The projects of “Regarding Colonies” address the history of migration between Europe and its colonies in Africa, between Northern and Southern Europe. They examine past and current practices of exploitation of humans and nature in the global South and the manyfold expressions of resistance. They critically reflect on the forms of their own transcontinental cooperation, shaped by historically grown economic inequalities and cultural misunderstandings in order to transform them.

Italy, Democratic Republic of Congo, Germany

Curated by Eva-Maria Bertschy

Since European trading companies began to operate in distant countries, the birth of the global economy as we know it today, the protagonists of these developments – the traders, explorers, soldiers, missionaries, and colonial administrators – have promoted a global division of labour that turned the countries in the South into suppliers of raw materials that enabled industrialisation in the North. And as sales markets for the industrial products from the north. From the beginning, great efforts were made to prevent any industrialisation and autonomy in the colonies and, just as later, in the independent states.

A division of labour that continues today with the neo-colonial practices of global corporations, outsourcing of the low-wage sectors of industry and all the negative effects of Western consumer societies on the South. The exploitation of the raw materials we need for our technical development destroys the habitats of people in the South and causes political conflicts and wars. Climate change brought on by the West produces the first storms and floods in the Global South. The practices changed over time, but the profits have always flowed to the North. Only since China has imitated Western practices and optimised them in a highly skilful and disastrous way has the global set-up become somewhat shaky.

Palermo and Sicily is an ideal location to rethink this North-South divide, the relations between Europe and Africa. After centuries of occupation by various imperial powers, Sicily was always considered an “underdeveloped” province by the North, even long after the unification of Italy. Today, it represents the southern border of Fortress Europe and has become the gateway, so to speak, for hundreds of thousands of young people from the African continent who are looking for a better future in Europe.

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