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Germany and the Black Diaspora

Germany and the Black Diaspora: Points of Contact, 1250-1914

Mischa Honeck
Martin Klimke
Anne Kuhlmann
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 262
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  • Book Info
    Germany and the Black Diaspora
    Book Description:

    The rich history of encounters prior to World War I between people from German-speaking parts of Europe and people of African descent has gone largely unnoticed in the historical literature-not least because Germany became a nation and engaged in colonization much later than other European nations. This volume presents intersections of Black and German history over eight centuries while mapping continuities and ruptures in Germans' perceptions of Blacks. Juxtaposing these intersections demonstrates that negative German perceptions of Blackness proceeded from nineteenth-century racial theories, and that earlier constructions of "race" were far more differentiated. The contributors present a wide range of Black-German encounters, from representations of Black saints in religious medieval art to Black Hessians fighting in the American Revolutionary War, from Cameroonian children being educated in Germany to African American agriculturalists in Germany's protectorate, Togoland. Each chapter probes individual and collective responses to these intercultural points of contact.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-954-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-ix)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. x-x)
    Mischa Honeck, Martin Klimke and Anne Kuhlmann
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)
    Mischa Honeck, Martin Klimke and Anne Kuhlmann

    For more than ten years now, visitors to the German Historical Museum in Berlin have paused in amazement before a painting unlike any other in the museum’s collection. It depicts a man in Prussian military uniform, impeccably dressed, his arm around a red-haired young woman resting happily in his embrace. This portrait of two lovers was created by the German artist Emil Doerstling in 1890 during the heyday of the Wilhelminean Empire. In the same year, the recently enthroned Wilhelm II drove Chancellor Otto von Bismarck from office, and the Germans yielded the island colony of Zanzibar to the British...

  6. Part I. Saints and Slaves, Moors and Hessians

    • Chapter One The Calenberg Altarpiece: Black African Christians in Renaissance Germany
      (pp. 21-37)
      Paul H. D. Kaplan

      During the reign of Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen (1220–50), people of black African descent had begun to appear in German-speaking lands, and it did not take long for German artists—perhaps encouraged by Frederick’s display of his black African retainers—to start creating images of people of color.¹ While Frederick’s black subjects were evidently Muslims, drawn from an exiled colony of Sicilians established by the Holy Roman Emperor at Lucera in Apulia, and the most direct depiction of blacks showing fealty to Frederick—an extraordinary fresco from the 1230s in a tower adjoining the monastery of S. Zeno...

    • Chapter Two The Black Diaspora in Europe in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries, with Special Reference to German-speaking Areas
      (pp. 38-56)
      Kate Lowe

      The topic of the black diaspora in Germany is timely and important, raising a whole host of questions that can as yet be formulated but not satisfactorily answered. This is particularly the case in the initial period of the diaspora in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, after black slaves were brought to southern Europe from the west coast of Africa in significant numbers from the 1440s onward. These include the most basic question of how the history of the black diaspora in German-speaking areas fits in with what is known of the trajectory of the black diaspora in southern Europe,...

    • Chapter Three Ambiguous Duty: Black Servants at German Ancien Régime Courts
      (pp. 57-73)
      Anne Kuhlmann

      From the very emergence of modern national historiography, European historical memory has excluded or marginalized peoples of different ethnocultural, religious, and other groupings in past European societies.¹ Black Africans were part of these societies, but only now have they become a topic of general interest. Owing to the work of pioneering black European studies authors like Hans Werner Debrunner, Allison Blakely, Peter Martin, and others,² black Africans and their descendants have now been attested in various, and not always marginal, positions in northern, central, and eastern Europe: as seamen, missionaries, musicians, servants, members of guilds, and in lower social positions,...

    • Chapter Four Real and Imagined Africans in Baroque Court Divertissements
      (pp. 74-91)
      Rashid-S. Pegah

      For centuries black Africans were a distinctive part of European court culture. Early evidence of their presence can be found in the cosmopolitan court of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen (1194–1250), the German king, Roman emperor (from 1220), and successor of the Norman kings in Sicily. His court, a center of intellectual exchange in his time, shows black Africans in an array of positions that would later recur in Renaissance and Baroque court culture. Frederick, born of a Norman mother and a German father, was raised in Sicily and later founded the University of Naples and the medical school of...

    • Chapter Five From American Slaves to Hessian Subjects: Silenced Black Narratives of the American Revolution
      (pp. 92-112)
      Maria I. Diedrich

      29 February 1788 was a day of jubilation for Kassel’s¹ garrison: Landgrave Wilhelm IX was visiting his troops. As an expression of his special bond with his soldiers, he deigned to serve as godfather at a twenty-four-year-old tambour’s baptism—a rare mark of favor, indeed. The garrison church book records the tambour’s original name as Moritz Moses. He was renamed Wilhelm, after his powerful godfather, in whose prestigiousRegiment du Corpshe served.²

      Only one day before this spectacular adult baptism, the garrison church book registers yet another baptism: this time for a more typical candidate, a baby girl christened...

