Alumni Fellow

Mag. Dr Martina Kopf

Alumni Fellows

Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research
Schifferstraße 44
47059 Duisburg

Tel: +49 (0)203 379-5230
Fax: +49 (0)203 379-5276
E-mail: kopf@spam


Dr Martina Kopf joins Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research as a Fellow. She conducts her research in Research Unit 2 “Global Cultural Conflicts and Transcultural Cooperation” in September 2015.

Research Project at the Centre

Developing Africa in Colonial and Postcolonial Imaginations

"Development" - as a political and economic concept - has shaped the global order from 20th-century to the present day. Africa is the continent that was and is most strongly associated with development as a historically new way to measure, to plan, to control and to manage social and economic change. Since the first half of the 20th century African societies are - in the formal colonialism and since then - faced with a high degree of interventions in social, cultural and economic processes that are recognized and legitimized by the terms "development" and "cooperation."
This project is approaching the history of "development" in the area East Africa by the tales and stories that connect to it. It explores narratives of development in literature and film, and examines how popular narrative worlds interact with institutional discourses of development. How are concepts and practices of development culturally represented? How is “development" presented as practice and ideology, if we look at it through narratives that are created in literature and art? What change has gone through thinking about development from colonial times to the present? The regional focus is on Kenya, the corpus contains stories from and about Kenya in different media cultures from 1920 to the present.

Research Interests

  • African literatures and cultures
  • Theoretical and methodological approaches to reading fiction as a source of knowledge
  • Reception of 20th century colonialism in European and African writing
  • History of "development" as a key concept of global relations
  • Literature and trauma
  • Narrative witnessing and ethics of representation
  • Representations of gender and feminist theory

Current Projects

  • Narratives of development in East African media cultures
  • Ambiguous encounters – Life writing of European and African women in colonial and missionary education (1920-1940)


2012-2014 University of Vienna
Department of African Studies, Department of Development Studies
2009-2012 University of Vienna
Department of African Studies, Project title "Colonial concepts of development in Africa, 1920-1960"
Post-doc Fellow
2004-2009 Südwind Agentur, Austria
Südwind - Magazin für internationale Politik, Kultur und Entwicklung
2002-2009 University of Vienna
Department of African Studies
External Lecturer
1998-2004 University of Vienna
Department of African Studies
Doctoral programme in African literatures
1998-2002 Milena Verlag, Vienna
Finances, Sales and Marketing

Selected Publications

Kopf, Martina (with Joseph M. Hodge and Gerald Hödl) (Eds.) (2014). Developing Africa: Concepts and Practices in Twentieth-Century Colonialism, Manchester: Manchester University Press

Kopf, Martina (2014). Developing Africa in the Colonial Imagination: European and African Narrative Writing of the Interwar Period, in Joseph M. Hodge, Gerald Hödl and Martina Kopf (eds), Developing Africa: Concepts and Practices in Twentieth-Century Colonialism,. Manchester: Manchester University Press

Kopf Martina (2012). 'The Ethics of Fiction. African Writers on the Genocide in Rwanda', in Journal of Literary Theory (6/1): 65–82

Kopf Martina (2012). Narratives of a wounded time: Yvonne Vera’s poetics of trauma, in J. K. S. Makokha, John Obiero Ogone and Russell West-Pavlov (eds), Style in African Literature: Essays on Literary Stylistics and Narrative Styles, Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 91–110

Kopf Martina (2009). Trauma, Narrative, and the Art of Witnessing, in Birgit Hähnel and Melanie Ulz (eds), Slavery in Art and Literature: Approaches to Trauma, Memory and Visuality, Berlin: Frank & Timme, 41–58

Kopf Martina (2008). Kunst global - Ein Raum, in dem vieles möglich ist, in Südwind Magazin 12/2008

Kopf Martina (2007). “If you think because you’re educated …” A reading of Dambudzo Marechera’s “House of Hunger”, in Thomas Böhler and Clemens Sedmak (eds), Perspectives in Poverty Alleviation, Wien; Berlin: LIT Verlag, 9–15

