You are on page 1of 42


qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 167



Crystal Bartolovich

[Southwest Africa] must be inhabited by white colonists. Therefore the natives

must disappear or rather put themselves at the disposal of the whites, or
retire into the reserves that are set apart for them.
—Evans Lewin, Germans and Africa

We cannot draw closed the net [of capitalism] in which we are caught. Later
on, however, we shall be able to gain an overview of it.
—Walter Benjamin, “Capitalism as Religion”

[T]he traces of imperialism can be detected in Western modernism, and are

indeed constitutive of it; but we must not look for them in the obvious places.
—Fredric Jameson, “Modernism and Imperialism”

N igerian-British artist Yinka Shonibare has made a career of

cultural mélange. His installations have featured staid Victorian
interiors reupholstered and repapered in shockingly brilliant “Afri-
can” prints. He has likewise dressed Gainsborough’s “Mr. and Mrs.
Andrews” (those smug symbols of private landed property and
English respectability), along with numerous other historical, futur-
istic, and contemporary Wgures, in purposefully outlandish fabrics
(often rendering the overall effect of the tableaus more unsettling
by beheading the mannequins as well). He emphasizes that the tex-
tiles his work evocatively deploys represent a far-Xung geography:
Indonesian batik techniques were appropriated by Dutch traders and
taken over in turn by English manufacturers, who shipped the
brightly colored fabrics to colonial markets in Africa, where they
have since become markers of “authentic” African identity. Of his

Cultural Critique 52—Fall 2002—Copyright 2002 Regents of the University of Minnesota

09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 168


own “return” of these fabrics to Europe, Shonibare muses: “by mak-

ing hybrid clothes, I collapse the idea of a European dichotomy
against an African one. It becomes difWcult to work out where the
opposites are. There is no way you can work out the precise nation-
ality of my dresses, because they do not have one” (Waxman, 36).
Although Shonibare tends to read his own work consistently in this
culturalist way, as a critique of authenticity and as an evocation of
identity crises in a globalizing world, it is nonetheless possible to
see his vibrant fashion statements and satiric interiors as exposing
simultaneously a political-economic “unintentional truth” in which a
“dichotomy” is far more evident: the (occluded) reliance of European
wealth on imperial control of global trade, which literally put clothes
on the backs and furnished the houses of European elites in the colo-
nial period, and continues to underwrite global inequalities today.1
Economist magazine—hardly a left-wing publication—recently
enumerated some of the metropolitan strategies that reinforce global
structural inequality in relation to Africa, confessing:

The World Bank reckons that, if North America, Europe and Japan
were to eliminate all barriers to imports from sub-Saharan Africa, the
region’s exports would rise by 14%, an annual increase worth about $2.5
billion. Another calculation shows that developed countries’ farm sub-
sidies amount to over $360 billion a year, some $30 billion more than
Africa’s entire GDP. And while the prices of rich countries’ exports have
been rising, those of Africa’s primary products have, on average, been
falling (by 25% in 1997–99). Nor has the rich world always been at pains
to promote good government in Africa. During the cold war, it was
happy to Wght its wars through African proxies, to prop up corrupt
regimes and sell them weapons with which to suppress their subjects
and swell their foreign debt. Partly as a result, that debt has been crush-
ing for Africa: several countries have been spending more on service
payments than on education and health. Meanwhile the aid that helped
to assuage western consciences has often been tied to western exports.
(“Africa’s Elusive Dawn,” 17)

When confronted with such political-economic realities (and these

are merely the tip of the iceberg, being limited to mainstream econo-
mists’ understandings of what matters), any suggestion that it is
“difWcult to work out where the opposites are” starts to look suspect.
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 169


The point here is not to suggest that Shonibare’s intended critiques of

binaries in order to combat racism are irrelevant, but rather that they
have swept the metropolitan critical Weld (where Shonibare has been
taken up quite alacritously) so decisively that attention to speciWc
historical conditions that serve to anchor and privilege certain geo-
political (or even local social) relations often go by the wayside.
However salutary poststructuralism has been in making theoret-
ical room for Xuidity and hybridity, then, it still behooves us to
remember that Britain would never have become “itself” without
imperialism. As Raymond Williams has put it in the course of his
monumental The Country and the City: “what was happening in . . . the
metropolitan economy, determined and was determined by what
was made to happen in . . . the vast regions beyond it, in other peo-
ple’s lands” (279). Recognizing deWnite dominators and dominated
in this way provides a rationale for reparations and redress that are
otherwise obscured by what Cynthia Enloe has called the “politics of
invisibility,” in which the fundamental assumptions and practices of
capitalism, abetted by everyday habits of consumption, ignorance,
and averted eyes in the metropole, enable miserable working con-
ditions, poverty wages, unequal trade and the reproduction and
manipulation of gender and racial hierarchies (149). Thus, in Enloe’s
view, reading our way beyond the world according to transnational
corporations and their governmental and cultural support systems
demands that we recognize that there is actual “blame, credit and
responsibility to apportion” for the current state of the world, and,
most important, that if this world has been made to serve certain
interests, it can be unmade: “it becomes possible to imagine alterna-
tives” (3). The work of imagining alternatives to capitalism is, how-
ever, hampered when potentially devastating critiques (such as
Shonibare’s installations) are tamed by reinscription into more palat-
able narratives, such that identity crisis displaces domination and the
endless play of signiWers elbows exploitation from view.2 Against such
a dynamic, this essay, taking Walter Benjamin’s Berliner Chronik as its
focus, asserts that his critique of the “phantasmagoria”3—or dehistori-
cizing mythos—of capitalism in his later work, as well as the reading
strategies he proposed to resist its allure, remain relevant to the task
of anticapitalist struggle (which must necessarily be anti-imperialist
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 170


