Howard Richard Rechavia-Taylor

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Columbia U.

Grant number

Gr. 9850

Approve Date

April 30, 2019

Project Title

Rechavia-Taylor, Howard (Columbia U.) "‘Coming to terms’ with Namibia in Germany- Race, Reckoning, and Reparation in a fractured Europe"

HOWARD RECHAVIA-TAYLOR, then a graduate student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received a grant in April 2019 to aid research on “‘Coming to Terms’ with Namibia in Germany: Race, Reckoning, and Reparation in a Fractured Europe,” supervised by Dr. Nadia Abu El-Haj. This research explored how the German state responds to demands for reparations from former colonial subjects, focusing on encounters between Namibians and the German state. It examined interactions in New York City, Berlin, and in Windhoek The study revealed the complex ways in which struggles for historical justice and redress unfold in the present. The research addressed questions about strategies used to make reparation claims, resistance from German Namibians, and the German state’s response. Findings show that Namibian state representatives and genocide victims’ descendants employ different strategies: namely national developmentalism versus liberation from denialism. The German state often invokes notions of Holocaust singularity in its response. The study also highlights resistance and complexity from German Namibians, including genocide denialism in Namibian cultural spheres. Some German Namibians, however, show solidarity with Herero and Nama demands, often driven by shared Lutheran affiliations. Overall, these findings are generally suggestive of the fact that discussions of reparations in the context of German colonialism in Namibia often involve differing constructions of the relationship between the past, present, and future of political violence.