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Robbie Aitken

Dr Robbie Aitken

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Summary

My teaching and research interests centre on the history of an African Diaspora in Europe, German and European colonialism, modern German and European history, constructions of race, and conceptions of blackness and whiteness. 

  • About

    I joined Sheffield Hallam University as a Senior Lecturer in 2010 and I am currently a Reader in History.

    Prior to joining, I was first a Research Fellow and then a Lecturer in German Studies at the University of Liverpool. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Liverpool in 2002 during which time I also spent a year of research at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin.

    My research and teaching interests include the history of the Black Diaspora in Germany, European colonialism, and constructions of race in pre-1945 Europe. I have published widely on Germany's first Black community including Black Germany: The Making and Unmaking of a Diaspora Community, 1884-1960 (with Eve Rosenhaft, Cambridge University Press, 2013, 2015). My current work looks at Black compensation claims made in the aftermath of the Holocaust.

    African Diaspora in Germany/Europe

    German and European colonialism

    Constructions of race and conceptions of
    blackness and whiteness

    Modern German and European history

  • Teaching

    Department of Humanities

    Social Sciences and Humanities

    Black Germany, 1884-1960

    British Trading Firms in colonial Cameroon

    History 

    BA History, MRes History

    Level 4: Empires and Encounters
    Level 5: Race: Difference and Power in the Modern World
    Level 5: Eastern Europe, 1945-1989
    Level 5: Germany, 1890-1933 From Reich to Republic
    Level 6: Citizenship, Race and Violence: Germans and Africans in Colonial and Postcolonial Encounters
    Level 6: History Dissertation
    Level 7: Research Training Methods

  • Research

    • Humanities Research Centre

    I am currently working on the experiences of people of African heritage during the Nazi period and their efforts to receive compensation from the West German state in the aftermath of World War Two.

    Young Scholars Network, Black Diaspora and Germany, University of Münster

    Black Germany Exhibition with Destination Arts

  • Publications

    A list of publications is available from the institutional repository, SHURA

    ‘Blacks in Germany’, in Encyclopedia of Blacks in European Civilization, ed. Eric Martone (Westport CT: Greenwood Press, December 2008), pp. 240-43.

    ‘Wilhelm Munumé und Peter Mukuri Makembe’, with Eve Rosenhaft, in Unbekannte Biographien. Afrikaner im deutschsprachigen Raum vom 18. JH bis zum Ende des Zweiten Weltkrieges, ed. Ulrich van der Heyden (Berlin: Kai Homilius, 2008), pp. 157-65.

    ‘Martin Dibobe’, with Eve Rosenhaft, in Unbekannte Biographien. Afrikaner im deutschsprachigen Raum vom 18. JH bis zum Ende des Zweiten Weltkrieges, ed. Ulrich van der Heyden (Berlin: Kai Homilius, 2008), pp. 167-77.

    ‘“König der Abenteurer”: Joseph Soppo Muange’, with Eve Rosenhaft, in Unbekannte Biographien. Afrikaner im deutschsprachigen Raum vom 18. JH bis zum Ende des Zweiten Weltkrieges, ed. Ulrich van der Heyden (Berlin: Kai Homilius, 2008), pp. 179-87.

    ‘Introduction’, with Eve Rosenhaft, in Africa in Europe: Studies in Transnational Practice in the Long Twentieth Century, eds. Eve Rosenhaft and Robbie Aitken, (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013), pp. 1-16.

    ‘The Enemy Within, Gradations of Whiteness in German Southwest Africa’, in Basler Afrika Bibliographien Working Papers, 4 (2005), p. 1-12.

    ‘Politik und Performance. Deutsch-Afrikaner in Berlin der 20er und 30er Jahre’, with Eve Rosenhaft, in “Macht und Anteil an der Weltherrschaft”. Berlin und der deutsche Kolonialismus, eds. Ulrich van der Heyden and Joachim Zeller (Münster: Unrast-Verlag, 2005), pp. 270-76.

    Exclusion and Inclusion: Gradations of Whiteness and Socio-Economic Engineering in German Southwest Africa 1884-1914 (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2007).

    ‘Looking for Die Besten Boeren: The Normalisation of Afrikaner Settlement in German South West Africa, 1884-1914’, in Journal of Southern African Studies, 33/2 (2007), pp. 343-60.

  • Other activities

    I have developed, designed and created a travelling exhibition linked to my research on Germany's Black community. This has been staged both in the UK and in Germany.
    https://www.hereandblack.org/black-germany/
    And: I have worked on several exhibition projects in Germany including 'Zurückgeschaut' in Berlin-Treptow: http://zurueckgeschaut.de/

    2010-Present Member of Young Scholars Network, Black Diaspora and Germany, University of Münster
    2017-Present H-Net Black Europe Book Review Editor

  • Postgraduate supervision

    Current doctoral projects:
    Minority Language Rights in Arizona, 1960–2000
    Everyday life in diaries from the ghettos of Warsaw and Łódź
    The Propaganda of the Aid Spain Movement 1936 - 1938

    Current Masters' projects:
    From Accra to Chorlton: Black Activism in Britain, 1930s-1960s
    Uncovering the Network of Terror: British Discovery of Nazi Concentration Camps 1933-49

    Completed doctoral projects:
    British Colonial Development Discourse and African Agency: The Case of Busoga, Uganda 1940-1962
    British attitudes towards German prisoners of war and their treatment: 1939-48
    Completed Masters' projects:
    Countering Holocaust Denial: Historical and Legal Approaches from the David Irving v. Penguin Books Ltd. & Deborah Lipstadt Libel Trial

  • Media

    My research focuses on the development of a Black Community in Germany from the onset of realised colonialism in the 1880s up to and beyond the Second World War. I also have an active interest in the history of European colonialism.

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