Holger Droessler
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Germany’s El Dorado in the Pacific
Metropolitan representations and colonial realities, 1884–1914
in Imperial expectations and realities
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This chapter focuses on different German actors for whom, for different reasons, the Pacific came to appear as an El Dorado. It describes the experiences of the colonised Pacific Islanders themselves, whose traditional homelands the German colonialists turned into everything but an El Dorado. Pacific Islanders were either 'noble savages', whose pure ways of life, physical beauty, and sexual availability they found attractive, or 'ignoble savages' whose uncivilised ways or all too civilised ways were to be feared and contained. Officials in the German Pacific pursued a policy of 'salvage colonialism' aimed at preventing the proletarianisation of the colonised Pacific Islanders. The occurrence of widespread resistance of colonised Pacific Islanders across the German Pacific serves as unmistakable evidence. Pacific Islanders chose from a wide spectrum of resistance strategies, ranging from the use of the so-called 'weapons of the weak' to large-scale violent resistance.

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Imperial expectations and realities

El Dorados, utopias and dystopias


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