today) as long as their dialectical force is not derailed by certain vari-

eties of poststructuralist reinscription, which work to defuse it.
Before I begin to outline how Benjamin is best read in my view, I
want to give a brief example of an approach to his work I Wnd incom-
plete in ways similar to Shonibare’s self-analysis. Carol Jacobs reads
Berliner Chronik as a labyrinth that at any given moment offers mul-
tiple paths for exploration: “it is difWcult to orient ourselves in this
text, even if we heed Benjamin’s admonition to renounce the center,
difWcult to Wnd points of entry, to locate a place for commentary as
a vantage point from which to contemplate, a window, perhaps, a
threshold that might open before us the slate of Benjamin’s text” (25).
This is, of course, a familiar poststructuralist argument. For Jacobs, as
for so many who write about this aspect of Benjamin’s work, its dis-
continuities instruct us about problems of language and identity that
would not become theoretically elaborated more generally until years
later; he is poststructuralist avant la lettre, in their view, since he indi-
cates that life, space, time, and language are mise-en-abyme, always
pulling or pushing us further along just when we thought we had
Wnally got somewhere: “perhaps the labyrinths of which (and in
which) he writes . . . are always moving” (38). However, as we shall
see, “class” for Benjamin (nowhere mentioned—in its social sense—
in Jacobs’s chapter, although it is a central concept in Berliner Chronik)
is not so undecidable, or Xuid, as this kind of analysis would sug-
gest.4 Thus, while Jacobs is able to refer to Benjamin’s childhood en-
counter, in the parlor of an aunt, with a toy mine in which “little men
pushed wheelbarrows, labored with pickaxes, and shone lanterns
into the shafts in which buckets were winched perpetually up and
down,” only in purely metaphorical terms (discussing it as one among
several “mines of treasure” in the text referring to the elusive work—
or rather play—of memory), Benjamin’s preoccupation with class
encourages us to consider another interpretive possibility: the mine
as a critique of a world that consigns some actual people to such
“perpetual” labors, and others to comfortable contemplation of such
distant activities in the bourgeois parlors made possible by them
(“Berlin Chronicle,” 12). It is the evasion of this other perspective—a
view of what we might call the strategic binarization on which capi-
tal relies—less than Jacob’s attention to fragmentation, plurality, and
Xuidity, per se, which is problematic.5 I will be attempting to show
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 171


that the interruptive aspects of the text on which she focuses are
important, but that they have as their goal the critique of capital that
is rarely broached by critics such as Jacobs.
Peter Osborne has already rightly blasted such “post-structuralist”
readings of Benjamin as problematically reliant on a “providential
historicism” that Benjamin himself persistently decried, but I would
like to further insist (and lament) that they are directed, implicitly or
explicitly, to obscuring his Marxism and, thus, the ways in which
for him, as for Adorno, the fragmentary is privileged only in relation
to a totality hegemonized by capitalism that both critics wished to
see destroyed (300).6 As Susan Buck-Morss explains, for Benjamin
and Adorno “each particular was unique, yet each contained a picture
of the whole, an ‘image of the world,’ which within a Marxist
frame meant an image of the bourgeois social structure” (Origin, 76;
emphasis added). Taking Benjamin’s “dialectical images” seriously
as demanding an anticapitalist reading practice, I want to turn to
one such image that emerges in the Berliner Chronik, as Benjamin
opens a reXection on his venture-capitalist father’s various business
transactions, and indicate its anti-imperialist potential. To be sure,
Benjamin’s work is not an obvious place to seek a critique of imperi-
alism—indeed, a previous critic’s attempt to consider such a possibil-
ity has been met with derision.7 But as Fredric Jameson suggests
in the third of the epigraphs that begin this paper, obvious places are
not the only ones—perhaps not even the most important ones—
to put on the itinerary when pursuing the imbrication of imperial-
ism and European modernism, an insight that owes something to
Adorno’s and Benjamin’s own tendencies to seek out truth in un-
likely, seemingly trivial or marginal objects or locations.8 That I will
be taking up my larger point about how to read a marginal(ized)
aspect of Benjamin’s writing by way of his reference to one such
object—a sculpture of a “Moor” that found its way into the house-
hold of his childhood—should, thus, be considered methodologically
signiWcant. Although it is typical to search out the moments when
“imperialism” Wnds its way into a Euromodernist text in order to
expose complicities, I want instead to propose that in certain circum-
stances critique might also be discovered in such sites and to suggest
that the complicity emerges rather in our failure to detect, amplify,
and continue the critique.
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 172


