German Colonialism Revisited: African, Asian and Oceanic Experiences ed. by Nina Berman, Klaus Mühlhahn, Patrice Nganang (review)
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German Colonialism Revisited: African, Asian and Oceanic Experiences.
Edited by Nina Berman, Klaus Mühlhahn, and Patrice Nganang. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2014. 356pages + 11 b/w illustrations. $75.00.

German Colonialism Revisited is an eclectic multidisciplinary mix of essays by scholars from the United States, Germany, Great Britain, Denmark, China, and Australia on various aspects of German colonialism. In their comprehensive introduction, the editors outline their aim: to foreground the kinds of colonial encounters which have “not received sufficient consideration in scholarship on German colonialism” (2). The volume is divided into three parts: “Interactions,” which deals with encounters between German colonisers or colonial authorities and colonised groups; “Resistance,” which is concerned with anti-colonial activities and nationalist agendas in the colonies and expatriate communities; and “Remembering and Rethinking,” which focuses on contemporary responses to German colonialism in literature and the arts.

The first part, “Interactions,” consists of seven essays. Itohan I. Osayimwese’s essay looks at the way the Banum visual culture in Western Cameroon changed during the colonial period, due to factors such as the influence of the architecture of the Basel Mission Society on buildings commissioned during Njoya’s reign. Germain Nyada shows how the Mongo Ewondo dialect arose out of contacts during the German era in the Cameroons. Daniel J. Walther demonstrates how German colonial intervention in the spread of sexually transmitted diseases had only a limited effect, as prostitution—particularly in German Africa—was often seen as a way for women to accumulate wealth to support themselves or acquire land or livestock. Michael Pesek discusses the use made by the German African military of temporarily hired mercenaries known as the “ruga-ruga,” which opened up opportunities for young African men; similarly, Michelle Moyd argues that the African soldiers (“askari”) who helped [End Page 712] the Germans in the conquest of German East Africa were not collaborators but “intermediaries,” as they helped German colonial interests, but also opened up new opportunities for East Africans to “improve their access to status, wealth, and security” (102). Hanan Sabea discusses the importance of sisal plantations in German East Africa; sisal, used for twine, accounted for 30% of exports from German East Africa by 1913 and continued as a major export for most of the twentieth century. Gabriele Richter examines the role of Chief Zake in the alliance he forged with the German missionary Christian Keyßer in the establishment of the Lutheran Mission Station in Sattelberg, Kaiser-Wilhelmsland (German New Guinea).

The second part, entitled in full “Resistance, Anti-colonial Activism, and the Rise of Nationalist Discourses,” contains six contributions, the first of which, by Andreas Steen, is also concerned with the Pacific, namely the differing German policies in New Guinea and Samoa on the recruitment of Chinese indentured labourers. Thoralf Klein then looks at the decolonisation process that affected the Basel Mission (Evangelische Missionsgesellschaft zu Basel) in China, which, in spite of its Swiss name, derived one third of its income and half of its China-based missionaries from the German state of Württemberg and came under Prussian protection from 1861. Jianjun Zhu writes about the revolutionists in the German “model colony” of Qingdao (Tsingtau), who established a public school to train revolutionary personnel as well as educate the young. B. Venkat Mani discusses the 1920 reminiscences of the Indian Orientalist Lala Har Dayal, who arrived in Berlin in 1915 and proceeded to Istanbul to plan a military attack against British India. Eva Bischoff investigates the complaint filed by the Berlin Mission Society with the German Colonial Office regarding the sentencing to death by Captain Ernst Nigmann of sixteen indigenous people in Iringa (German East Africa) for cannibalism, and finds that the local chief had accused these people of cannibalism in order to continue his power to persecute and kill alleged witches. Molly McCullers examines the rise of the “Otruppa” movement in South West Africa, in which Herero men, after the defeat of German troops in 1915, donned German uniforms and formed their own military, creating a strong Herero national identity.

The third part, “Remembering and Rethinking,” has four contributions, the first of which, by Dirk Göttsche, discusses...