Book ID: CBB001212521

Africa in Translation: A History of Colonial Linguistics in Germany and Beyond, 1814--1945 (2012)


Pugach, Sara Elizabeth Berg (Author)

University of Michigan Press

Publication Date: 2012
Physical Details: x + 303 pp.
Language: English

The study of African languages in Germany, or Afrikanistik, originated among Protestant missionaries in the early nineteenth century and was incorporated into German universities after Germany entered the "Scramble for Africa" and became a colonial power in the 1880s. Despite its long history, few know about the German literature on African languages or the prominence of Germans in the discipline of African philology. In Africa in Translation: A History of Colonial Linguistics in Germany and Beyond, 1814--1945, Sara Pugach works to fill this gap, arguing that Afrikanistik was essential to the construction of racialist knowledge in Germany. While in other countries biological explanations of African difference were central to African studies, the German approach was essentially linguistic, linking language to culture and national identity. Pugach traces this linguistic focus back to the missionaries' belief that conversion could not occur unless the "Word" was allowed to touch a person's heart in his or her native language, as well as to the connection between German missionaries living in Africa and armchair linguists in places like Berlin and Hamburg. Over the years, this resulted in Afrikanistik scholars using language and culture rather than biology to categorize African ethnic and racial groups. Africa in Translation follows the history of Afrikanistik from its roots in the missionaries' practical linguistic concerns to its development as an academic subject in both Germany and South Africa throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Sara Pugach is Assistant Professor of History at California State University, Los Angeles. Jacket image: Perthes, Justus. Mittel und Süd-Afrika. Map. Courtesy of the University of Michigan's Stephen S. Clark Library map collection.

Reviewed By

Review Orosz, Kenneth J. (2014) Review of "Africa in Translation: A History of Colonial Linguistics in Germany and Beyond, 1814--1945". Central European History (p. 186). unapi

Review Wokoeck, Ursula (2013) Review of "Africa in Translation: A History of Colonial Linguistics in Germany and Beyond, 1814--1945". American Historical Review (pp. 270-271). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Schröder, Wilfried
Sunseri, Thaddeus
Linne, Karsten
Burchardt, Lothar
Eckart, Wolfgang U.
Demhardt, Imre Josef
International Journal of African Historical Studies
Environment and History
Environmental History
Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Cartographica Helvetica
Journal of Southern African Studies
WP Druck & Verlag
University of Toronto
Princeton University
University of Wisconsin at Madison
Germany, colonies
Linguistics; philology
Tropical medicine
Eylmann, Erhard
Finsch, Otto
Dilthey, Wilhelm
Windelband, Wilhelm
Saussure, Ferdinand de
Grimm, Jacob Ludwig Karl
Time Periods
20th century, early
19th century
20th century
18th century
Berlin (Germany)
Tanzania (Tanganyika, Zanzibar)
East Africa
Universität Hamburg
League of Nations

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