Comparative Constitutional Design and Legal Culture
Studies in Comparative Law and Legal Culture series
Edited by Günter Frankenberg
Chapter 13: German citizenship and its colonial heritage
Post-colonial theories have their disciplinary roots mostly in the cultural studies of Anglo-Saxon countries, from which they have only recently and somewhat slowly permeated German science as a transdisciplinary field of literature, cultural studies, social sciences and history. Although they have also found their way into the work of some non-German legal scholars, they have received to date little attention in German jurisprudence. This is doubtless due in part to the marginal role ascribed to German colonialism in Germany’s collective consciousness. Germany’s colonialism may indeed have been, as not only Edward Said believed, of “negligible quantity” in terms of duration and dimension, compared with other and more visible and established colonial powers, such as Portugal, Spain, Great Britain, France, and even the Netherlands. On the eve of the First World War the German empire had acquired a comparatively small number of colonies that altogether encompassed an area of nearly 3 million square kilometers and a population of about 13.63 million persons. However, that it does not seem wholly convincing to judge the significance of colonialism in political, social and scientific life solely on the basis of quantitative criteria, becomes obvious, as I will show in the following, when taking a look at the public, scientific as well as the parliamentary discourse on citizenship in Germany from the beginning of the 20th century. Firstly, one of the most important elements of post-colonial theory is the analysis of the discourses which have accompanied, structured, and legitimized colonial expansion.
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