Female Travel in the German Empire: Women’s Emancipation and Advocacy of Colonialism in Frieda von Bülow’s In the Land of PromiseNkouda Sopgui Romuald Valentin
In German historiography, women’s participation in colonial conquests has long been ignored. In fact, as early as the 1880s, the German female bourgeoisie began to take an interest in the colonies. It was common for bourgeois women to gather within a feminist circle and to accompany the men on colonial expeditions, thus putting the patriarchal origin of the German Empire into question. Our contribution focuses on Frieda von Bülow’s colonial novel In the Land of Promises. Her novel shows that women’s presence in the colonies, which at first might seem to be a form of emancipation coupled with exoticism, in fact led to the legitimization of colonization. As a result, the notions of sex, race, and colony are tightly bound together. Ultimately, the novel shows that women’s participation in the colonial process maintained the purity of the German identity by establishing a racial order in the colonies that allowed the Germans to avoid bicultural relations.
Weibliche Reise im Deutschen Kaiserreich: Frauenemanzipation und Befürwortung des Kolonialismus in Frieda von Bülows Im Lande der VerheißungNkouda Sopgui Romuald Valentin
In der deutschen Geschichtsschreibung wurde die Beteiligung von Frauen an kolonialen Eroberungen lange ignoriert. Bereits in den 1880er Jahren erweckten die Kolonien das Interesse bürgerlicher Frauen. In den feministischen Kreisen versammelt, begleiteten sie die kolonialen Expeditionen und stellten damit die patriarchalische Logik des deutschen Reiches in Frage. Unser Beitrag fokussiert auf Frieda von Bülows Kolonialerzählung „Im Lande der Verheißung“. Es geht darum zu zeigen, dass die Anwesenheit von Frauen in den Kolonien, die auf den ersten Blick als eine Form der Emanzipation betrachtet werden kann, in Verbindung mit einem Exotismus, zur Legitimierung der Kolonisation führt. Dabei sind „Geschlecht“, „Rasse“ und „Kolonie“ drei Begriffe, die sich verknüpfen, um zu zeigen, dass die Beteiligung von Frauen am Kolonialprozess die Etablierung einer rassistischen Ordnung in den Kolonien ermöglichte, mit dem Ziel nicht nur bi-kulturelle Beziehungen zu vermeiden, sondern auch die Reinheit der deutschen Identität aufrechtzuerhalten.
In German historiography, women’s participation in colonial conquests has long been ignored. In fact, as early as the 1880s, the German female bourgeoisie began to take an interest in the colonies. It was common for bourgeois women to gather within a feminist circle and to accompany the men on colonial expeditions, thus putting the patriarchal origin of the German Empire into question. A woman’s main responsibilities in the colonies included nursing, obstetrics, malaria prevention, and household chores. Participating in colonial enterprise allowed women to avoid experiencing the patriarchy as passive victims, thereby portraying the colonies as possible places for female emancipation. Novels about traveling and colonialism were born out of these women’s journeys. These novels not only describe life in the colonies, but also portray the German feeling of superiority and their mission of civilization. This paper examines the role of German women in colonial conquests through study of the novel In the Land of Promises, by German author Frieda von Bülow. Undoubtedly the best-known female writer in the German colonial movement before the First World War, she became the founder of the German colonial novel. After the unification of Germany in 1871, the national and colonial question formed the foundation of German identity. In the wake of these expansionist movements, German colonialism appears to propagate the Pan-Germanist ideology. In this light, feminist movements are not left out. Women’s writings show the legitimacy of the colonies and how the feminine imperialism contributed to creating the colonial profile of the young nation through their participation in the migration to the colonies. Our contribution focuses on Frieda von Bülow’s colonial novel In the Land of Promises. This paper examines women’s emancipation as a strategy for legitimizing colonialism. It argues that female colonialists hampered contact between male colonizers and indigenous women in order to maintain racial purity. The female subject should be the colonial ruler as a necessary cultural and ideological companion. The dispositive participation of women in colonialism was used to dictate colonial racial politics. Women’s presence in the colonies was intended to legitimize the predominance of the colonial metropolis. Von Bülow’s novel shows that women’s presence in the colonies, which at first might seem to be a form of emancipation coupled with exoticism, in fact led to the legitimization of colonization. As a result, the notions of sex, race, and colony are tightly bound together. Ultimately, the novel shows that women’s participation in the colonial process made it possible to establish a racial order in the colonies. Our investigation of the colonial narrative in the novel focuses on the physical representation of the female subject in the colonial situation. Here, gender, race, and colony are three terms that are linked to produce the cultural differences and racial demarcation of colonial space. The colonies serve as a projection screen in a multilayered way for colonial fantasies and also for the women’s freedom to participate in colonialism. An examination of the problem of the female journey within the German Empire led to our conclusion that many roles were assigned to German women who lived in colonies. Their presence represented sexual morality, purity, and national values. Von Bülow addresses German white women’s power and position meticulously in her writing. Women’s active participation in colonization can be seen as an attempt to establish a hierarchical, racist, white order and to participate as mistresses of colonial subjects within the German expansion.