Dr. Britta Schilling

Cultural History
Associate Professor
Cultural History
+31 30 253 1777

How have people dreamed, experienced, watched, listened to, aestheticized, built, challenged, destroyed, celebrated, suffered, relived, remembered, even tasted empire? To what extent do we still do so now? How has empire affected politics, economics, culture, international relations, family life? How should a community, an organisation or a nation deal with postcolonial and postimperial heritage – and how do they? These kinds of questions inspire Britta Schilling’s research on European colonialism, comparative studies of empire and postcolonial legacies.

Schilling’s first book, Postcolonial Germany (Oxford University Press, 2014) has been called ‘essential reading for anyone interested in the history and legacy of German colonialism’ (David Ciarlo, Central European History), a ‘compact, intelligent, elegantly written book’ (Lora Wildenthal, European History Quarterly) and ‘an excellent study…[that] will, one hopes, mark the beginning of a wider reassessment of the historical legacy of Germany’s colonial adventure (Alexander Clarkson, English Historical Review).

Her further work draws on a range of archival sources – from foreign office and national archives to the holdings of missionary organisations – which she combines with oral history and the analysis of visual and material culture, including architecture. Her research has enabled her to travel extensively, from Swakopmund in Namibia to SOAS in London, from Aix-en-Provence to Berlin, and even down the road to Het Utrechts Archief. In her classes on the history of empire and colonial memory, she aims to give students a solid grounding in empirical research, whilst cultivating the flexibility to think beyond the traditional archive.