Ghost Stories

Writing History and Figuring Identity in the Wake of Colonial Trauma


  • Judith Gruber KU Leuven


postcolonial historiography, decolonization, colonial trauma, postcolonial exegesis


A crucial issue in methodological reflections on African theologies is the question how we can define “African” identity. Since Contextual Theologies first emerged in the early 1970s, it has become clear that the search for cultural identity cannot be pursued independently from the legacies of colonial power/knowledge regimes that continue to shape imaginations of Africa. Starting from a case study of the post/colonial relationship between Belgium and the DRC as it is imagined in the exhibition of the Africa Museum near Brussels, this contribution argues that postcolonial historiographies can have both, de- or recolonizing effects. It also brings theology into the conversation, arguing that core themes in postcolonial historiographies resonate deeply with central motives of the Christian tradition. Based on this interdisciplinary commentary, the article aims to contribute to a framework for conceptualizing post/colonial African identity in the wake of colonial trauma.


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