Transnational movements between colonial empires: Migrant workers from the British Cape Colony in the German diamond town Lüderitzbucht
Title: Transnational movements between colonial empires: Migrant workers from the British Cape Colony in the German diamond town Lüderitzbucht
Author: LINDNER, Ulrike
Series/Number: EUI RSCAS; 2009/40
Before World War I, there were significant transnational movements and interactions between colonies of different European powers in imperial Africa, a fact that is often neglected in research on imperial and colonial history. The paper addresses such movements taking the town Lüderitzbucht in the German colony South West Africa as an example. Here, from 1908 onwards, a diamond boom attracted migrant workers from other colonies on a great scale, especially from the neighbouring British Cape. Lüderitzbucht is thus identified as a “transnational space”, where interactions between colonial states, conflicting interests of the German colonial administration and German business as well as the life and environment of African migrant workers can be investigated. The developments in Lüderitzbucht point to a growing interconnectedness during a period of worldwide globalisation that also reached the African colonies. Especially German companies were keen to explore the opportunities of a new migrant workforce. Conversely, the paper also stresses that such closer interactions led to a desire to demarcate a national style of colonial rule, especially in case of the German colonial administration. The growing mixed society developing in Lüderitzbucht was obviously highly disturbing for the South West African government. The move of African workers from a British colony to a German colony also entailed a clash of different colonial cultures. As a further point, the focus on transnational connections highlights the otherwise hidden agency of African workers. Individual fates become visible through the use of new sources that would not be of interest to a history solely concentrating on the German or the British colony.
Subject: transcolonial movements; migration; African workers; colonial rule; southern Africa
Type of Access: openAccess