Université de Yaoundé I

Projet Colonial Commodities
IMG_1000 (2) C
EXC 2052 Africa Multiple: Revised Proposal for a Long-Term Project 1.1Title and Duration of the Proposed Project 1.2Title: Colonial Commodities – Entanglements in German and West-African History Duration: 48 Start Date: 1.1.2022 1.3Research Section(s) RS Knowledges, RS Mobilities, RS Arts and Aesthetics 1.4Location(s) Universität Bayreuth, HBK Braunschweig, University of Yaoundé I 1.5Other Members of the Proposed Research Team - Prof. Dr. Ulrike Bergermann, Media Studies / History and Theory of Visual Media, Braunschweig University of Art (HBK) - Leah Gerfelmeyer, PhD student, Media Studies, UBT - Dr. Salamatou, Post-Doc, University of Yaoundé I 2 Summary of the Project Proposal 2.1 Topic and Relevance This project examines multimodal relationalities of German colonial history and its aftermath in Germany and West Africa. German industrialization, colonization, media of mass culture and West African plantation economy, enslavement and infrastructures of transport are deeply intertwined. The project discusses their historical entanglements by focusing on exemplary colonial materials. The research will be performed in close dialogue and cooperation between Germany and Cameroon. The project examines the history of colonial relations through two cases of 'colonial commodities', each of which is associated with different practices of power and knowledge: Cocoa/Chocolate and Cinchona/Quinine. Using an STS-inspired approach, we follow the materials, the colonial practices and the knowledges related to them, their conditions of production, their routes of transportation as well as administration, their material and medial transformations, discursive and visual attributions. The project is thus situated at the intersections of the RS Knowledges, RS Mobilities and RS Arts and Aesthetics. The focus on these two exemplary colonial materials allows a precise analysis of their situatedness(es) and an empirical study on relationalities of colonialism, industrialization and mass media. With the focus on cacao/chocolate and cinchona/quinine the project aims at a critique of often overlooked epistemic legacies of these knowledges up to the present day (see collector’s items, popular culture, games like Anno 1800 etc.). This project will put in dialogue research into colonial history in Germany and Cameroon and enables a discussion on the relationally of media history and colonial history for a range of disciplines within African Studies (literature studies, film studies, cultural history, STS) and beyond. The project will as well contribute to recent historical and political debates about German colonialism as to approaches of decolonization knowledges of the Global North. 3 Research Concept 3.1 Research Objectives The project contributes to and is situated within studies of German colonial history and its aftermath in Germany and West Africa (Stoecker 1960-1968, Wirz 1972, Mbembe 1996, Zantop 1999, Schulte-Varendorff 2001, Michels 2004, Simo 2005, Michels/Temguoa 2005, Hoffmann 2007, Temgoua 2014, Gouaffo/Michels 2019, Etemad 2007). It discusses their historical entanglements by focusing on exemplary colonial materials. German industrialization, colonization, media of mass culture and West African plantation economy, enslavement and infrastructures of transport are deeply intertwined. Both research perspectives will be performed in close dialogue and in a cooperation between Germany and Cameroon. The project follows the research objective of examining the history of colonial relations by focusing on two exemplary 'colonial commodities', each of which is associated with different practices of power and knowledge: Cocoa/Chocolate and Cinchona/Quinine. Using an STS-inspired approach (Latour 1987), we follow the materials, the colonial practices and the knowledges related to them, their conditions of production, their routes of transportation as well as administration, their material and medial transformations, their discursive and visual attributions. The constitution and traveling of such knowledges will be situated in specific settings of material culture, colonial and industrial technologies as well as medial and aesthetic practices, which is why we situate the project at the intersections of the RS Knowledges, RS Mobilities, and RS Arts&Aesthetics In order to discuss the colonial entanglements of both cacao/chocolate and cinchona/quinine, the project attends to the multimodal relationalities of German colonialism, industrialization and mass media for the case of selected ‘Kolonialwaren’ [colonial commodities] of the 19th and 20th centuries. Cacao/Chocolate : With respect to this material the project extends previous research on cocoa and chocolate (Schivelbusch 1983, Pfiffner 2001, Norton 2008, Verein Rohkakaohandel 1986, 2011, Hackenesch 2017) by specifically situating it in the colonial and industrial modes of production. Furthermore, it focuses on the relationality of the rise of mass media and industrialized cacao/chocolate production. Cocoa is linked to European coffee houses, where merchants met and planned their trade business, while the bourgeois women consumed the hot beverages in private spaces only (Robertson 2009). Gendered and racialized uses of the material coined the idea of taste in both philosophy and society, thus accentuating a “whiteness of the senses” . Especially visual media have been involved in a specific way in the popularization of chocolate as has been exemplarily shown for the German company