Kopf Martina (ed.) (2006). Sexuality and Power in African Literature, Special Issue of Stichproben – Vienna Journal of African Studies 6/11

Kopf Martina (2005). Trauma und Literatur: Das Nicht-Erzählbare erzählen – Assia Djebar und Yvonne Vera, Frankfurt a. M.: Brandes und Apsel

Teaching Responsibilities

  • Since 2002: around 30 courses and seminars on different levels in bachelor, master and diploma programs in African Studies, Development Studies, Cultural Studies and Gender Studies at the University of Vienna
  • 2009–2014: co-organisation of the section African literatures at the Department of African Studies, University of Vienna

Expertise and Consulting Work

  • Editorial board of Stichproben - Vienna Journal of African Studies, University of Vienna
  • 2012: Expert reader for PhD thesis „Representations of Troubled Childhoods in Selected Post-1990 African Fiction in English“ by Edgar Fred Nabutanyi, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Since 2007: Supervision of diploma and master theses and examiner in diploma and master exams at the Department of African Studies and at the Department of Development Studies, University of Vienna

Seminars and Conferences

  • "Reading African fiction between local knowledge and universal significance", Appreciating Local Knowledge, International Conference, University of Salzburg, Centre of Ethics and Poverty Research, November 2013
  • "Wer bezahlt uns für unsere Arbeit in der Schule? Koloniale Entwicklung in Afrika, Gender und die Handlungsmacht von Frauen", Feminist Approaches to Development - Critical Perspectives / Political Interventions / Global Challenges, Lecture Series, University of Vienna, Department of Development Studies, May 2013
  • "Entwicklung denken – zwischen postkolonialer Analyse und kolonialer Ideologie", Keynote lecture, Studientag der Koordinierungsstelle der Österreichischen Bischofskonferenz für Internationale Entwicklung und Mission, Vöcklabruck, Austria, March 2012
  • „Knowledge and Development in Late Colonialism“, Conference panel at AEGIS/ECAS, Uppsala, Sweden, June 2011
  • „Developing Africa: Development Discourse(s) in Late Colonialism“, International Conference, with Gerald Hödl, University of Vienna, January 2011
  • „From Colonial Service to Development Work – Changing Structures and Motives of European Foreign Assignments in Africa“, Panel at the Conference of the African Studies Association in Germany, with Gerald Hödl, Mainz, April 2010
  • "Development discourse in French colonial literature", Annual Meeting of the French Colonial Historical Society, Université Paris 8, June 2010
  • "Writing and reading literature as form of empathic witnessing", AEGIS/ECAS, Leiden, Netherlands, July 2007
  • "Trauma, Narrative and the Art of Witnessing", Keynote lecture at "Slavery in Contemporary Art", Interdisciplinary Conference on Trauma, Memory and Visuality. University of Trier, Germany, October 2006
  • "Creative writing in the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda", Third international and interdisciplinary Trauma Research Net Conference, St. Moritz, Switzerland, September 2006
  • "Writing Poverty and the Troubles of Representation", International Workshop of the Poverty Research Group, Austrian Research Association. University of Salzburg, October 2005


  • Since 2011: Member of EACLAS (European Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies)
  • 2010-2014: Board member of the Südwind Forschungsinstitut, Vienna
  • Since 2009: Editorial board of Stichproben - Vienna Journal of African Studies
  • 2011-2012: Member of the African Studies Association, USA (ASA)
  • 1998-2004: Board member of Milena Verlag - Verein zur Förderung von Literatur und Wissenschaft für Frauen, Vienna, Austria


  • 2009–2013: Research project "Colonial Concepts of Development" funded by the Austrian Science Funds (FWF). Head of project: Univ. Prof. Walter Schicho. Project Design: Gerald Hödl, Martina Kopf, Walter Schicho. The project included fully financed research stays in Paris, London and Dakar for library and archival research
  • 2005: Grants awarded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture and the Faculty of Philological and Cultural Studies, University of Vienna, for the publication of the monography 'Trauma und Literatur'
  • 2004: Award of the Dr. Maria Schaumayer Foundation (Austria) for the doctoral thesis 'Heilende Erzählungen'

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