CfP: Bremen and colonialism

Call for papers, deadline 28 February 2024

Edited by Norman Aselmeyer (University of Bremen) and Virginie Kamche (Afrika Netzwerk Bremen e.V.)
Deadline: 03 November 2023
Submission of manuscripts: 28 February 2024

Why is there an elephant in Bremen? Why did Bremen call itself the “City of Colonies”? What do Jacobs Kaffee, Eduscho and Kaffee HAG have to do with colonialism? Why are Maasai objects in the Übersee-Museum? The book “Bremen and Colonialism” (working title) deals with these and other questions about Bremen’s and Bremerhaven’s involvement in European colonialism. Despite numerous initiatives, Germany’s colonial history, and Bremen’s role in particular, is not sufficiently recognised and discussed in society. The book aims to remedy this with short and informative texts and to bring colonial history to the attention of a broad public in a low-threshold way. Numerous cities and regions in Europe are currently working on coming to terms with their colonial legacies. Since the example of Bremen and Bremerhaven is particularly well suited to illustrate the close intertwining of the German economy and urban life with European colonialism, the project goes beyond the immediate local historical reference. As a port city, Bremen benefited early on from the colonial involvement of other European countries and also became a forerunner of the official German colonial empire. This volume focuses on the places, people, events, companies and institutions as well as material objects of Bremen’s colonial past and its coloniality that continues to this day.

As a panorama of Bremen’s extensive (post-)colonial history, this book intends to convey German colonial history to a broader audience. For easier access, the texts are organised thematically and are accompanied by illustrations (the State Archives of Bremen has agreed to grant free reprint permission for photographs from its collection). The book targets all historically interested readers who are interested in (post-)colonial issues. At the same time, the book addresses those who are involved in educational work or educational institutions such as schools, museums, foundations, universities or political education. Because of the target audience, the texts will narrate the events and topics in a less academic and technical style, but in an engaging and understandable manner. A major publisher has already agreed to publish the volume.

Scope and structure
The book is scheduled for publication in August 2024. It is envisaged that it will consist of 50 texts, each of c. 1500–1700 words (5 printed pages). As the volume intends to consolidate knowledge on Bremen’s colonial legacy and make it accessible to a broad public, both well-known facts and new research results can be presented. The following structure (with suggested articles) covers the thematic breadth of the volume:

1. Places (the Elephant, Bremen University, “Lüderitzbucht”, Keta, Zanzibar, Bremen City Hall, the harbour, the Tabakquartier, Jamaica, St. Thomas, Cuba and the plantation economy, Kunsthalle Bremen, street names etc.)

2. People (Ben Amathila, Johannes Kohl, Mercy Baeta, William Stepny, Adolf Lüderitz, Heinrich Vogelsang, Ludwig Roselius, Hedwig Heyl, Otto Finsch, Gerhard Rohlfs, Vietor family, Herbert Ganslmayr etc.)

3. Events (the “Hun” speech, the Schaffermahlzeit, Bremen as the “City of Colonies”, emigration, distant-water fishing, conference of the German Colonial Society in Bremen in 1908, 1938 exhibition “Bremen – Key to the World”, German Africa Show in Bremen, abolitionism, the genocide in Namibia, restitutions etc.)

4. Companies & Institutions (Kaffee HAG, Jacobs Kaffee, Ludwig Bortfeldt, Baumwollbörse, Bremen Mission, Deutsch-Ostafrikanische Gesellschaft, Übersee-Museum, Norddeutsche Lloyd, Bremer Kolonialpfadfinder, Nordwolle AG etc.)

5. Objects (letters by Hendrik Witbooi, Mkwawa and Human Remains, the ships “Wilhelm Ludwig”, “Africa” and “Schiller”, whaling, coffee, tobacco, sugar and the institution of slavery, Bremen textbooks etc.).

Interest in contributing one of these or another article can be expressed by 03 November 2023 with a punchy title (preferably in the form of a question) and a concise synopsis by email to or by form ( The deadline for submission of finished manuscripts is 29 February 2024.

The volume will be published in German. For contributors who are not familiar with the German language, the editors will assist in translating articles from languages such as English and French into German.

Key facts:
Deadline for article proposals: 03.11.2023
Notification of Acceptance/Rejection: 17.11.2023
Submission of final texts: 29.02.2024
Publication date: August 2024
Length: 1500–1700 words plus b/w illustrations (please obtain and attach printing permission independently; images need a minimum resolution of 300dpi) with very few footnotes and max. 3–5 bibliographical references