PhD Project of Marie Kirchner
An assembly of heirlooms – what colonial objects tell us of German History
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Hanne Loreck
My PhD research focusses on objects which have been brought to Germany during the time of German colonial rule and since been handed down for many generations in German families as heirlooms.
In the theorical part of my PhD research I focus on what kinds of knowledge and images is articulated through the transfer of such inherited objects. What characterises connections between transfer, impact and repitition of colonialism? And what kind of signifying practices can be identified in family narratives by declaring the heirlooms as private family property?
Using heirlooms as research objects, specific questions can be reflected upon: What history, what meanings be transmitted by them – constructed as souvenirs, as inherited objects, as ornaments, as valuables, as heirlooms?
Following theorists like Mieke Bal, Bruno Latour and Gudrun König in the artistic part of my PhD I will attempt to reverse the relationship between subject and object. Understanding them as subjects which have their own history, biography and point of view I try to ask: What happens if the objects' perspectives are taken into account?