Academic journal article American Studies

ALABAMA IN AFRICA: Booker T. Washington, the German Empire, and the Globalization of the New South

Academic journal article American Studies

ALABAMA IN AFRICA: Booker T. Washington, the German Empire, and the Globalization of the New South

Article excerpt

ALABAMA IN AFRICA: Booker T. Washington, the German Empire, and the Globalization of the New South. By Andrew Zimmerman. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 2010.

Alabama in Africa follows the promising paths opened up in American Studies and American History by transnational approaches and comparative perspectives. Zimmerman's profound study traces the circumatlantic convergence of American and German ideologies of race, agricultural labor, and family farming in early twentieth-century West Africa. Focusing on an expedition of Tuskegee Institute cotton experts to the German colony of Togo in the 1910s, it explores the symbiosis intended by German authorities of Booker T. Washington's concepts of "industrial education" with their own economic goals and political ambitions in the larger contexts of global imperialism. Zimmerman bases his astounding trajectory of the transfer of knowledge and paradigms of labor control from the U.S. to Germancolonized Africa on affinities between the implications, ideologies, and interests of the historical transition from serfdom and slavery to free, yet controlled labor in Prussia after 1807 and in the American South after 1865. In view of the mutual influences between German and American social science and social policy especially in the later decades of the nineteenth century, Alabama in Africa examines the role of the cotton experts from the Tuskegee Agricultural Department in the subordination of previously independent African farmers to the coercive programs of the German colonial system. Zimmerman uncovers the participation of the model farms of the Tuskegee experts in the "civilizing mission" of the German colonial authorities in Togo and problematizes the position of the Tuskegee expedition of reproducing the American South in Africa while inspiring Pan-African notions of anticolonialist solidarity. Zimmerman's narrative raises new questions in connection with Booker T. …

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