an attempt to reconstruct the effects of Western imperialism, which are at play up to the present day. However, the field also aims to document how precarious and contested these power formations have been, so that the postcolonial constellations can be grasped in their complex and contradictory nature. In the various areas of scholarship it attempts to show the sustained and ambivalent effects of colonial power structures on knowledge production. Postcolonial Studies intends to deconstruct the Eurocentrism that underlies a large part of theory-building in the West. However, it not only challenges Eurocentric claims of universality, but also the complementary assertions of global particularism and cultural relativism.

A postcolonial perspective has also proven to be indispensable for an analysis of political practice and norms. In today’s times global dimensions of social inequalities have to be taken into account. On account of our entangled histories and futures, it is insufficient to seek to address political responsibility only within national borders. Postcolonial theorists have established that it is impossible to write a history of the West without taking into account the histories of the colonies and vice versa. Despite multiple attempts to comprehend global power constellations from a multidimensional perspective − owing to the relatively short German colonial period − critical approaches in German-speaking academia have often neglected to consider the colonial context within which transnational problems and conflicts originated. As a result, in contrast to Anglo-American academia, postcolonial perspectives have for a long time only been per- and received as marginal. The current interest in postcolonial theory in German-speaking countries has now led to a formerly neglected research area receiving attention, contributing to an expansion of critical theory-building and its institutionalization.
Within the German-speaking academic discourse the Frankfurt Research Center for Postcolonial Studies (FRCPS) aims to provide a platform for postcolonial theory in general and feminist-postcolonial theory in particular. The first of its kind in the German Social Sciences landscape, the trans-disciplinary research center intends to promote postcolonial perspectives with a Social Science focus, to further consolidate Postcolonial Studies within Germany, even as it seeks to set new trends within postcolonial theory production itself. The Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders” as well as the Goethe-University Frankfurt, where the FRCPS is located, will visibly be able to distinguish themselves in an influential research area.
The FRCPS researches postcolonial constellations and conflicts in all their complexity. In comparison to other Postcolonial Studies institutes, FRCPS does not only emphasize cultural politics and hybridization processes, but also places an equally strong emphasis on questions of decolonization and democratization in the postcolonial contexts of developing socio-economic and political areas. Investigating the conceptual and cultural flows between the “South” and the “North” also always brings with it recognizing violent and socio-economic exploitation as a defining moment of colonialism. The intermingling of diverse normative orders and their multifaceted impact marks an important point of departure for theory-building and critical intervention. The analyses of different types of norms – juridical, moral or social – and their interaction in different contexts of domination, for instance in regulating gender and sexuality, is indispensable in understanding how colonial justification narratives such as the mission civilisatrice operate. On the other hand, the FRCPS addresses the critical impetus of norms – such as equality, liberty and justice – which anti-colonial liberation movements have historically employed to challenge colonial rule and which have been mobilized by women’s movements globally in support of their emancipatory claims. By framing gender relations as normative orders, the FRCPS strives to integrate a perspective critical of heteronormativity, which raises important questions such as: How are gender relations and sexualities in postcolonial contexts structured? How can gendered structures be deconstructed? And how do global labor and production processes effect gender relations both within as well as between the “North” and the “South“?

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Headlines

Rainer Forst zu Corresponding Fellow der British Academy gewählt

Wie die British Academy am 24. Juli bekannt gab, wurde Prof. Rainer Forst als Corresponding Fellow aufgenommen. Jährlich wählt die British Academy herausragende Gelehrte und Wissenschaftler*innen, die sich auf dem Gebiet der Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften international verdient gemacht haben zu Corresponding Fellows. Mehr...

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Upcoming Events

8. September 2020, 19.30 Uhr

DenkArt „Der normalisierte Ausnahmezustand“: Prof. Wilhelm Heitmeyer: „Autoritäre Bedrohungen oder liberale Demokratie?“ – Die offene Gesellschaft im Ausnahmezustand. Mehr...

10. September 2020, 12.30 Uhr

Online Book lɔ:ntʃ: Prof. Dr. Dr. Günter Frankenberg: Autoritarismus - Verfassungstheoretische Perspektiven (Suhrkamp 2020). Mehr...

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Latest Media

Normative Orders Insights

... with Franziska Fay

Normative Orders Insights

... with Rainer Forst

New full-text Publications

Burchard, Christoph (2019):

Künstliche Intelligenz als Ende des Strafrechts? Zur algorithmischen Transformation der Gesellschaft. Normative Orders Working Paper 02/2019. More...

Kettemann, Matthias (2020):

The Normative Order of the Internet. Normative Orders Working Paper 01/2020. More...