Colonial Commodities - Entanglements in German and West-African History

Research project at the Chair of Digital and Audiovisual Media (Prof. Hanke)

Content and aim of the research project

This project examines multimodal relationalities of German colonial history and its aftermath in Germany and West Africa. The research will be performed in close dialogue and cooperation between University of Yaoundé I, University of Bayreuth and Braunschweig University of Art (HBK).

German industrialization, colonization, media of mass culture and West African plantation economy, enslavement and infrastructures of transport are deeply intertwined. Their historical entanglements are discussed by focusing on two exemplary cases of ‘colonial commodities’, each of which is associated with different practices of power and knowledge: Cocoa/Chocolate and Cinchona/Quinine.

Using a Science and Technology Studies (STS) inspired approach, we follow the materials, the colonial practices and the knowledges related to them, their conditions of production, their routes of transportation as well as administration, their material and medial transformations, discursive and visual attributions.

The focus on these two exemplary colonial materials allows an analysis of their situatedness(es) and an empirical study on relationalities of colonialism, industrialization and mass media. With the focus on cacao/chocolate and cinchona/quinine the project aims at a critique of often overlooked epistemic legacies of these knowledges up to the present day (see collector’s items, popular culture, digital games etc.).

This project will put in dialogue research into colonial history in Germany and Cameroon and enables a discussion on the relationally of media history and colonial history for a range of disciplines within African Studies (literature studies, film studies, cultural history, Science and Technology Studies) and beyond. The project will as well contribute to recent historical and political debates about German colonialism as to approaches of decolonization knowledges of the Global North.


Colonial labor and European Addictions

Panel at GfM 2022, Annual Conference of the Association of Media Studies, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Halle/Saale, 30.09.2022, 09:00 – 10:30 am


Ulrike Bergermann: Collective Techniques of Taste. Colonial Aesthetics and Taste Tanks

Leah Gerfelmeyer: Steam chocolate, affects and advertising media

Christine Hanke: Pharmakon – The bitter taste of colonization

Dr Salamatou: Farming of cocoa and cinchona in Southern Cameroon under German rule. Archaeological and historical studies of environmental, spatial, socio-cultural, economic and geopolitical dynamics.

Chaired by Jiré Emine Gözen

Project Members


University of Bayreuth (Germany), University of Yaoundé I (Cameroon), and Braunschweig University of Art (HBK) (Germany)

Research Team:

Prof. Dr. Christine Hanke (Media Studies, University of Bayreuth), christine.hanke[at]

Prof. Dr. Ulrike Bergermann (Media Studies, Braunschweig University of Art (HBK)) u.bergermann[at]

Prof. Dr. David Simo (DAW – Center for German-African Scientific Cooperation, University of Yaoundé I) simobiegain20[at]

Prof. Dr. Jean Bertrand Miguoué (German Literature, University of Yaoundé I)

Prof. Dr. Martin Elouga (Archeology, University of Yaoundé I) martelo12[at]

Dr. Constantin Tayim Sonkwé (German Literature, DAW / University of Yaoundé I) constysonkwe[at]

Dr. Salamatou (Archeology/History, DAW / University of Yaoundé I) salamatou2019[at]

Leah Gerfelmeyer (PhD candidate BIGSAS, Media Studies, University of Bayreuth) Leah.Gerfelmeyer[at]

Nicolai Duken (Student Research Assistant, Media Studies, University of Bayreuth)

Duration: January 2022 – December 2025

Research Section (RS): RS Knowledges