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Title: Branches of Memory: Colonialism and the Making of the Historical Imagination in Namibia and Tanzania, 1914-1969
Authors: Krautwald, Fabian
Advisors: Kreike, Emmanuel
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: Decolonization
German Colonialism
Restorative Justice
Subjects: History
African history
African studies
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation compares how eastern and southern Africans incorporated colonialism into their historical imagination. It does so by examining how ordinary men and women, indigenous leaders, and nationalist politicians in Namibia and Tanzania remembered German colonialism (1884–1918) after its end. Whereas existing scholarship in African history tends to foreshorten its treatment of German rule because Germany lost its colonies in the First World War, this study argues that the afterlives of the shortest-lived colonial empire in Africa reveal the protracted nature of decolonization on the continent. Based on newly collected oral and hitherto unutilized written sources in Swahili and Otjiherero, the dissertation shows that invoking German rule became a language through which Namibians and Tanzanians negotiated with subsequent rulers, explored the meaning of the colonial encounter, and formulated claims for recompense. It thus highlights that remembering colonialism became integral to the assertion of African sovereignty and the emergence of modern restorative justice politics.In both countries, trees served as anchors of this memory making. The dissertation therefore employs the shape of trees and their branches as a metaphor to describe the individual and collective acts of recall that make up social remembrance. Namibians and Tanzanians extended these “branches” in families, the public sphere, and through cultural practices. Rather than being stifled by silence and trauma, the dissertation demonstrates that Namibians and Tanzanians told stories about and with German colonialism among each other and with erstwhile colonizers and anti-imperialists. While decolonization was an inherently future-oriented endeavor, this study shows that its realization also depended on processes of memory-making across generations. In this way, “Branches of Memory” writes a history of the end of empire in eastern and southern Africa as the popular intellectual history of those who had to bear it.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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