Christine Winter at History on Monday 2 September

On 2 September I am presenting my preliminary results and research questions arising from my historical research project at REGS. My project emerges from more than a decade of researching the impact and legacies of German colonial rule in the South West Pacific, concentrating on ‘race-mixing’ and the continuity of German mixed-race elites in these colonial and post-colonial spaces. It is entitled: German Mixed-Race Diasporas in Southern Hemisphere Mandated Territories: Scientific theories, politics and identity transformation.

I analyse what impact German mixed-race peoples, as objects and subjects, had on the development of racial theory and practice in the Global South. In a longitudinal study I am exploring the transformation of identity of mixed-race German families through the 20thcentury, characterized by dramatic political changes, beginning with the end of the German colonial empire, and ending with independence and post-colonial Pacific Islander nations.

For mixed-race Germans, jostling between shifting colonial and national regimes, race was always an arbitrary signifier; assessment of descent was not legally clear-cut for colonial subjects generally but relied on additional moral and emotional judgments. Such indeterminacy also enabled a limited degree of personal agency for manipulation and subversion of racial status, particularly by people with real or imagined connections to Germany. Likewise mixed-origins provided a link to indigeneity during periods of anti- and post colonialism, necessitating radical identity transformation.