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Prof. Sarala Krishnamurthy on Herero and Nama Genocide Survivor Narratives

When: Wednesday, March 27, 2024, 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Where: David Sizer Lecture Theatre, Bancroft Building, Queen Mary University of London Bancroft Queen Mary University of London London E1 4NS, Mile End

The very first genocide of the 20th century took place in Namibia, between 1904-1908, when a direct proclamation from the German General Lothar von Trotha caused the death of 80,000 Hereros and 30,000 Nama people. This has been described as a “dress rehearsal” for the Holocaust which took place later in Germany.


This lecture presents an agonising period of Namibian history bringing together elements that remain relevant in this day and age in the light of discussions around reparations, return of human remains and other material objects. The recent negotiations between the German and the Namibian governments seem to define how and where the shared history is remembered. For years, this engagement with the past on a national and institutional level has been criticised by various Herero and Nama representatives but has also been taken to the streets in Namibia. Nevertheless, these processes have not yet been acknowledged in terms of situated knowledge production.

About the speaker

Professor Sarala Krishnamurthy is Emeritus Professor of Literature and Applied Linguistics at Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). Her research interests are in post-colonial literature, as well as the study of indigenous languages and cultures. In addition to her two books on African literature – Writing Namibia: Literature in Transition (2018) and Writing Namibia: Coming of Age (2022), Professor Krishnamurthy has published a number of important articles that have appeared in leading journals. Professor Krishnamurthy's recent research has focussed on the Herero and Nama Genocide. Her path-breaking work focuses on survivor narratives with a view to collecting and collating stories related to the genocide. Her research examines oral transmissions of the genocide over several generations from various perspectives. In so doing, her work sheds new light on suppressed voices and the un-recorded history of the Otjiherero people of Namibia.

The event is supported by the IHSS Visiting Fellowship scheme.

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