Stollwerck and others (Epple 2007, 2010, Junggeburth 2014, Bettge 2008, Spantig 1997, Schweer 2010, Ciarlo 2011). From a perspective of media history Loiperdinger (1999) has traced Stollwerck's role in the vending machine industry, the early popularization of 'new media' ('living pictures', film), and the internationalization and mechanization of the entertainment industry in Europe and the USA. In relation to the constitution of consuming working classes (developing a “civilized taste” for the colonial commodities coffee, tea, cacao, sugar), media come into view that lend semiotic dimensions to cocoa/chocolate and play a key role in the medialization of tastes and aesthetics: Collectible images/trading cards (Spantig 1997, Schweer 2010, Zeller 2008), advertisements in text and image (Ciarlo 2011), packaging, vending machines. (Loiperdinger 1999), postcards (Axster 2014), chocolate fountains at trade shows, and other vizualizations, that remain to be quite popular (and expensive) collectibles up to today. We will follow the historical material and situate these medializations in relation to the industrialized chocolate production in European capitalism (steam chocolate factories in Cologne, Hamburg, Dresden, Potsdam; machines and new forms of production; class issues), to exploitation in colonized regions of Africa (plantations, enslavement), colonial flows of goods (from and to the colonized regions), quality controls and standardization in the incipient luxury food industry, and infrastructures of transport and storage (railroads, shipping, customs ports, warehouses, packaging). Cinchona/Quinine : We will address cinchona/quinine as material and substance that is more clearly locatable in pharmacy and medicine. Quinine was used in malaria prophylaxis, first by the British Empire in India (Roy 2017, Curtin 1989, Goss 2014), then in the colonization of Africa (Gale 1982, Cohen 1983, Issa 2011, Bauche 2017, Gruskin 2021). The project examines the specific role of quinine in tropical medicine and 'ship hygiene', colonial infrastructures of transport and travel, racialized and gendered colonial health care, industrial fabrication (Ziegler 2003,), sensory physiology (Jütte 2014), taste attributions, and drug prescriptions. The administration of quinine was one of the standard medical treatments during the establishment of a state health system in Prussia and the colonies of the German Empire around 1900, largely fostered by Robert Koch (Bauche 2017, Tilley 2011, 2016). Correspondingly, we will study medical discourses on the use of quinine in German tropical medicine as well as traces in correspondence of colonists featuring the very bitter-tasting substance as a remedy or a poison (Derrida [1972] 1981). We will also follow the traces of experimental cinchona plantations during German colonization (N.N. 1894, Engler 1896, Fosberg 1947). With the material goods trading company Jobst (Boehringer since 1926), Germany is home to one of the most important quinine productions of the 19/20th century - an early history of the chemical industry (Ziegler 2003). As tonic water quinine was transformed into an industrially produced stimulant and thus is a part of the colonial genealogy of Gin&Tonic. Following these multiple and mobile modes of existence of both colonial materials, we analyze relationalities of colonization, industrialization, medial representations especially in the 19th and 20th centuries. These questions will guide our joint research on both materials: - Which plantation practices have been enacted with respect to the two ‚raw’ materials cacao and cinchona in Cameroon (in multiple dimensions: botanics, labour, violence, administration, storages, shipping)? - How have transport and administrative infrastructures been construed and enacted, which actors were involved, which disturbances did occur, which resistances have been practiced? - Which transformations have the substances undergone, which industrial production procedures and infrastructures have they passed, how are these processes commented on in coeval literature? - How have different media accompanied these processes, which inscriptions are involved, how do the materials appear in media, which relationalities between material and medial procedures can be described? - How are the relations between colonial industrialized commodity production and distribution, infrastructures of transport and communication, modes of existence and modes of use enacted with respect to the exemplary commodities? - Where and how do both materials meet? - What traces with respect to taste and concepts of aesthetics can be observed? In what ways do they enact an unmarked whitenening of the senses, shaping both embodied everyday and academic life? - How are categories of race, gender, class intersectionally inscribed in these relations? With the focus on entanglements of knowledges around cacao/chocolate and cinchona/quinine the project aims at a critique of often overlooked resonances of these knowledges up to the present day (see collector’s items, popular culture, games like Anno 1800 etc.). By following two specific material substances, that circulate - albeit with different accentuations – in fields of medicine/public health as well as fields of luxury/consume, the project proposes an innovative approach to the relationalities of knowledge production, coloniality and history of technology. The project thus will contribute to scholarship on colonial history in African Studies, analyzing enduring colonial traces in current discourses. The project is putting German and Cameroonian research on colonial history into dialogue and enables a discussion on the relationally of media history and colonial history for disciplines within African Studies (literature studies, film studies, cultural history, STS) and beyond. This research will as well contribute to recent historical and political debates about German colonialism as to approaches of decolonization knowledges of the Global North. 