Vanessa Ohlraun, M.A.

Vanessa Ohlraun, M.A.
Im Moore 21
30167 Hannover
Vanessa Ohlraun, M.A.
Im Moore 21
30167 Hannover
Centre for Atlantic and Global Studies
Stellvertretung der wissenschaftlichen Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter
Studienkommission der Philosophischen Fakultät
Stellvertretung der wissenschaftlichen Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter
Masterstudiengang Atlantic Studies in History, Culture and Society
Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter
ab 10.10.2022: Bitte vereinbaren Sie einen Termin
bis 09.10.2022: Bitte vereinbaren Sie einen Termin


  • Koloniale Vergangenheit in Lateinamerika und der Karibik
  • Erbe der Sklaverei und Erinnerungskulturen
  • Politische Repräsentations- und Identitätskonzepte in postkolonialen Gesellschaften des 20. Jahrhundert (insbes. Kuba und Indonesien)
  • Poststrukturalistische Theorien in der Kulturanthropologie und Geschichtswissenschaft
  • Dekolonisierung von Bildung


  • Universitäre Ausbildung

    2000 - Magister Artium in der Ethnologie, Kunstgeschichte und Gender Studies an der Humboldt-Universität und Freien Universität, Berlin

    1997-2000 - Studium der Ethnologie, Kunstgeschichte und Gender Studies an der Humboldt-Universität und Freie Universität, Berlin

    1996-1997 - Studium der Ethnologie, Kunstgeschichte und Gender Studies an der University of Washington - Graduate College, Seattle, USA

    1993-1996 - Studium der Ethnologie und Kunstgeschichte an der Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg

  • Mitgliedschaften und Ämter

    Seit 2021 - Mitglied der Caribbean Philosophical Association

    Seit 2021 - Mitglied des Allgemeinen Beirats der Braunschweigischen Stiftung

    Seit 2019 - Mitglied des Verwaltungsausschusses und Repräsentantin des Management Committees der COST-Aktion "European Forum for Advanced Practices" im Rahmen der European Cooperation in Science and Technology der EU-Förderlinie Horizon 2020

    Seit 2018 - Kuratoriumsmitglied der Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel

    Von 2017-2021 - Mitglied des Verwaltungsausschusses des Staatstheaters Braunschweig

    Seit 2006 - Mitglied des International Council of Museums


  • SoSe 2022 - Slave Narratives - Eine kubanische Fallstudie

    Esteban Montejo war ein entflohener Versklavter, der sich viele Jahre, bis zur Abschaffung der Sklaverei in 1886, in den gebirgigen Wäldern Zentralkubas versteckt hielt. Danach lebte er unter harten Bedingungen der Lohnarbeit auf den dortigen Zuckerplantagen. Während des dritten kubanischen Unabhängigkeitskrieges von 1895-1898 schloss er sich der Befreiungsarmee an und kämpfte unter der Führung zweier prominenter afrokubanischer Generäle, Antonio Maceo und Quintín Banderas, gegen die Kolonialherrschaft Spaniens. In Biografía de un cimarrón erzählt Montejo von seinen Erlebnissen während dieser für die kubanische Nationenbildung prägenden Epoche.

    Mit der Methode des close readings werden wir der Stimme dieser Persönlichkeit nachspüren  und anhand seiner Biografie einige wichtige Ereignisse der kubanischen Geschichte der Sklaverei, der Postemanzipation und des Unabhängigkeitskampfes kennenlernen. Dabei werden wir die Debatte über die lateinamerikanische Testimonio-Literatur aufgreifen, in der über Wahrheitsgehalt und Authentizitätsanspruch gestritten wird, sowie historiographische Ansätze besprechen, die von der critical archival practice geprägt sind. Unsere Diskussionen werden von aktuellen Theoretiker*innen der critical race theory und African American Studies wie z.B. Saidiye Hartman begleitet.

  • SoSe 2022 - Scientific Racism and the Social Sciences in Latin America

    One of the darkest legacies of the late 19th century was the advent of scientific racism – the attempt to use the methods of the natural sciences in order to justify preexisting racial biases, stereotypes and hierarchies. This manifested in the form of biometrics (attempting to measure bodies and populations), eugenics (misappropriating pre- and post-Darwinian theories of evolution to advocate for selective breeding) and various other abuses of the social sciences, especially in the fields of anthropology and criminology. 

    The forms and effects of scientific racism in Latin America are particularly complex given the legacy of colonialism. These societies are shaped by slavery and genocide, as well as post-liberation processes of modern nationbuilding in which discourses of race and mestizaje were central. Hence, scientific racism in Latin America operated in ways quite different from its European forms yet remained heavily indebted to them.

    In this seminar, we will engage in comparative analysis of the effects of scientific racism in different Latin American countries and across various fields, focussing on the first half of the 20th century, in particular the Cuban context. Scientists working in such diverse fields as anthropology, biology, criminology, legal studies, medical science and literary studies collaborated as social actors and public intellectuals in the so-called social advancement of the body politic. The impact which scientific theories can have in times of social crisis, bringing about social justice or perpetuating inequality, is one of the many issues we will discuss, a topic of great importance also today.

  • WiSe 2021/22 - Afrocubanismo and Transatlantic Exchange in the 1920s-1950s

    The artistic movement of Afrocubanismo in the late 1920s and 1930s was central to debates on the Cuban nation and questions of inclusion and exclusion. An unprecedented interest in Afro-Cuban forms of expression emerged in this period, especially in the fields of literature, music and the visual arts. These cultural forms were seen to express what one of its most prominent advocates, Fernando Ortiz, defined as “Cubanidad”, the essence of Cubanness that was to unite the island. However, the celebration of Afro-Cuban cultural forms was fraught with ambivalence and contradictions, as racist discourses permeated most of the writings on Afrocubanismo published in magazines such as Estudios Afrocubanos.

    Afrocubanismo was a movement with wide-ranging networks in the transatlantic world, most significantly with artists and intellectuals of the Harlem Renaissance in New York. This seminar will deal with the cultural movement and its political implications, both in the context of Cuban republican nation building and the transnational dialogues it sparked on black culture and identity.

  • WiSe 2021/22 - Republican Cuba from 1902-1959

    After the end of the so-called Spanish-American war in Cuba and formal independence, Cuba sought to become a modern nation. However, a series of occupations by the U.S. military strongly limited its possibilities of self-determination. The Republic of Cuba was founded in 1902 after the end of the first U.S. occupation, but the U.S. continued to exert power and influence over the island, both through further military occupations and through other forms of interventions into the political and economic realm (Platt Amendment, Cuban-American Treaty of Relations, etc.). Cuba’s national discourse of the “raceless nation”, developed during the war for independence by figures such as José Martí, clashed with the political reality of race-based segregation and widespread discrimination.

    This seminar traces the historical developments of the new Republic until the revolution led by Fidel Castro in 1959, its discourses on the raceless nation and the discriminatory practices that were put in place by the U.S. forces in conjunction with the Cuban elite. It will cover central events and periods such as the 1912 massacre of Afro-Cubans, the revolution of 1933, the coup staged by Fulgencia Batista in 1952 and the ensuing military dictatorship which was overthrown in the Cuban revolution of 1959.

  • SoSe 2021 - Colonial History and Postcolonial Theory

    This seminar aims to give an overview over the work of central authors of postcolonial theory as they have reflected on colonial histories and their aftermath. Beginning with 20th century classics by authors such as Franz Fanon and Aimé Césaire, we will look at works which have shaped the postcolonial debates of the 20th and 21st century. Influential concepts of postcolonial theory such as "créolité", "mimicry", "orientalism" and "subalternity" will be analyzed alongside contemporary critiques of these terms and the introduction of others such as, for example, "decoloniality".

    While a large body of recognized work within the field originated in former English or French colonies, significant contributions to the debates have also been made from the viewpoint of Latin America. As these works are becoming more widely acknowledged, the historic specificities of coloniality in the Americas and their relevance to postcolonial theory become apparent. Indigenous scholars have added further perspectives to the debates, revealing the Eurocentric underpinnings of some of the theoretical approaches. The seminar attempts to cover this expanding field of research by focusing on some of its core concepts, reflecting them through the lens of a diversity of positions.

  • SoSe 2021 - Fact and Fiction in Historical and Anthropological Writing

    The idea that narrative form is central to Cultural Anthropology and History sparked pivotal debates in the 1980s. Influenced by poststructuralist approaches to linguistic and literary theory, anthropologists and historians began to look at their own textual productions in terms of authorship, difference and the limits of representation. Anthropologists questioned their position as neutral observers in the field, while historians examined their perspectives as objective researchers in the archive. The European subject in its relation to the "Other" became a central element of their analyses. Anthropological and historical writings were shown often to be reliant on literary modes of representation as a means of persuasion.

    In this seminar, some of the key authors of this debate, including the anthropologist George Marcus, the literary scholar Stephen Greenblatt and the historian Hayden White, and their relevance for today's scholars in these fields will be analyzed. Furthermore, experimental forms of writings which have emerged in response will be discussed.

    While the self-reflexivity of these discussions showed the limits of dominant modernist paradigms in the humanities, they tended to emphasize critique rather than focusing on underrepresented subjects and populations. Attending to local and historical particularities, this seminar will also attempt to give room to voices of Indigenous peoples, especially in the Americas, as well as representations of slavery in the Atlantic world in anthropological and historical writings.