On German settler colonialisms: Dörte Lerp, ‘Beyond the Prairie: Adopting, Adapting and Transforming Settlement Policies within the German Empire’, Journal of Modern European History, 14, 2, 2016, pp. 225-244


Abstract: The article investigates the emergence of state-sponsored settlement schemes in various empires throughout the second half of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. The main focus lies on the German Empire and how settlement policies were introduced to and implemented within it. Focusing on inter- and inner-imperial borrowings, as well as adaptations and transformations, the article explores whether or not and to what extent, the inner colonisation of the eastern Prussian provinces was influenced by North American settlement schemes like the United States Homestead Act of 1862 and the Canadian homestead legislation of 1872. It also takes a close look at the development of policies within Germany’s so-called settlement colony, German Southwest Africa: a process that was shaped by the Prussian precedent to some degree, but even more so by British settlement policies in South Africa. However, even though scholars and politicians were engaged in the transfer of ideas and concepts from one locale to another, it was primarily the administration that determined the directions the policies took. It is therefore not surprising that the settlement programmes in the eastern Prussian provinces and German Southwest Africa differed considerably not only from the settlement acts in North America or British South Africa, but also from each other. This article argues that, in order to fully grasp the emergence of various state-aided settlement programmes within and beyond the German Empire, we have to look beyond inter- or intra-imperial transfers and analyse the broader concepts of space and population that informed those programmes.

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