3.2 Research Design and Expected Output The project analyzes the situatedness(es) (Haraway 1988) and relationalities of two different colonial materials with respect to colonialism, industrialization and media history. To this end, it develops a methodological-reflexive and relational approach inspired by cultural history, discourse and media theory, science&technology studies, infrastructure studies, postcolonial and critical whiteness studies, feminist, gender&queer studies. With case studies on cocoa/chocolate and cinchona/quinine, we choose an approach that focuses on two substances/materials rather than on social or institutional entitites. We understand these substances as material-semiotic actors (Haraway 1991). The project will situate them in a web of relationalities to practices of European colonialism, capitalist-industrial forms of value creation and infrastructures, intersectional power relations of race, class, gender, and academic and corporeal knowledges around aesthetics. In doing so, connections already described in the literature will be sought out and placed in relation to historical source material of different mediality (scientific journals, letters, administrative documents, visualizations of all sort, literature, travelogues, advertisements) in order to establish new, possibly unexpected relations. Expected output The project output comprises three journal articles and two dissertation monographs (all in open access). The project results will also be presented in the form of joint panels and individual presentations at various conferences in cultural history, media studies, science & technology studies, literary studies. In two workshops - one in Germany, one in Cameroon -, the project will enter into interdisciplinary dialogue with international researchers and discuss the interim research results. A public presentation at Iwalewahaus is envisioned towards the end of the project. Project organization After an initial comprehensive familiarization with previous research and a research phase for archival material, trips to various archives and collections to create an analysis corpus and digitizations of historical material are planned for the first year of the project. In the second year,detailed analyses for the two case studies will be conducted. While the four sub-projects will work in close relation throughout the whole project, the third year will explicitly serve to put the previous results of the case studies in relation to each other and discussed them in a complementary way. In the fourth year, the project will focus on summarizing the findings, finalizing the doctoral theses and outreach activities. The public presentation at Iwalewahaus is envisioned towards the end of the project and will be prepared by a BA/MA course at UBT. While monthly meetings will take place with the PhD researchers, a hybrid project meeting of two days is planned about 2x/year. The project will invite collaborating partners for a 30day research visit to Germany twice. The project’s participants will undertake archival research in Germany as well as in Cameroon. While all findings will be shared (on a joint platform) and discussed in regular research team meetings (held virtually, hosted by UBT/Virtual Bayreuth - which will enable close collaboration in as possible a climate and cost neutral way), the two doctoral researchers will get the chance to research for their sub-projects also in the partner country. For phases of limited access to archives and libraries under pandemic conditions, extensive digitized material is available to the project. We hope for sufficient phases in which visits by individual researchers to archives and collections are possible in order to be able to create a clearly contoured corpus of analysis that is not based solely on the arbitrariness of what has already been digitized. The project therefore also aims to digitize a comprehensive range of materials for the corpus (the exact conditions of digital archiving and access would then have to be clarified with the collection owners). The project will include digitization of archival materials (mainly of archival material from the National Archives of Cameroon as well as of visual material from German private collections.) 6.4 Collaboration The project will be realized in collaboration with David Simo, Constantin Sonkwé Tayim, Miguoue Jean Bertrand and other colleagues from the University of Yaoundé I, Cameroon, who have declared their interest in doing research on German colonialism in cooperation with us. The design of the former project has been changed after our dialogue with the colleagues, who agreed upon the new design with the four sub-projects. These colleagues will also be mediators in assigning a doctoral student and a colleague, who will supervise the sub-project in Cameroon, that should be pursued within the co-tutelle PhD program that Bayreuth has with Yaoundé. We will also cooperate with Gilbert Dotsé Yigbe from University of Togo whom we had been in contact with.

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