Eva Bischoff
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The goddess and the beast
African–German encounters
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On 26 August 1913, Emma (Meg) Gehrts embarked on a one year journey to the German “Schutzgebiet” Togo. She accompanied the explorer and film‐maker Hans Schomburgk to perform the female lead in the first movie filmed on site with African supernumeraries, called “The White Goddess of the Wangora.” As the first European woman to set foot into many villages of the hinterland, her pale skin sent little children screaming, afraid of an ugly man‐eating monster. Gehrt’s travel journal has been lauded as one of the primary examples of German “humanistic” colonial literature, characterized by a growing respect of African peoples and their cultures. In contrast to this interpretation, this chapter argues that her text was in fact part of a multimedia complex (also including film and photographs) which was located in both, British and German colonial discourses alike. It sketched an intricate picture of the preconceptions, misunderstandings, and bargaining processes that structured the African‐German encounter.

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Savage worlds

German encounters abroad, 1798-1914


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