Perverse Decolonization

A (self-)critical research project of the Academy of Arts of the World, Cologne with symposia, artistic programme and a publication


  • Perverse Decolonization is an international research and discussion project addressing the current crisis of postcolonial studies and identity politics and its possible appropriations in new nationalisms emerging on a global scale. The project convenes an international working group of researchers including artists, writers, curators, and theorists from different regions (East Asia, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, US). Together, they explore the notion of “perverse decolonization, in the sense of an emancipative process gone wrong, but also bent to fit the rage of new, transgressive appetites.
    • Looking at the rhetoric of todays right-wing movement, resurgent on a global scale, one often recognizes the uncanny return of rhetorical elements from the context of decolonization. Now is the time to look more closely at the background of “per-verse decolonization: at how postcolonial identities reproduce colonial violence, how identity politics deny the political dimension to postcolonial subjects, how “silent majorities rise against cosmopolitan elites, and how alternative colonial projects export non-Western versions of progress no less brutal than the original European prototype. Can alternative notions like statelessness, “subaltern cosmopolitanism, global socialist modernity, or dirty universalism lead a way forward out of a deadlocked postcolonial field?
  • The project commenced with an initial research meeting and a panel discussion in autumn 2017 in Cologne and continues in a series of research symposia and public events throughout 2018 in the partner institutions, culminat-ing in a symposium in autumn 2018 in Cologne.
  • Project heads

    • Ekaterina Degot, David Riff

  • Curator of artistic commissions

    • Aneta Rostkowska

Funded by