This document represents the 'Methodological toolkit' for the Horizon2020 PROJECT ECHOES; European Colonial Heritage Modalities in Entangled Cities. The ECHOES project brings together scholars from a wide range of disciplines and nationalities and entails cases in cityscapes from Asia, Africa and South America and from Northern, Western, Southern and Eastern Europe. ECHOES focuses on various forms and levels of engagements with colonial heritage from local street performances to EU political discourse. The overall aim is to investigate decolonial heritage practices outside Europe in former colonized territories with multiple and different histories of colonialisms as well as to look at decolonial practices inside Europe while keeping in mind the very different trajectories of the different European colonial projects. The fact that Europe's colonial past is simultaneously present as an undeniable heritage in its cities, institutions and international relationships, and also constantly 'echoed' back to it from the former colonized 'outside' constitutes both the challenge and the promise of the ECHOES project; to look for way in which to engage a decolonized future by seeking inspiration in how the colonial past is managed, transformed and worked on by various artistic, political, heritage or civil actors in cityscapes within and beyond the with European continent.
The wide interdisciplinary, geographically, cultural and socio-politically localized perspectives as well as its transnational scope and participation is one of the great strengths of ECHOES. It also demands, however, that the necessary flexibility required by such a heterogeneous field of interests, contexts and approaches, be balanced with a concern for maintaining and facilitating cohesion across the project. Sharing a common theoretical, methodological and analytical vocabulary – developed, discussed and brought into being in and through the joint effort of producing the contents of this 'Methodological Toolkit' – is what secures sufficient cohesion to ground the ambition of engendering cooperation between scholars with different backgrounds and interests. Moreover, this shared vocabulary is prerequisite for providing a deeper understanding of colonial heritage in Europe and beyond, through comparisons and contrasts between the many different cases included in ECHOES.
In this short introduction we will first more fully present the idea, ambitions and structure of the ECHOES project. We will then further discuss the challenges faced and the solutions chosen in relation to working on a 'methodological toolkit' for a project of this size and heterogeneity; more specifically this entails explaining why the toolkit ultimately has taken the form of a collection of 'ECHOES keywords'.
ECHOES brings together scholars from University of Cape Town, Fudan University (Shanghai), Federal University of Rio de Janeiro State, University of Coimbra, University of Warzaw, University of Rennes, University of Amsterdam, Aarhus University and University of Hull, to address European colonialism as a complex heritage in European history that has not adequately made it into a public narrative at European level. ECHOES faces this deficit and proposes to Europeanize colonial heritage by developing new models of engaging with this legacy, both at the level of exploring and developing decolonial entanglements between different European and non-European societies and cities, and at the level of the European Union. "Europeanizing" difficult colonial heritage is becoming all the more necessary because the EU is increasingly operating in contexts, relationships and geographies where its deficit towards accepting colonialism as a part of European history – and not just as one parceled out to individual nation-states – is counter-productive inside as well as outside Europe.
To remedy this, it is necessary to examine the internal memory discourses and silences of European institutions. This project includes such a politico-institutional dimension but it also moves beyond it to explore how colonial heritage is being practiced and is re-emerging in new and dynamic ways in and through the entanglements of European and non-European cities.
ECHOES adopt a multi-dimensional view on colonialism, as it investigates contemporary sites of entanglements between former colonizers and colonized both inside and outside of Europe through the lens of de-coloniality. To opt for the concept of de-coloniality means firstly acknowledging the dynamic role of globalization with its global networks and mobilities, while at the same time accepting that globalization and increased mobility is framed, perceived and embodied differently depending on the place we inhabit; secondly, to break with the dominant Western epistemology and make former marginal voices and bodies seen and heard; and thirdly to build "new" entangled partnerships and forms of diplomacy between Europe and the countries formerly colonized that proposes alternatives to ignorance or Eurocentrism. We argue for a 'lateral universalism' as an alternative to the 'exceptionalist universal' that is just masked eurocentrism. A lateral universalism is open-ended and it has to prove itself in the way it fights for emancipation for all.
The investigation of entanglements involves the following cities: Rio de Janeiro, Lisbon, Nuuk, Copenhagen, Bristol, Cape Town, Marseille, Shanghai, Amsterdam, Warzaw. The project views these cities as important sites of entanglements and nodal points through which former imperial connections passed and were condensed, and in which the legacies and traces of colonialism are manifest. The urban areas in the studied cities are first and foremost characterized by Europeans and large numbers of migrants from Europe's ex-colonies, shorter or longer-term contract employees, tourists, visitors and passers-through of all kinds that in themselves are the visible traces of colonial ties and of increased mobility. The migrant communities change the cities they inhabit by introducing new global connections and flows of resources and by obviously deconstructing the binary opposition between 'insider and outsider' exactly because their very presence in the cities makes an 'old' and in many cases repressed or forgotten mobility flow between 'colony' and 'metropole' re-emerge.
Cities, therefore, are important nodal points of entangled imperial systems. Cities are the sites of important heritage organizations such as large metropolitan museums and arts galleries. They are also sites of new heritage practices, many of which are associated with specific city "quarters" or "districts" that are identified with specific ethnic groups both historically and in the present day. These neighborhoods typically reveal themselves to be sites of divergent cultural practices, whether formal or informal (festivals, fairs, parades) which see citizens inhabiting and appropriating particular spaces often possessing direct links to the colonial past. Cities are often where dominant discourses around heritage are created, where divergent heritage practices occur and where political battles around processes of representation and recognition of heritage happen.
