Jochen Lingelbach


Jochen Lingelbach is a member of the research training group “Critical Junctures of Globalization”. He studied Geography and African Studies at the Universities of Leipzig and Dar es Salaam. During his studies he became interested in colonial history and its traces in the urban landscapes of Leipzig and Dar es Salaam. His interest in the colonial history of East Africa and its global entanglements with other historical processes lead him to the work on his current PhD-research project.

Current Research Project

Polish refugees in colonial Africa (ca. 1942-1950). Effects of the presence of European war refugees on the societies of the British colonies in southern and eastern Africa


From 1942 to 1950 there were about 20,000 Polish refugees living in the British colonies in eastern and southern Africa. They were deported from eastern Poland to Soviet labor camps in 1939, released in 1941 and then brought via Persia to refugee settlements in Africa. In Uganda and Tanganyika they represented for some time the largest group of Whites. For an understanding of the internal dynamics of colonial societies that where based on hierarchies of race these refugees provide an interesting example. On the one hand, they belonged to the privileged group of Whites, on the other hand they were poor war refugees and mainly women and children. It thus emerges a fascinating situation, where different social categorizations based on race, gender, nationality and class intertwine. To analyze this episode, the refugee settlements and their surroundings are understood as Portals of globalization, where transnational flows and their regulation come together. The colonial authorities had to deal with the incoming refugees whose sheer existence threatened to undermine the societal order. The research is therefore focusing on the interaction between the Polish refugees and the various actors of the hosting colonial societies. The central question is what have been the effects of the interactions onto these societies. How have the Polish refugees been seen and categorized by the colonial administration? How did they understand themselves in the colonial context and how were they seen by members of the colonized African societies?

Research Interests

  • » Colonial history
  • » East African history
  • » Postcolonial theories
  • » Refugee and migration studies
  • » Critical Whiteness studies
  • » Global history

Field Research

2014 Archival Research (London, United Kingdom)
2014 Archival Research (Nairobi, Kenya)
2013 Archival Research (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) 

Narrative Interviews (Tanzania and Uganda)
2012 Archival Research (London, United Kingdom)
2009 Narrative Interviews (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)


2010Diplom, Geography
(University of Leipzig, Germany)

Teaching & Languages

Winter Semester
Seminar, "Migration History in Global Perspective" (University of Leipzig, Germany)
Winter Semester 2008/2009 Tutorial, “Leipzig kolonial” (University of Leipzig, Germany)


German  (mother tongue)
English (advanced: speaking, writing, comprehension)
Kiswahili  (advanced: speaking, writing, comprehension)
French   (intermediate: speaking, writing, comprehension)
Polish  (intermediate: speaking, writing, comprehension)

Employment & Professional Membership

2009 - 2011Project coordinator, German-Tanzanian artist exchange project “deconstructing africa/europe” (Hamburg, Berlin, Dar es Salaam)
2006Student research assistant
(Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research UFZ, Leipzig)

Awards and Fellowships

2007 - 2008DAAD Scholarship
(University Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

Conferences and Workshops

5 July 2013Conference: “Gender, the Refugee and Displacement (1900-1950)” (Newcastle University, UK)

Presented Paper:
“'An incredible pool of femininity' - Race, Gender and Polish refugees in British colonial East Africa ”
8 June 2013Workshop: Portals of Globalization (University of Leipzig, Germany)

Presented Paper:
“Refugee Camps as forgotten Portals of Globalization. World War Two refugees in British colonial Eastern Africa ”
13 May 2013Global History Workshop (Humboldt University Berlin, Germany)

Presented Paper:
“Polish refugees in British colonial Africa – First findings from a field research in Tanzania and Uganda ”


Lingelbach, Jochen. Polish Refugees in Colonial Eastern A frica (1942–50): The Use of European Diaspora Sources for the Writing of African Colonial History. In: Sources and Methods for African History and Culture. Essays in Honour of Adam Jones, Castryck, Gerd; Strickrodt, Silke; Werthmann, Katja (ed.) (Leipzig: Universitätsverlag, 2016): 521-538.
Review of Welt der Lager. Zur "Erfolgsgeschichte" einer Institution by Geiner, Bettina; Kramer, Alan (ed.). Comparativ 25/3 (2015), 118-121
Lingelbach , Jochen. Oyster Bay – eine koloniale Heterotopie in Ostafrika und ihre postkoloniale  Bedeutung, (Leipzig: ULPA – Leipziger Arbeiten zur Geschichte und Kultur in Afrika Nr. 18, 2011).
Lingelbach, Jochen. „War da was? Spuren des Kolonialismus in Leipzig.“ In Kolonialismus hierzulande, van der Heyden, Ulrich; Joachim Zeller (ed.), (Erfurt: Sutton, 2008): 53-60.
Lingelbach, Jochen. “Mutige Großeltern. In Tansania wird verstärkt an den Maji Maji-Krieg erinnert.” iz3w 307 (2008).