freedom roads! colonial street names . postcolonial cultures of remembrance


Touring Exhibition
freedom roads!
colonial street names| postcolonial cultures of remembrance
History, Arts and Participation
Exhibition preview
August 13 - Septamber 22, 2013
Exhibition opening: Monday, August 12, 2013
Kunsthaus Hamburg, Klosterwall 15, Hamburg, Germany
Opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday 11 - 18 h
October 25, 2013 - February 23, 2014
Exhibition opening: Thursday, October 24, 2013
Münchner Stadtmuseum, St.-Jakobs-Platz 1, Munich, Germany
Opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday 10 - 18 h
Inaugural Exhibition
August 28 - October 3, 2010
Gallery Kurt-Schumacher-Haus. August Bebel Institut, Berlin-Wedding, Germany
Please undersign the Resolution for a fundamental change in dealing with Germany's colonial heritage!
Debate Forum

Where do we find ourselves?
How do we perceive the global and the local in urban space?
How do we deal with vestiges of the colonial past?
With history, stories and myths?
With prestige, profit and economic power coming from
slave trade, forced labour and colonial robbery?

The impetus for the touring exhibition freedom roads! came from the years 2010 - 2012 which are of special interest for postcolonial cultures of remembrance focusing on German and European colonial history:

  • 125 years ago, in 1884-1885, the infamous Berlin Africa Conference took place, a key event which resulted in the doubtful 'Scramble for Africa' and in the arbitrary annexation of the African continent by the Great Powers as well as in Germany's entry into colonial politics
  • 50 years ago, in the 'African Year' 1960, 17 African countries, among them the former German colonies Cameroon and Togo, declared their independence. They will be celebrating anniversary events in 2010. In 2011 commemoration jubilees will take place in Tanzania (former 'German East Africa'). Namibia, once the colony 'German Southwest Africa' gained its independence twenty years ago.


Ghana celebrates its 50th independence anniversary on March 8th, 2007 (photo left below: Moritz Homann)
On November 15th 2009, numerous NGOs commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Berlin Africa Conference and the victims of colonialism.

Vestiges of the colonial past are deeply engraved in the European urban landscapes. Even today, street names commemorate conquered countries and honour colonial stakeholders. Recently a growing number of NGOs has been critically researching the origins of the colonial street names in their cities. At the 125th anniversary of the Berlin Africa Conference in 2009/2010, a nationwide network of more than 70 NGOs, churches, educational institutions, trade unions and parties called for the "removal of street names honouring colonial protagonists or including racist connotations" and suggested to give them "names of leading African personalities who have fought in anticolonial resistance movements". The new names should always commemorate the context of and relate to the colonial history. more >

Renaming streets with new historical views in Munich (2006) and Berlin (2009/2010)
(Photos: Rolf-Henning Hintze, Joachim Zeller)
In Berlin numerous organisations and prominent persons, historians, artists and politicians stand up for decolonising urban space, for critical contextualisations of street names and - in some cases - for their renaming. Meanwhile, the Social Democratic Party, governing in the district Berlin-Mitte, has passed a resolution for "an extensive commemoration concept" in the so-called 'Afrikanisches Viertel' ('African Quarter'). The three street names - Lüderitzstraße. Nachtigalplatz and Petersallee - still honouring founders and protagonists of the German colonisation, shall be renamed after African personalities, especially women, who have been active in anti-colonial resistance movements.

History, Arts and Participation
The participative exhibition freedom roads! colonial street names / postcolonial cultures of remembrance picks up the current debate. The project remembers the long-winded way Ghana and the former German colonies had to go from colonisation through resistance to independence.
The touring exhibition freedom roads!

  • quests chances of transcultural commemoration, participates in the public debate and cooperates with international networks.
  • critically focuses on German colonial protagonists - be they ruthless slave traders, fraudulent 'founders' of the German colonies or violent warriors. The project points out that the so-called 'colonial heroes' are still being honoured with street names. Increasingly their privilege to be commemorated in urban space is being challenged.
  • relates colonial history to continous active and passive resistance movements in which women in Africa played a central role.
  • provides information about personalities of African history - both victims of colonial injustice and protagonists in anti-colonial resistance - and suggests them as alternative street name givers.
  • invites African, African-German and German authors and artists to participate.
  • documents activities of local street name initatives.
  • invites to a multi-faceted program: creative workshops, lectures and guided tours.
  • interviews partners from African countries now living in Germany and asks what they remember, especially about the times of rebellion and resistance and the days during the independence celebrations.
  • cooperates with neighbours, school classes, African and African-German communities.

Everyone interested is cordially invited to participate in freedom roads! You are very welcome to:

  • create small objects for the exhibition (a small, self-made symbol or sculpture, photo, drawing or everyday object) > contact: art [at] freedom-roads [dot] de
  • send information, historical notes as well as photographs to: info [at] freedom-roads [dot] de
  • send ideas for possible new name givers. Please post your thoughts to the web debate forum

The first freedom roads! exhibition opened its doors 8/28 - 10/3/2010 in Berlin. The exhibition will be transferred into other German cities. Next stations: Kunsthaus Hamburg and Münchner Stadmuseum. On its way the exhibition will constantly grow with local street name issues and participations. The 'grown' freedom roads! exhibition will return to Berlin and present an overall view of all the topics, urban spaces and positions. An international meeting will follow.


freedom roads! is a project of

Exhibition curatorium: HMJokinen and Christian Kopp

Cooperation partners of the freedom roads! exhibition 2010 in Berlin:
Afrikanisches Viertel e.V.
AfricAvenir International e.V. 
August Bebel Institut (ABI) 
Berliner Entwicklungspolitischer Ratschlag (BER) e.V.
Entwicklungspolitisches Bildungs- und Informationszentrum (EPIZ) e.V.

Translation: Katja Kellerer and Philipp Lange

n e w s
the first station of the
touring exhibition
freedom roads!
was the Gallery
August Bebel Institut
Berlin-Wedding, Germany
8/28 - 10/3/2010
for a fundamental change
in dealing with Germany's
colonial heritage.
Please undersign
the Resolution!
The Debate Forum
is open now!
Discuss with us!
List of renamings of colonial streets in Germany and
other European countries