Frederick Cooper
Machtbeziehungen in kolonialen Kontexten:
Initiativen von oben, von unten und dazwischen

Thyssen Lectues 2022-2026 – Science, Knowledge, and the Legacy of Empire,
zweisprachige Ausgabe (Deutsch, Englisch), 78 Seiten
Verlag der Buchhandlung Klaus Bittner, 2024, 12,-€
ISBN: 978-3-926397-62-1

The „Thyssen Lectures“ are a continuation of a tradition that the Fritz Thyssen Foundation initiated in 1979, first at various institutions throughout Germany, and then at several universities in Czechia, Israel, the Russian Federation, Turkey, and most recently in Greece. The series in the United Kingdom and Ireland will be held over a period of four years. Spearheaded by Prof. Christina von Hodenberg, director of the German Historical Institute London, it will be dedicated to the overarching theme of „Science, Knowledge, and the Legacy of Empire“.


Inspired by categories developed by the Senegalese politician, poet, and political thinker Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906–2001), Frederick Cooper’s talk broaches the question of how to study power in the colonial and postcolonial world. Rather than postulating a duality between top-down (elitist) history and a vision coming from the bottom of class, racial, and gender hierarchies, Cooper argues that unequal relationships are still relationships and can be pushed and pulled in different directions. He follows Senghor in linking two forms of solidarity: horizontal (defined by people sharing a common culture or social position), and vertical (the relationship between top and bottom of a political or social order). If Africans across the continent worked together, Senghor argued, they could turn colonizers’ claims on Africans into Africans’ claim on the colonizer for the redistribution of resources and power. Cooper’s talk is a plea for studying the ‘in-between’ – in social, political, and geographical terms – and for examining how people working across social categories have in recent history produced fundamental changes in the world political order.

Frederick Cooper is Professor Emeritus of History at New York University. His research has focused on twentieth-century Africa, empires, colonization and decolonization, and citizenship. Among his books are Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History (2005); Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference (with Jane Burbank, 2010); Citizenship between Empire and Nation: Remaking France and French Africa, 1945–1960 (2014); Africa in the World: Capitalism, Empire, Nation-State (2014); Citizenship, Inequality, and Difference: Historical Perspectives (2018); Africa since 1940: The Past of the Present (2nd edn, 2019), and Post-Imperial Possibilities: Eurasia, Eurafrica, Afroasia (with Jane Burbank, 2023).

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