Transculturality and German Discourse in the Age of European Colonialism

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ISBN 978-0-8101-3478-2

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ISBN 978-0-8101-3477-5
Publication Date
May 2017
Page Count
272 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

Transculturality and German Discourse in the Age of European Colonialism

Chunjie Zhang

In Transculturality and German Discourse in the Age of European Colonialism, Chunjie Zhang examines the South Pacific travel writings of George Forster and Adelbert von Chamisso, literary works by August von Kotzebue and Johann Joachim Campe, Herder’s philosophy of history, and Kant’s theory of geography from the perspective of non-European impact during the age of Europe’s colonial expansion. She explores what these texts show about German and European superiority, the critique of the slave trade, European moral debauchery, acknowledgments of non-European cultural achievements, and sympathy with colonized peoples. Moving beyond the question of empire versus enlightenment, Zhang’s book diligently detects global connections, offering much to scholars of literature, culture, and intellectual history.
About the Author

CHUNJIE ZHANG is an assistant professor of German at the University of California, Davis.

"[Zhang] seeks to move beyond the impasse of binary constructions common in this scholarship such as Enlightenment and empire or self and other, instead attending to non-European agency and 'reading from the other side, from outside Europe.'" —Goethe Yearbook

"The combination of texts that the author examines is both new and significant—they show that Germans had every hemisphere and global region on their minds. Zhang brings into focus the impact of non-European knowledge on German thinking." —Birgit Tautz, author of Reading and Seeing Ethnic Differences in the Enlightenment: From China to Africa

"Zhang listens for the voices of non-European cultures in German writing about Asia to show how eighteenth-century intellectuals were learning from distant sources. Transculturality seeks to overcome the lopsided opposition between colonizer and colonized by acknowledging the importance of Pacific island culture in the Enlightenment’s production of knowledge. This bold and controversial book engages the full arc of German representations of Asia from Leibniz to Kant while revising the established critiques of early modern travel writing." —Daniel Purdy, author of On the Ruins of Babel: Architectural Metaphor in German Thought

“The image of German culture that emerges from this book is very nuanced and open to the contradictions underlying Germany's relationship with the non-European world. The author accomplishes this not only by offering detailed and precise readings of a series of texts, but also through a careful contextualization of these texts within their time and in relation to current postcolonial and cultural theory. . . . More has been written about these topics—in fact, European views of non-European cultures are an established field of research now—but rarely as eloquently and nuanced as in this study.” —Carl Niekerk, author of Reading Mahler: German Culture and Jewish Identity in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna