Wednesday, February 25th: Emma Thomas

Please join the European History Workshop on Wednesday, February 25th from 6-8pm for the following paper and discussion:

“Contested Labors: Gender, Sexuality, and the Indenture in German New Guinea”

Emma Thomas
Doctoral Candidate
Departments of History and Germanic Languages and Literatures
University of Michigan

The paper is available on the EHW CTOOLS site NOW. For a copy of the paper and/or access to the site please email one of the workshop co-coordinators.

The event will be held in 2713 Haven Hall.

Dinner will be provided, as usual.

Please find an abstract of the paper below:

As I argue in this paper, concerns about gender and sexuality underpinned the very system that formed the economic, political, social, and ideological basis of German rule in New Guinea—the labor indenture. Drawing on colonial court records and debates about the colonial administration’s proposed ban on the recruitment of female laborers, I examine New Guinean women’s experiences of, and European men’s attitudes toward, the indenture, revealing the centrality of women’s sexual, productive, and reproductive labors to that system. I argue that while these forms of labor were highly contested by both New Guineans and Europeans, German colonists of different stripes shared gendered and racialized understandings of indentured New Guinean women that linked their laboring bodies to sexual licentiousness. That various colonial groups mobilized these tropes toward competing ends suggests that questions of access to, and control over, women’s laboring bodies were central to questions of colonial governance in German New Guinea.