Jun.-Prof. Dr. Julia Binter

Email: julia.binter@uni-bonn.de

I am a social anthropologist with a background in theatre, film, and media studies, specialising in material culture, critical museum and heritage studies. I have worked in numerous transdisciplinary settings, including art, historical and ethnological museums, and with a variety of stakeholders from academia, art, activism, and cultural heritage communities. A key focus of my academic and curatorial work is analysing the colonial entanglements of museums and their collections and to develop innovative ways of bringing the stakeholders’ diverse modes of knowledge formation with and about museum collections into dialogue. Moreover, I understand museums as a prominent and powerful form amongst many heritage practices. I therefore also study more broadly how people engage with things, understood as images, artefacts, bodies, and the environment, to relate to the past, create presents and envision possible futures.

In my previous research, I have analysed how heritage is negotiated in museums, film, theatre, visual arts, funerals and fashion in Nigeria, Namibia, Great Britain, and Germany, and how it is shaped by dynamic, historically grown political economic relations.

I strive to put postcolonial theory in practice and, consequently, my research not only reflects on cultural, political, and economic entanglements past and present, but also seeks to reshape them in collaborative film and exhibition projects.

I am currently co-leading the collaborative research, curation and restitution project Confronting Colonial Pasts, Envisioning Creative Futures on collections from Namibia at the Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin. Funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation, this project develops new, more equitable and sustainable ways of returning cultural goods from colonial contexts and reconnecting them with artists, scholars, communal knowledge keepers and creators and the wider public in Namibia.

Related to this, I am also co-leading the project Artistic Research and Communal Knowledge. Building Trust for a Better Future. Funded by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, this project brings together contemporary artists and communal knowledge keepers and creators to strengthen dialogue across urban-rural as well as generational divides in Namibia, plurifying the formation of knowledge with and about ‘cultural belongings’ from colonial contexts.

I am currently developing two lines of research:

The Heritage of Mission asks about the colonial entanglements and future affordances of missionary collections. In particular, it examines the impact of missionization on the body, ranging from changes in religious practices to clothing styles, gender norms, and healing practices.

The Heritage of Water takes the current global water crisis, ranging from extreme floods to drought, as a starting point to examine the relationships between people and water in global, comparative perspective.

Curriculum vitae

I studied social and cultural anthropology as well as theatre film and media studies at the University of Vienna and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. Supported by an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award and a Wiener-Anspach Doctoral Fellowship, I received my DPhil in Anthropology from the University of Oxford in 2020. I also trained as assistant curator in the Africa department of the Weltmuseum Wien from 2010 to 2013. In 2016/2017, I was curatorial fellow of the German Federal Cultural Foundation at the Kunsthalle Bremen, where I curated the exhibition ‘The Blind Spot. Bremen, Colonialism and Art’. From 2018 to 2023, I worked as research associate for postcolonial provenance research at the Ethnologisches Museum/ Zentralarchiv of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. I have been lecturing at the University of Vienna since 2009. In May 2023, I joined the University of Bonn as Argelander Professor for Critical Museum and Heritage Studies.


I am the co-founder of the transdisciplinary research network ‘Colonial Ports and Global History’ at The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH). I am also a member of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sozial- und Kulturanthropologie (DGSKA) and the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) and contribute to the AG Koloniale Provenienzen of the Arbeitskreis Provenienzforschung and the EASA Network Anthropology of History.


My research has been funded by the AHRC, the Fondation Wiener-Anspach, the Beit Fund, the Royal Historical Society, a Godfrey Lienhardt Travel Grant, a Caird Short-Term Research Fellowship, by the DFG, the German Federal Cultural Foundation, the Gerda Henkel Foundation and the Heinrich Böll Foundation.


Monographs, edited books and special journal issues

Binter, J.T.S., Howald, C., Labischinksi, J., Sporleder, B., Weber-Sinn, K. (eds.) (2022) Em II power II relations. A booklet on postcolonial provenance research in the permanent exhibitions of the Ethnologisches Museum and Museum für Asiatische Kunst at the Humboldt Forum. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

Binter, J.T.S., Howald, C., Labischinksi, J., Sporleder, B., Weber-Sinn, K. (eds.) (2021) macht II beziehungen. Ein Begleitheft zur postkolonialen Provenienzforschung in den Dauerausstellungen des Ethnologischen Museums und Museums für Asiatische Kunst im Humboldt Forum. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

Binter, J.T.S. (ed.) (2017) The Blind Spot. Bremen, Colonialism and Art. Reimer Verlag.

Binter, J.T.S. (ed.) (2017) Der Blinde Fleck. Bremen und die Kunst in der Kolonialzeit. Reimer Verlag.

Binter, J.T.S. (2009) We Shoot the World. Österreichische Dokumentarfilmer und die Globalisierung. LIT-Verlag.

Journal articles and book chapters

Binter, J.T.S. (forthcoming) ‘Towards Democratising the Formation of Knowledge. Collaboratively Researching Sensitive Collections from Namibia’ in Dilger, H., Göbel, B. von Poser, A. Schütze, S. (eds.), Collections as Relations. Belonging, Cultural Heritage, and Infrastructures of Knowing. London: Routledge.

Binter, J.T.S., Howald, C., Labischinksi, J., Weber-Sinn, K. (2024) ‘Postkoloniale Provenienzforschung im Ethnologischen Museum und Museum für Asiatische Kunst: Methoden und Ziele einer kooperativen Forschungspraxis’ in Tagungsband des Arbeitskreises Provenienzforschung.

