Devil's Handwriting: Precoloniality and the German Colonial State in Qingdao, Samoa, and Southwest Africa

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $31.80
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 20%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (8) from $31.80   
  • New (4) from $38.63   
  • Used (4) from $31.80   

Overview

Germany’s overseas colonial empire was relatively short lived, lasting from 1884 to 1918. During this period, dramatically different policies were enacted in the colonies: in Southwest Africa, German troops carried out a brutal slaughter of the Herero people; in Samoa, authorities pursued a paternalistic defense of native culture; in Qingdao, China, policy veered between harsh racism and cultural exchange.

Why did the same colonizing power act in such differing ways? In The Devil’s Handwriting, George Steinmetz tackles this question through a brilliant cross-cultural analysis of German colonialism, leading to a new conceptualization of the colonial state and postcolonial theory. Steinmetz uncovers the roots of colonial behavior in precolonial European ethnographies, where the Hereros were portrayed as cruel and inhuman, the Samoans were idealized as “noble savages,” and depictions of Chinese culture were mixed. The effects of status competition among colonial officials, colonizers’ identification with their subjects, and the different strategies of cooperation and resistance offered by the colonized are also scrutinized in this deeply nuanced and ambitious comparative history.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Barrington Moore Book Award (ASA)

"The wealth of detail and information synthesized here is remarkable, and the book as a whole goes a long way towards filling an inexplicable gap in the historical literature."

Canadian Journal of Sociology
The wealth of detail and information synthesized here is remarkable, and the book as a whole goes a long way towards filling an inexplicable gap in the historical literature.

— Gurminder K. Bhambra

International History Review
The book is thought-provoking, as it offers substantial evidence of the fact that colonial regimes were not uniform, but highly complex and heterogeneous. The study warrants much attention from scholars, especially as it is one of the few works on German colonial history that applies a comparative approach.

— Birthe Kundrus

Journal of World History
Steinmetz's study is pathbreaking. He demonstrates convincingly that a comparative approach to Germany's overseas possessions is possible and, more inmportantly, necessary, especially if one wants to understand more completely German colonialism with all its nuances, its continuities and discontinuities, its similarities and its differences.

— Daniel Walther

German History
Steinmetz's vast and detailed examination of 'native policy' in three very different German colonies provides a welcome intervention into long-standing and sometimes stale debates. He makes a convincing case that managing and stabilizing local populations . . . were the chief concern of the modern colonial state, and he proposes a flexible framework to help explain vast divergences in the treatment of colonial subjects.

— Jeff Bowersox

Ann Orloff

“Steinmetz brilliantly analyzes the forces shaping German colonial rule, again showing the fruitfulness of understanding states as culturally constituted and remaking our conceptions of modernity and tradition by enculturating the modern while politicizing the “traditional.” We see in detail how social science—power/knowledge—actually worked politically, as ethnographies informed the strategies of colonial political elites. He shows us the political import of categorization practices, tracing how colonial discourse and categorization of “natives” (including understandings of race and aboriginal nobility) affected colonial administrators’ strategies vis-à-vis their political subjects, critical to the disparate fates of colonial peoples in these different sites, and to nation- and state-building in the metropole.”

Canadian Journal of Sociology - Gurminder K. Bhambra

"The wealth of detail and information synthesized here is remarkable, and the book as a whole goes a long way towards filling an inexplicable gap in the historical literature."
International History Review - Birthe Kundrus

"The book is thought-provoking, as it offers substantial evidence of the fact that colonial regimes were not uniform, but highly complex and heterogeneous. The study warrants much attention from scholars, especially as it is one of the few works on German colonial history that applies a comparative approach."
Journal of World History - Daniel Walther

"Steinmetz's study is pathbreaking. He demonstrates convincingly that a comparative approach to Germany's overseas possessions is possible and, more inmportantly, necessary, especially if one wants to understand more completely German colonialism with all its nuances, its continuities and discontinuities, its similarities and its differences."
German History - Jeff Bowersox

"Steinmetz's vast and detailed examination of 'native policy' in three very different German colonies provides a welcome intervention into long-standing and sometimes stale debates. He makes a convincing case that managing and stabilizing local populations . . . were the chief concern of the modern colonial state, and he proposes a flexible framework to help explain vast divergences in the treatment of colonial subjects."
Choice

"The lengthy theoretical introduction offers a critical base for future scholarly debate on colonialism. . . . An essential addition to library collections on European colonialism."
Elizabeth A. Povinelli

The Devil’s Handwriting is a masterly study of the capacious nature of the colonial form. Comparing three twentieth- century German colonies, Steinmetz demonstrates with great acuity the multiple ways that German administrators and ethnographers deployed the rule of difference in the management of colonial populations. I know of no other study of the colonial state that combines such a breathtaking depth and breadth of archival analysis with such an acute sensibility of the play of difference within the rule of difference. The writing is open, engaging, personable, even as the material is, at times, devastating.”

