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Elke Frederiksen


My contribution connects a variety of discourses such as colonialism, travel, gender, and race by exploring three very different colonial ‘texts’ written at different times in the late nineteenth and the late twentieth centuries. More specifically, these texts focus on journeys from Germany to East and Southwest Africa and from Cameroon to Berlin. While describing real journeys, these travel texts might also be read metaphorically as writing across borders.

Within the methodological framework of German cultural studies, I am presenting multifaceted readings of Frieda von Bülow’s Reisescizzen und Tagebuchblätter aus Deutsch-Ostafrika (1889) — she is known as the author of the first German colonial novel — and of Uwe Timm’s Morenga (1978) — he is known as the author of the first post-colonial novel. In contrast to these readings, a brief discussion of the popular Völkerschauen around 1900 in Berlin explores an entirely different ‘text’ which represents an African voice by focusing on a picture of Prince Samson Dido and his journey from Cameroon to Berlin. Of particular interest is Dido’s unusual ‘fashion statement’ which combines African and European ways of dressing and can be read as his deliberate attempt to cross borders. In more general terms, my article emphasizes the heterogeneity of travel writing and connects it with concepts of the ‘border’ which have been discussed frequently in literary and cultural studies in the last decades and are reexamined continuously.