Binter, J.T.S., Ha-Eiros, G. (2021) ‘Man kann die Zukunft nicht ohne Vergangenheit denken. Dialogische Reflexionen über das kooperative Forschungsprojekt ‘Confronting Colonial Pasts, Envisioning Creative Futures’ am Ethnologischen Museum Berlin’ in Lurz, B., Schlag, W., Wolkinger, T., et al. (eds.) Playbook Klimakultur. Strategien für einen nachhaltigen Kulturwandel, 39-42, Bundesministerium für europäische und internationale Angelegenheiten – Sektion für internationale Kulturangelegenheiten

Binter, J.T.S. (2020) ‘Becoming Imperial. The Politicization of the Gift in Atlantic Africa’ in Schorch, P., Saxer, M. (eds.) Material Relations. On Materiality and Connectivity in Anthropology and Beyond, 53-71, UCL Press,

Binter, J.T.S., Fine, J., Förster, L. (2020) ‘Historische Forschung und Kreative Praktiken. Ein Kooperationsprojekt zu Objekten aus Namibia im Ethnologischen Museum Berlin’, Provenienz und Forschung 2: 46-51.

Binter, J.T.S., Fine, J. (2020)‘Eure Konzepte versus meine Philosophie’ – Cynthia Schimmings künstlerische Auseinandersetzung mit den Sammlungen aus Namibia’Baessler-Archiv 66: 179-188

Binter, J.T.S. (2019) ‘Beyond Exhibiting the Experience of Empire? Challenging Chronotopes in the Museum’, Third Text 33 (4-5): 575-593.

Binter, J.T.S. (2017) ‘Blind Spots. Bremen’s Global Trade and Patronage in the Colonial Period’ in Binter, J.T.S. (ed.) The Blind Spot. Bremen Colonialism and Art, 10-27, Reimer Verlag.

Binter, J.T.S. (2017)‘Dream and Reality. The Collection of Japanese Woodcuts at the Kunsthalle Bremen’ in Binter, J.T.S. (ed.) The Blind Spot. Bremen Colonialism and Art, 41-43, Reimer Verlag.

Binter, J.T.S. (2017) ‘Encounters with the Other in Art’ in Binter, J.T.S. (ed.) The Blind Spot. Bremen Colonialism and Art, 72-85, Reimer Verlag.

Binter, J.T.S. (2017) ‘Imagination and Violence. Modern Artists and the Study of the Other’ in Binter, J.T.S. (ed.) The Blind Spot. Bremen Colonialism and Art, 86-97, Reimer Verlag.

Binter, J.T.S. (2017) ‘Returning the Gaze. Amrita Sher-Gil, Self-Portrait as Tahitian, 1934’ in Binter, J.T.S. (ed.) The Blind Spot. Bremen Colonialism and Art, 98-101, Reimer Verlag.

Binter, J.T.S. (2017) ‘The Art of Colonial Contact Zones’ in Binter, J.T.S. (ed.) The Blind Spot. Bremen Colonialism and Art, 117-119, Reimer Verlag.

Binter, J.T.S. (2017) ‘Global Claims and Wanderlust. Posters of the Northern German Lloyd and other Hanseatic Shipping Companies’, in Binter, J.T.S. (ed.) The Blind Spot. Bremen Colonialism and Art, 134-145, Reimer Verlag.

Binter, J.T.S. (2017) ‘Contemporary Perspectives on Bremen’s Colonial Heritage. Ngozi Schommers, (Un)Framed Narratives, 2017. Hew Locke, Cui Bono, 2017’ in Binter, J.T.S. (ed.) The Blind Spot. Bremen Colonialism and Art, 162-175, Reimer Verlag.

Binter, J.T.S. (2015) ‘Unruly Voices in the Museum. Multisensory engagement with disquieting histories’ in Bull, M., Back, L. (eds.) The Senses and Society9(2): 342-360, Reprinted in The Auditory Culture Reader, Bloomsbury.

Binter, J.T.S. (2014) ‘Vermittler zwischen Vergangenheit, Gegenwart und Zukunft. Ethnographische Museen im Spannungsfeld von Orten der Repräsentation und ‘glokalen’ Kontaktzonen’ in Zips, W., Wernhart, K. (eds.) Ethnohistorie. Rekonstruktion und Kulturkritik. Eine Einführung, Promedia Verlag.

Binter, J.T.S. (2014) ‘Jenseits von Österreich. Ferry Radax und die Fremde’ in Mörth, O. Hirt, I. and Vogt, G. (eds.) Ferry Radax. Vision, Utopie, Experiment, 246-255, Sonderzahl.

Binter, J.T.S. (2013) ‘Radioglaz and the Global City. Possibilities and Constraints of Experimental Montage’ in Willerslev, R., Suhr, C. (eds.) Transcultural Montage

Berghahn Books, 183-197.

Binter, J.T.S. (2011) ‘Globalization, Representation, and Postcolonial Critique. Austrian Documentary Film auteurs’ Take on Globalism’ in Belting, H. Birken, J. Buddensieg, A., Weibel, P. (eds.) Global Studies.Mapping Contemporary Art and Culture, 158-173, Hatje Cantz.

Exhibitions and Film Festivals(selection)

Confronting Colonial Pasts, Envisioning Creative Futures

Binter, J.T.S., Ha-Eiros, G.

Venue: Humboldt Forum

The Blind Spot. Bremen, Colonialism and Art

Duration: 2017

Curator: Binter, J.T.S.

Venue: Kunsthalle Bremen

New permanent galleries on colonialism, migration and history of science

Duration: 2010-2013

Curators: Augustat, C., Binter, J.T.S, Blumauer, R., Kuhnt-Saptodewo, J., Plankensteiner, B.

Venue: Weltmuseum Wien

Ethnocineca – Ethnographic and Documentary Filmfest Vienna

Duration: 2010

Curators: Binter, J.T.S. , Dietrich, M.C.

Venue: KosmosTheater