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Many carnival costumes reproduce colonial thinking, says the cultural scientist Noa K. Ha. Why not go as a potato rather than 34; Indians 34;?

Noa K. Ha: costumes are not innocent

Many carnival costumes reproduce colonial thinking, says the cultural scientist Noa K. Ha. Why not go as a potato rather than 34; Indians 34;?

Noa K. Ha:   costumes are not innocent
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  • Page 1 — "Costumes are not innocent"
  • Page 2 — "Whoever criticizes racism in Germany is fast self-racist"
  • Page 3 — "It's not about guilt but responsibility"
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    Time Online: Soon people again dress up in whole of Germany, among ors as "Indians", "Funny Africans" or "Chinese". Where does fascination for se long-outdated clichés come from?

    Noa K. Ha: It is fascination for supposedly different, foreign and exotic that many Europeans have been looking for since colonial period. That se ors were not so different, but also people with families and everyday life, that did not play a big role. You needed or to distance yourself from it and increase it over ors. They projected fantasies on m, made fun of m. This pattern continues until today.

    Time Online: They say you needed or. How was that a necessity?

    ha: In colonialism, a distorted knowledge of ors was generated to inform Europeans about who subject is. If you are fundamentally different from myself, I do not have to treat it like peers. In colonialism not only territories were conquered and people were subjected, but it was always accompanied by cultural power of interpretation. The Colonial Lords determined who and how ors are or have to be to distance m from mselves. The costumes reflect this claim to this day.

    Time Online: At carnival, it is also about breaking taboos and reversing relationships?

    K. Ha

    has been head of integration Studies centre of TU Dresden since 2018. Previously she taught at TU Berlin and Hu Berlin on topics such as Postcolonial City, diaspora, gender, urbanity and informality as well as urban and spatial sociology from postcolonial, decolonial and rassismuskritischer perspective.

    ha: Yes that's true. But question is wher a taboo is broken with Chinese or African costumes, or wher certain clichés with a long tradition are continued unquestioned. What many hide is that history of Ethnisierenden disguises is linked to colonial robbery and looting. The Ethnological museums in Europe are full of artifacts, some of which were forcibly snatched from original owners. Many of se artifacts are related to carnival costumes. You're not innocent.

    Time Online: And yet many people feel personally attacked when y are pointed to problematic story. How do you explain this?

    ha: Most people have grown up here with understanding to be able to claim everything for mselves – also cultural knowledge of former colonised. The exhibitions in Ethnological museums testify to this day, and many questions of provenance and restitution that have not yet been answered.

    But why do we think that we can dress up with clos of ors without knowing, for example, ir spiritual context? For example, what do we know about headdress of indigenous people in North America? Very little. And yet fear jewellery is constantly popping up and unquestioned in popular cultural contexts.

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