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Annual Conference 2017 - Postcolonialism and Theology of Mission: Concepts, Challenges, Perspectives
The annual conference offered an introduction to the history, approaches and central concepts of postcolonial theory as well as demonstrated the theological and missiological relevance of postcolonial discourses. The perspective of postcolonial theorists in the narrower sense was complemented by contributions from scholars who also explicitly reflected on post- or neocolonial contexts, but who drew on discourses other than "postcolonial studies".
At the latest since the publication of Frantz Fanon’s “The Damned of the Earth” (1961) and Edward Said’s study on Western “Orientalism” (1978), the critical examination of the history, structure and aftermath of European colonialism has been a central topic within Western discourses as well. In the Anglo-Saxon world, the so-called “postcolonial studies” have established themselves as an academic discipline in recent decades. After the turn of the millennium, the first approaches of “postcolonial theology” followed in the USA, especially within the Protestant field.
The reception of postcolonial thinking within German-speaking Catholic theology has so far been very hesitant. This is surprising insofar as the confrontation with colonialism and neocolonialism plays a decisive role for the current global-church cooperation, especially in the Catholic Church as the most global religious community of the present, and both the involvement of the Catholic Church in colonialism and its criticism (e.g., in Antonio de Montesinos) go back as far as the history of colonialism itself. The necessity of a discussion within German theology is not least also apparent in view of the German colonial history.
The upcoming annual conference wants to replace this silence by a constructive-critical discussion. It will offer an introduction to the history, approaches and central concepts of postcolonial theory as well as demonstrate the theological and missiological relevance of postcolonial discourses. The perspective of postcolonial theorists in the narrower sense will be complemented by contributions from scholars who also explicitly reflect on post- or neocolonial contexts, but who draw on discourses other than “postcolonial studies”. The plurality of the different challenging situations of the world church as well as the different theoretical and theological points of reference of post-, de- and anticolonial thinking shall be brought into a fruitful discussion.
Guiding questions of the annual conference are, among others, the connection between (theological) knowledge and power, the challenge of developing an understanding of mission under the conditions of a post-colonial context, the multi-layered interconnections of Christianity, modernity and colonialism, as well as the consequences that arise from taking colonial and neo-colonial experiences seriously for the speech of God, church pastoral care, the understanding of the Bible and church development cooperation.
The aim of the conference is to advance the discussion of postcolonial theory within German-speaking Catholic theology, to enable an exchange between experiences of different postcolonial contexts and to gain perspectives for the practice of the world church in the respective countries. The discussion of the topic will be deepened in several workshops on the second day of the event.
Juan Manuel Contreras Colín

Profesor-Investigador für Philosophie at the
Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México


Musa W. Dube

Professor of Theology at the
University of Botswana


Raúl Fornet-Betancourt

Professor of Philosophy at the
RWTH University Aachen


Leela Gandhi

Professorin of English Literature at
Brown University


Marion Grau

Professorin of Theology at the
Norwegian School of Theology


Norbert Hintersteiner

Director of the Institute for Missiology and non-European theologies
at the University of Münster


Claudia Jahnel

Head of the area “Mission Interkulturell at
Mission EineWelt


Michael Nausner

Professor of Systematic Theology at the
Theological University Reutlingen


Saskia Wendel

Professor of Systematic Theology at the
University of Cologne


Felix Wilfred

Director of the
Asian Center of Cross-Cultural Studies

Prof. Dr. Raúl Fornet-Betancourt will speak about the connection between postcolonialism and imperialism in today’s world. (in German)

„Antiimperialismus bedeutet Antikapitalismus” (RAÚL FORNET-BETANCOURT)


Prof. Dr. Michael Nausner explores the question of how postcolonialism and mission theology relate to the topic of migration. (in German)

„Niemand von uns ist eine reine Identität“ (MICHAEL NAUSNER)


Prof. Dr. Saskia Wendel explains the different paths of postcolonial theories in the interview.

Durch postkoloniale Theorien die eigene Tradition kristisch hinterfragen (SASKIA WENDEL)


Dr. Claudia Jahnel takes a critical stance in her interview on the subject of development and the associated economic interests of industrialized countries versus those of developing countries. (in German)

Civilization Mission oktroyiert Menschen andere Werte auf (CLAUDIA JAHNEL)


Prof. Dr. Marion Grau explores the questions surrounding the hermeneutics of postcolonial and theological language. (in English)

„All theologies are political“ (MARION GRAU)


In the interview, Prof. Dr. Leela Gandhi delves into some of her theses on critical seeing on postcolonialism and postcolonial theories. (in English)

„It’s not a grand theory, it’s makeshift“ (LEELA GANDHI)


In this interview, Prof. Dr. Felix Wilfred explains why Asia, and India in particular, can serve as an example of where postcolonial theories are emerging and being substantiated today. (in English)

„Postkoloniale Theorien geschehen in Indien“ (FELIX WILFRED)


Prof. Dr. Juan Manuel Contreras Colín talks about the lasting legacy of the colonization of Latin America and the necessary decolonization of theological epistemology. (in Spanish with German subtitles)
Die theologische Epistemologie dekolonialisieren (JUAN MANUEL CONTRERAS COLÍN)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


14:30 Registration
15:00 Welcome and Introduction
15:30  A Critical Introduction to Postcolonial Theory   Leela Gandhi (Providence)
16:30 Break
17:00 The anti-imperialism movement in Latin America as a pioneer of decolonial thinking   Raúl Fornet-Betancourt (Aachen)
18:00 Dinner
19:30 Paths of Postcolonial Mission: Past, Present and Future   Musa W. Dube (Gaborone)



Thursday, March 30, 2017


09:00  Dialogue between Postcolonial Theories and Asian Theologies   Felix Wilfred (Chennai)
10:00 Break
10:30 Aspects of a Postcolonial Theological Hermeneutics for Missiology.   Marion Grau (Oslo)
11:30 Neither inclusion nor exclusion – a theological discourse on religion with postcolonial theories. Saskia Wendel (Cologne)
12:30 Lunch
14:30 Workshops
W 1: Reading the bible in the Postcolony
Musa W. Dube, Botsuana
W 2: The Future’s not ours to see. Postkoloniale Perspektiven auf den „religious turn“ in der deutschen Entwicklungszusammenarbeit“
Claudia Jahnel, Neuendettelsau
W 3: Migration in Europe from the Perspective of Postcolonial Theology
Michael Nausner, Reutlingen
16:30 Break
17:00 Presentation of the workshop results
17:30 Posibility for worship
18:10 Dinner Buffet



Friday, March 31, 2017


09:00 Critique of Eurocentric colonialism at the origin of the colonial system. Perspectives of the American Indian peoples Juan Manuel Contreras Colín (Mexiko City)
10:00 Break
10:30 After the Postcolonial Whirl? Missiology and postcolonial cultural theory between appropriation and critique. Norbert Hintersteiner (Münster)
11:30 panel discussion


Simultaneous German translation was provided for all English-language presentations.