ECHOES work on colonial heritage in different settings of the city and with different actors.:, with institutionalized spaces such as museums, memorial landscapes, monuments, and with citizen engagements, activities and artistic creations. The project aims at forming hybrid clusters of scholars, EU-officials and partners in the selected cities including museum experts, activists and artists as well as citizens. By circulating practices and knowledge in cities and between cities ECHOES will contribute to creating connections and renewed entanglements between these actors and activities. The inter-city dialogue on colonial heritage constitute the first – or horizontal – level of science diplomacy within the project. The second – or vertical – level of science diplomacy involves policy makers and professionals within the relevant European institutions. The exchange at both horizontal and vertical levels aims to bring forward a de-colonial perspective on Europe's global engagements and promote innovative approaches to science diplomacy. To achieve this end, ECHOES conceptually develops the notion of science diplomacy which in an EU context traditionally have been approached from a "diffusionist perspective" in which Europe diffuses experts, knowledge, equipment and ideas to further diplomatic relations with partners outside Europe. In the traditional understanding of science diplomacy, heritage concerns archaeology in conflict-ridden areas where the EU assists partners outside Europe to their work to secure endangered heritage. The ECHOES approach to science diplomacy is fundamentally different as the role of ECHOES is to serve as a link or interface between on the one-hand citizen groups and institutions inside and outside Europe and on the other hand stakeholders and policy makers within the EU system. ECHOES finds the conceptual basis for this function in the notion of intercultural dialogue and what Wole Soyinka has labeled "the hermeneutics of listening". The aim of ECHOES is, in this respect, ultimately, to develop decolonial practices of sciences diplomacy.
As already indicated the idea of a common 'methodological toolkit' shared across ECHOES situated itself in a field of tensions generated simply by the need to, on the one hand, respect and make room for a productive variety of approaches and cases, while, on the other hand, ensuring that such heterogeneity does not lead to fragmentation. The concern has been to ensure cohesion without enforcing homogeneity. Through our discussions it quickly became apparent that the answer concerned both the process through which the toolkit would come into being as well as the form which it would eventually take.
Regarding the latter there was a shared feeling that the designator 'methodological toolkit' served well to convey the ultimate ambition of thinking through how the ideas and aims embodied in ECHOES necessarily spilled over into methodological concerns such as how research questions were asked, to how empirical material should be gathered and how to 'read' colonial heritage practices. But we did not want to allow the connotations of a strict 'rulebook' to determine our discussions or destination. We rejected both the notion that working on a common methodological toolkit had to necessarily mean the hegemonic instituting of a standard universalist 'laboratory' procedure. And we also rejected the idea of an absolute relativity and lack of intercultural translation between our cities. The decolonial values at the heart of ECHOES insist that we remain vary of epistemologies wielding claims to universal validity and applicability and at the same time acknowledging the connections and interculturality of all our heterogenous areas of study.
Thus the cohesion of our methodological toolkit would be the cohesion of an ongoing conversation rather than that of a final authoritative law. This meant that instead of pushing towards a set of 'standards' or 'rules' for how things were to be done, we would instead concentrate on collectively generating a common vocabulary which could ground and make mutually intelligible the ongoing discussion about what we were doing – or hoping to do. In more concrete terms we therefore became much more inspired by how other scholarly projects or activist collectivities had utilized the textual form of a collection of interrelated 'Keywords', such as can be found in Shepard and Robins' 'New South African Keywords' and the web-based keywords anthology from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Philadelphia for contemporary cultural practice featuring essays and interviews from artists, curators and scholars.
Beyond however the shift in form, it was also – partly exactly because of the transition to thinking in terms of various distinct 'keywords' – necessary to think through and establish a procedure which would include and generate a common ownership and attachment to this vocabulary across the project. More fundamentally we needed to avoid that another form of hegemonic monologue imposed itself through an anonymized and 'encyclopedic' voice decreeing beyond reproach what this or that keyword could mean; we wanted in other words to reject the false universality of any one of us speaking in the name of ECHOES as such. The simple solution is that each keyword has its authorship clearly marked. The text of a given keyword therefore represents a specific reading of what it might mean in an ECHOES context, but does not presume this to be the end of the story, or to be a dogma consensually signed up to part and parcel by all voices in the project. The process leading up to the actual writing of most of the keywords by the various scholars across the project, sought conversely to ensure that un-privileging consensus did not mean giving up on intercultural conversation. In a very concrete way this conversation was engendered in meetings and workshops arranged in Hull, Warsaw, Lisbon, Marseille and Amsterdam, where core terms, ideas, approaches or theories – in other words the various elements which could be collected under different 'keywords' - were considered, debated and put in relation to the accumulating experience of working empirically in the different cities, as well as offered for comment or critique from invited guests be they academics, artists or activists.
Whereas the main product of these discussions is the keywords and therefore make up the bulk of this document, we have chosen to include also the "echoes" of the discussions which brought them into being. We do this by including – in the appendix - a select number of the papers given at our various workshops. The papers can be divided in three sections that treats the decolonial perspective on three different levels, a conceptual of the key-concept of colonialism, a level of practices in urban spaces and a more concrete level of decolonial methods in education, museum exhibition and in research. The papers thus unfold and expand the scope of our research in the keywords.