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Nevin Aiken

2015 WIHR Research Projects

The Politics of Memorialization in Post-Genocide Namibia

Funded projects, February 2015

Researcher: Nevin Aiken

Department: Political Science

Between 1904 and 1908, over 70,000 indigenous Herero and Nama peoples living in modern-day Namibia were killed in a campaign of violence by carried out by the colonial forces of the German state in what is now recognized as the ‘first genocide of the 20th century.  However, despite the country’s movement to independence in 1990, there have been very few physical memorials, commemorations or official recognitions of the genocide present in contemporary Namibia.  In light of this conspicuous absence, this project will seek to answer two interrelated questions.  First, what key factors have contributed to the dearth of physical memorials or commemorations of the genocide by the post-independence Namibian government?  Second, what has the impact of this continued marginalization of the past been for the indigenous Herero and Nama peoples living in Namibia today?   Through a 5-week period of field research in May-June 2015, Dr. Nevin T. Aiken will interrogate the reasons behind this lack of memorialization through the collection of photographic documentation, archival research, and a series of in-depth interviews with key government leaders, civil society representatives, and local indigenous leaders.  It is anticipated that this research will provide new insights into the politics of memory in post-genocide Namibia and the relationship between justice, memorialization, and reconciliation in societies emerging from legacies of past violence.

Namibian Genocide

Namibian Genocide

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