Samoa - 'Perle' der deutschen Kolonien? 'Bilder' des exotischen Anderen in Geschichte(n) des 20. Jahrhunderts

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2004-04-21
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DiPaola, Kathrin
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Frederiksen, Elke
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ABSTRACT Title of Dissertation:SAMOA PERLE' DER DEUTSCHEN KOLONIEN? BILDER' DES EXOTISCHEN ANDEREN IN GESCHICHTE(N) DES 20. JAHRHUNDERTS Kathrin DiPaola, Doctor of Philosophy, 2004 Dissertation directed by: Professor Elke Frederiksen Department of Germanic Studies Comparable to a 'lost paradise' with its pleasant climate and peaceful inhabitants as well as its considerable profits from the export of copra, Western Samoa was considered the 'pearl' of the German colonial empire, which offered an ideal platform for portraying Germany as a 'model child' among the colonizing nations. Drawing on well-established 18th century stereotypes of the South Pacific as a place of archaic beauty, social equality, and uninhibited sexuality, German authors at the end of the 19th and early 20th century still used familiar images of the 'exotic other' to define and justify a new political, imperialistic, and ideological 'German self' within the colonial context. The selected travel narratives and novels Otto Ehlers' Samoa- Perle der Südsee (1900), Erich Scheurmann's Paitea und Ilse (1919), Emil Reche's Kifanga, Frieda Zieschank's Ein verlorenes Paradies (both 1924), and Herbert Nachbar's Der Weg nach Samoa (1976) are representative of a broader body of work that promotes the notion of a predetermined understanding of the 'self' and the 'other' as a form of national and individual identification in 20th century colonial literature. In order to reveal the most common stereotypes that propagated the image of a 'German South Pacific', postcolonial theories provide the appropriate analytical tools to describe and deconstruct existing dependencies between colonizing 'self' and colonized 'other' by asking the following key questions: Is the encounter between 'self' and 'other' characterized by specific patterns? How do these patterns pre-determine the 'other'? How does the portrayal of the 'other' define the 'self'? My analysis focuses on three major categories that are instrumental in the process of 'appropriating the other': 1) literary space vs. 'real' geography, 2) literary space and pre-existing images of the 'other', and 3) literary space and the exotic-erotic. A thorough investigation of the themes mentioned above, preceded by a general overview of constructed properties of the image of the 'South Seas', leads me to the conclusion that Samoa was indeed the proclaimed 'pearl' of the German colonial empire because it could easily be adjusted to changing political and cultural settings of 20th century German realities.
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