Little is known about the presentation and negotiation of German colonial heritage in Africa. Colonial heritage destinations in Africa are popular destinations for participants of the postmodern dark tourism trend, but also manifestations of a negotiation of history by different actors in multi-layered postcolonial debates. By taking both dimensions into account, this thesis focuses on the presentation of colonial history in Africa, examining heritage that derives from German colonization (1884-1915) in today’s independent state of Namibia. How is German colonial history presented in the Namibian cultural tourism landscape and what are the main differences in presenting the colonial past to create meaning in the presence? How do the different population groups on the private sphere, and the postcolonial state manifest their connection to German colonial history? To answer these questions a multi-method ethnography has been implemented, encompassing on-site field work at relevant heritage destinations and museums in Namibia, as well as in-depth expert-interviews with eight individuals who are actively participating in Namibian heritage practices or research. The results of this thesis show that German colonial history in Namibia seems to be presented without elaborating on the dark events of death and violence of that time. This relates to both the narrative of the state, but also to heritage displays by the descendants of the German colonizers and the victims of the Herero and Nama genocide. Whereas official heritage by the state and private initiatives by German-speaking minority focus on monologic presentations of their own (imaginary) versions of history, leaving out the sufferings during German colonial times, the Herero and Nama communities face certain socio-cultural and -economic blockades, that hinder them to present their perspective to the country and the world more actively.

culture, tourism, African Colonial Heritage, Dark Tourism, Heritage Performance, Dialogical Heritage, Namibia Memory Debates
N. van Es
Place, Culture and Tourism
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

M. Hoffmann. (2019, June 10). The Representation of German Colonial History in the Cultural Tourism Landscape of Namibia. Place, Culture and Tourism. Retrieved from