John L. Comaroff

“A book of extraordinary erudition and theoretical acuity, The Devil’s Handwriting opens up an entirely new angle of vision on the colonial state, on its regimes of knowledge, its techniques of governance, its diverse historical determinations. Steinmetz’s comparative grasp of the colonial archive is astounding; with this volume he reframes the field of colonial studies tout court. A truly impressive achievement.”

Ralph A. Austen

“In this careful study of three very different cases within a short-lived and spatially limited overseas empire, George Steinmetz sheds brilliant new light on both the general nature of the colonial state and the outward projection of Germany’s exceptional path to modernity.”

Read More Show Less

Product Details

Meet the Author

George Steinmetz is professor of sociology and German studies at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Regulating the Social: The Welfare State and Local Politics in Imperial Germany, the editor of State/Culture: State Formation after the Colonial Turn and The Politics of Method in the Human Sciences: Positivism and its Epistemological Others, and codirector, with Michael Chanan, of the documentary film Detroit: Ruin of a City.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents


CONTENTS

List of Illustrations

Preface

Acknowledgements

Abbreviations

CHAPTER 1
 Introduction: Ethnography and the Colonial State
  Three Colonies
  Making Sense of Colonial Variations
  The Specificity of the Colonial State
  Precolonial Mimicry and the Central Role of Native Policy
  Toward an Explanation: The Colonial State as Social field
  Symbolic and Imaginary Identifications
  Resistance, Collaboration, and Infections of Native Policy by Its Addressees
  Imperial Germany and the German Empire

PART ONE: SOUTH WEST AFRICA

CHAPTER 2
  "A World Composed Almost Entirely of Contradictions": Southwest Africans in German Eyes, before Colonialism
  Precolonial and Protocolonial Imagery of Southwest Africans
  The Khoikhoi: The Path to Precolonial Mimicry
  The Rehoboth Basters: Pure Intermediacy
  The Ovaherero: A Radically Simplified Ethnographic Discourse
  Toward Colonialism

CHAPTER 3
  From Native Policy to Genocide to Eugenics: German Southwest Africa
  Accessing the Inaccessible
  The Germans and the Witbooi People
  "Rivers of Blood and Rivers of Money": Germans and Ovaherero
  Collaboration and the Rule of Difference: The Reheboth Basters under German Rule
  Conclusion

PART TWO: SAMOA

CHAPTER 4
  "A Foreign Race That All Travelers Have Agreed to be the Most Engaging": The Creation of the Samoan Noble savage, by way of Tahiti
  The Idea of Polynesian Noble Savagery
  Europeans on Polynesia in the Wake of Wallis and Bougainville: The Tahitian Metonym
  Polynesia and Tahiti in German Eyes, 1770s-1850
  Nineteenth-Century Social Change in Polynesia and the Increasing Attractiveness of Samoa
  Nineteenth-Century Samoa: From Lapérouse to the Germans
  The Evolution of European and German Representations of Samoa
  Precolonial Guidelines for a Future Native Policy
 
CHAPTER 5
  "The Spirit of the German Nation at Work in the Antipodes": German Colonialism in Samoa, 1900-1914
  Salvage Colonialism
  The Sources of Native Policy in Samoa
  Class distinction and Class Exaltation
  Conclusion: Resistance and the Limits on Colonial Native Policy

PART THREE: CHINA

CHAPTER 6
  The Foreign Devil's Handwriting: German Views of China before "Kiautschou"
  Europe's Cathay
  Sinomania
  German Views of China in the Era of Sinomania
  The Rise of Sinophobia
  German Sinophobia
  En Route to Quingdao: Speaking of the Devil
  Multivocality in German Representations of China at the End of the Nineteenth Century
  Toward "German-China"
  Transition

CHAPTER 7
  A Pact with the (Foreign) Devil: Qingdao as a Colony
  Bumrush the Show: Germans in Colonial Kiaochow, 1897-1905
  Shaken, Not Stirred: Segregated Colonial Space and Radical Alterity During the First Phase of German Colonialism in Kiaochow, 1897-1904
  German Native Policy in Kiaochow, Compared
  Early Native Policy and the Haunting of Sinophobia by Sinophilia
  The Seminar for Oriental Languages and German Sinology as a Conduit for Sinophilia
  Rapproachment: The Second Phase of German Colonialism in Kiaochow, 1905-14
  Explaining the Shift in Native Policy
  Conclusion

CHAPTER 8
  Conclusion: Colonial Afterlives

Appendix 1: A Note on Sources and Procedures
Appendix 2: Head Administrators of German Southwest Africa, Samoa, and Kiaochow
Bibliography
Index

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)