“'Contact' Embodied: German Colonialism, New Guinean Women, and the Everyday Exploitation of a Labor Force," by Emma Thomas, Ph.D.
The 2020 Fritz Stern prize lecture will be delivered by Emma Thomas for her dissertation, “Contested Labors: New Guinean Women and the German Colonial Indenture, 1884-1914." The prize is kindly sponsored by the Friends of the German Historical Institute.
This talks explores the histories of indigenous women and their participation in the indentured labor force that formed the foundation of German colonial rule in New Guinea (1884-1914). Drawing on an archive that includes imperial ordinances, European travel writings, photographs, and colonial court records, this talk reveals the significance of women’s labors to Germany’s colonial project, and the myriad exploitations that accompanied it. Homing in on embodied sites of colonial “contact,” it demonstrates how New Guinean women negotiated European claims to their laboring, racialized, and often eroticized bodies, and confronted German efforts to align local understandings of gender, sexuality, family, and labor with imperial concerns.