  7. Part II. From Enlightenment to Empire

    • Chapter Six The German Reception of African American Writers in the Long Nineteenth Century
      (pp. 115-133)
      Heike Paul

      Currently, there is a wide range of publications addressing the transatlantic dimension of American slavery and abolitionism as well as the African/African American diaspora in Europe. Although “transatlantic” in many of these Anglo-American–based projects still almost exclusively refers to contacts between the Americas and Britain, and rarely to those with the European mainland or Germany,¹ there is also a more sustained effort these days to include Germany in the scholarship of the black Atlantic.² These studies trace evidence of black life in Germany, engage with representations or omissions of black “alterity,” and scrutinize concepts of American and European “whiteness”...

    • Chapter Seven “On the Brain of the Negro”: Race, Abolitionism, and Friedrich Tiedemann’s Scientific Discourse on the African Diaspora
      (pp. 134-152)
      Jeannette Eileen Jones

      When the Royal Society of London published German scientist Friedrich Tiedemann’s paper “On the Brain of the Negro, Compared with That of the European and Orang-Outang” on 9 June 1836, it did so knowing that the professor’s findings were “at variance with the received opinions relative to the presumed inferiority of the Negro structure, both in the conformation and relative dimensions of the brain.” Tiedemann, professor of anatomy and physiology at Heidelberg University and foreign member of the Royal Society, enjoyed a reputation as a renowned scientist and physician, known in European intellectual circles as “the great physiologist of Heidelberg.”...

    • Chapter Eight Liberating Sojourns? African American Travelers in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Germany
      (pp. 153-168)
      Mischa Honeck

      Explorations of nineteenth-century transatlantic mobility have traditionally focused on the shiploads of impoverished and discontented Europeans departing for America in pursuit of new opportunities and a better life. Most of these people in transit left their country to escape grinding economic hardship; others to worship as they pleased; others because their political views clashed with those of the ruling elites. Whatever their reasons for shouldering the burdens of overseas travel, the immigrants from the Old World are located at the core of a master narrative that conceptualizes the early modern and modern Atlantic world as dominated by a westward current...

    • Chapter Nine Global Proletarians, Uncle Toms, and Native Savages: Popular German Race Science in the Emancipation Era
      (pp. 169-186)
      Bradley Naranch

      When it came to matters of race, slavery, and freedom, Friedrich Ratzel wrote in an 1869 article that appeared in the popular scientific journalGlobusthat most of his fellow Germans were easily led astray.¹ Decades of abolitionist activism and the recent events of the American Civil War had convinced many observers of the immorality of human bondage. Ratzel (1844–1904), who received his doctorate in zoology the previous year and was working as a freelance journalist, was concerned that large sectors of the reading public lacked the basic awareness of new scientific theories concerning race, climate, and culture needed...

    • Chapter Ten We Shall Make Farmers of Them Yet: Tuskegee’s Uplift Ideology in German Togoland
      (pp. 187-212)
      Kendahl L. Radcliffe

      In 1900, a group of nine individuals made up of Tuskegee Institute students, staff, and graduates were invited by the Kolonial Wirtschaftliches Komitee to develop cotton plantations in the German colony of Togo.¹ Tuskegee Institute’s participation in this colonial venture occurred at a time when European and American imperial power seemed unchallengeable to those who suffered under its weight. Yet, despite the constraints of the systems of American segregation and European colonialism, the Tuskegee personnel sought to promote pan-African solidarity and development through the cotton-growing project.

      The historical transatlantic triangle of the Tuskegee Institute, German Togo, and Germany is important...

    • Chapter Eleven Education and Migration: Cameroonian Schoolchildren and Apprentices in Germany, 1884–1914
      (pp. 213-230)
      Robbie Aitken

      In the Holthausen cemetery in Mülheim on the Ruhr in northern Westphalia, one particular gravestone attracts attention for being somewhat unusual (see figure 11.1). The words on the headstone read: “Rest in peace. Here lies Prince Equalla Deido, born 27 April 1876 in Douala, Cameroon, died 1 May 1891 in Holthausen.”¹ This grave, one of the few visible reminders of Germany’s colonial past, is testimony to an increasing presence of African colonial subjects in Germany at the turn of the twentieth century.

      Equalla Deido was one of several thousand men and women of African descent from various regions of sub-Saharan...

  8. Afterword. Africans in Europe: New Perspectives
    (pp. 231-240)
    Dirk Hoerder

    The novelty of multifaceted research on Africans—on their presence in Europe, in “black studies” once skin color becomes a marker, and on Africans in Germanspeaking central Europe, in particular—permits scholars to follow their own inclinations, to be exploratory, and perhaps to speculate. This liberal climate has fostered the development of new perspectives and a spatial analysis of networks of African mobility—whether forced or free. However, even under such auspicious conditions, scholars are bound by unspoken assumptions that they have been socialized to hold from infancy and that are reinforced by disguised undertones in prevailing discourses and conceptualizations....

  9. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 241-248)
  10. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 249-251)
  11. Index
    (pp. 252-260)