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

4.19 (21 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

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.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 608 pages
  • 154 x 228 x 36.83mm | 940g
  • University of Chicago Press
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 12 colour plates, 78 halftones, 6 maps, 3 line drawings
  • 0226772438
  • 9780226772431
  • 734,463

Review quote

"The Devil's Handwriting is a masterly study of the capacious nature of the colonial form. 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." - Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Columbia University"
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About George Steinmetz

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.
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Rating details

21 ratings
4.19 out of 5 stars
5 48% (10)
4 33% (7)
3 14% (3)
2 0% (0)
1 5% (1)
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