Germany’s Colonial Pasts is a wide-ranging study of German colonialism and its legacies. Inspired by Susanne Zantop’s landmark book Colonial Fantasies, and extending her analyses there, this volume offers new research by scholars from Europe, Africa, and the United States. It also commemorates Zantop’s distinguished life and career (1945–2001).
Some essays in this volume focus on Germany’s formal colonial empire in Africa and the Pacific between 1884 and 1914, while others present material from earlier or later periods such as German emigration before 1884 and colonial discourse in German-ruled Polish lands. Several essays examine Germany’s postcolonial era, a complex period that includes the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany with its renewed colonial obsessions, and the post-1945 era. Particular areas of emphasis include the relationship of anti-Semitism to colonial racism; respectability, sexuality, and cultural hierarchies in the formal empire; Nazi representations of colonialism; and contemporary perceptions of race. The volume’s disciplinary reach extends to musicology, religious studies, film, and tourism studies as well as literary analysis and history. These essays demonstrate why modern Germany must confront its colonial and postcolonial pasts, and how those pasts continue to shape the German cultural imagination.