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The Servants of Empire: Sponsored German Women’s Colonization in Southwest Africa, 1896-1945

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The Servants of Empire

Sponsored German Women’s Colonization in Southwest Africa, 1896-1945

K. Molly O'Donnell

422 pages, 12 figures, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-80073-799-0 $145.00/£107.00 / Hb / Not Yet Published (December 2022)

eISBN 978-1-80073-784-6 eBook Not Yet Published

View CartYour country: - edit  Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“O’Donnell’s thoroughly researched book offers a wealth of insights into the unstable, gendered, classed, and racialized dynamics governing settler society in German Southwest Africa. With welcome attention to paranoia and panic, gossip and rumour, The Servants of Empire reveals institutionalized regimes of violence and coercion aimed at Africans and intrusive regimes of internal boundary-drawing focused on the vulnerability of white German women’s bodies.” • Jeff Bowersox, University College London


Capturing the history of thousands of German women recruited to colonize Southwest Africa between the 1890s and 1940s, The Servants of Empire engages a radical nationalist history of German efforts to prevent interracial unions and establish permanent white settlement. As colonists, sponsored women often supported or even helped perpetrate extreme patterns of racist violence and vigilantism in Namibia, which linked them inextricably to marked atrocities such as the Herero and Nama Genocides. Navigating the intersections of German attitudes toward race, class, ethnicity, gender, and nation, this revealing study traces the German settler community’s gossip and rumors to uncover how the many poor white female settlers in Southwest Africa disrupted bourgeois race and gender relations and contributed to the trenchant sexual and racial violence in the territory.

K. Molly O’Donnell is Professor of History and Director of Humanities honors at William Paterson University of New Jersey. She is the chief editor of The Heimat Abroad: The Boundaries of Germanness (2005) with Renate Bridenthal and Nancy Reagin.

Subject: Colonial HistoryHistory: 20th Century to Present
Area: GermanyAfrica


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