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Perched above the Golden Sea: Science at the Confluence of Business and Governance in German East Africa

Hopkins, William Hays (2016)
Master's Thesis (98 pages)
Committee Chair / Thesis Adviser: Vick, Brian
Committee Members: Crais, Clifton C ; Miller, Judith
Research Fields: European history; African history; History of science
Keywords: German East Africa; Agriculture; Science; Economics; Capitalism; Maji Maji; German colonialism; Imperial Germany
Program: Laney Graduate School, History
Permanent url: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/rmzvb

Abstract

My work addresses the development of the German East African (1891-1919) economy, particularly leading up to and following the Maji Maji Uprising (1905-1907). Its primary focus rests on the contradictions behind the rapid rise of the sisal crop of the agave genus. In under a decade, sisal went from almost non-existent in the colony to accounting for over a quarter of its exports. This rise pivoted on the years of the Uprising while also seemingly controverting some of the primary effects of the unrest. For instance, government officials openly began to support indigenous agriculture and proclaimed it to be the colony's economic future. Sisal, however, was grown exclusively by Germans in a plantation setting using African labor. While the stage was set for a conflict between these two divergent aims, sisal's rise continued unabated--the area remains a center of production to this day. My work seeks to contextualize this outcome through an examination of the actors who facilitated its rise.

The key figures in shaping the colonial economy--outside of the African laborers--were German business (primarily concentrated in the northeast of the colony), scientists (employed by companies and the government alike), and the colonial government. Scientists stood at the confluence, receiving funding from both sides. They, therefore, variously reflected the aspirations of both government and business throughout the first decade of the twentieth century. Coinciding with the Uprising and the emergence of sisal as a dominant export commodity, however, science shifted its focus away from the largely failed crops forwarded by the government and took on a more public role in support of business. In showing a similar shift on the part of government toward supporting labor recruitment, this study revises the prior historical portrayal of a government at odds with German settlers and companies. By examining the writings of both government officials and scientists, I seek to spotlight the dominance of the capitalist paradigm in the minds of all these types of colonial actors and behind the wave of support that transformed the German East African landscape into a golden sea.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1. Towards a Plantation Economy 15

-The Missteps, Failures, and Advance of the Early Plantation System

-Der Pflanzer: In Support of a Plantation-based Economy

-Intensification of the Plantation Economy

2. The Regional Particularity of Tanga 36

-The Plantation Economy: Why the Tanga Region?

-Labor Policy Prior to the Maji Maji Uprising

Post Maji Maji: Reformation and its Limits 47

-Dernburg's Report

-Rechenberg and Dernburg's Pragmatic Approach to Reform

-Labor Recruitment Outside of Tanga

3. Amani, the Government, and the Paradigm of Producing for the Market 65

-A Relationship with Global Aspirations

-Pragmatism over Idealism

-The Dominance of Capitalist Logic

Conclusion 79

Appendices 82

-One: Map of German East Africa

-Two: Table of Abbreviations

-Three: Projections for Sisal's Rise

Sources 85

Files

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