In fact, given the preoccupation of the Berliner Chronik with

pointing the reader toward whatever capitalism would render invis-
ible, this image of the Moor may well be the most symptomatically
neglected in the Benjamin criticism:

the real token of my father’s profession in our apartment was a Moor

[Mohr], almost life-size, who stood on a gondola [Gondel] reduced to
one-thirtieth of its size, holding with one hand an oar that could be
taken out, and lifting on the other a golden bowl. This work of art was
made of wood, the Moor black [schwarz], the gondola and oar glow-
ing in many colors beneath the varnish. The whole, however, was so
urgently oriented toward its companion piece that I cannot tell today
whether a second Moor, whom I imagine with it, really stood there orig-
inally or is a creature of my imagination. (“Berlin Chronicle,” 37–38;
Berliner Chronik, 75)

Benjamin says nothing further about this “work of art,” but the seem-
ingly incidental mention of the sculpture of the Moor invites many
questions. He emphasizes in this same section that the transactions in
which his father engages Xood the household with a curious assort-
ment of commodities remarkable to the young Benjamin principally
because of their derivation from places and people “never seen”
(niemals in mein Blickfeld traten) by the son (Berliner Chronik, 74). What
does the Moor have to tell us in its context of a generalized invisibil-
ity—a world of capital that the child Benjamin knows only from
indistinct fragments, such as snatches of telephone conversation,
labels on commodities, passing mentions of names at the dinner table,
and fantasy images of his father’s whereabouts when he was away
on business? And, above all, why is the “real token” (eigentliche Wahr-
zeichen) of the relation to the world of a German venture-capitalist in
the early twentieth century a representation of an African holding out
a golden bowl, an African, furthermore, who seems to be “oriented
toward” (angewiesen [auf], dependent on) a (possibly) absent com-
panion? My claim is this: the Mohr should be read as an analogue to
the much-discussed Wgure of the Hure (whore) in this text—both
being deployed in the course of Benjamin’s late work toward “awak-
ening” metropolitan subjects from the capitalist dreamworld, or
phantasmagoria; it is important to pay attention to the former as well
as the latter because the Moor in Berlin reminds us that the dream
of capital is global, not merely local, in its desires and effects, as the
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 173


context of European imperialism during Benjamin’s childhood and

at the moment of the writing of his Berliner Chronik offers ample
It will not be my task here to “prove” that Benjamin was con-
sciously anti-imperialist, though I think such a case could be made.
Rather, I want to insist that his work inculcates a reading practice
useful to anti-imperial critique, whatever his intentions, and that this
reading practice is particularly evident in his later experimental
and explicitly Marxist texts. As is well known, Benjamin turned
increasingly to Marxist concepts in his work from 1924 onward.9 To
be sure, Gershom Scholem and others would greet this turn to Marx-
ist thinking with skepticism, but Benjamin persistently defended
himself against charges that his use of Marxism was superWcial or
that Marxism had rendered his own work superWcial: “the most trite
Communist platitude possesses more hierarchies of meaning than does
contemporary bourgeois profundity, which has only one meaning,
that of an apologetic” (Correspondence, 372–73; emphasis in original).
This imperative to read deeply is particularly crucial in late texts such
as the Berliner Chronik, which interrogates bourgeois social relations
along lines laid out in Capital I, where Marx proffers the prosthetic
lenses of historical materialism by which “the secret of proWt-making
[is] . . . laid bare” (280). In exposing this secret, what Marx lays bare is
the social: “the mysterious character of the commodity form consists
. . . simply in the fact that the commodity reXects the social character-
istics of men’s own labour as objective characteristics of the products
of labour themselves” (164–65; emphasis added). Marx viewed capi-
tal’s depredations, like Poe’s purloined letter and Ellison’s invisible
man, as paradoxically hidden right before “visible” people’s eyes.
To dissolve the mystery, to read the “social hieroglyphic” of the
commodity, is to return men to a proper understanding of their real
social relations. Behind the relentless, even violent, visibility of capi-
talist modernity, then, with its panoptic surveillance, photographic
and Wlmic exposure, the continuous optic schooling of desire by
the advertising system, the shop window, the beguiling luster of
the commodity form, huddles the weak and deformed sociality of
capitalism, awaiting transformation to an “association of free men
[and women] . . . expending their many different forms of labor
power in full self-awareness as one single social labour force” (171).
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 174


This “spectre of communism,” as Marx and Engels had put it earlier

in the Manifesto, hovering on the threshold between invisibility and
apprehension, suppression and realization, (dis)embodies the desire
for sociality redeemed (2). The Wgure of the whore in Benjamin’s texts
has often been recognized as inhabiting this threshold.10 On the one
hand, she signals capitalism’s reduction to thingliness of the human,
whether sold by the hour or for an hourly wage. On the other hand,
even as commodity, she fails to relinquish her human form, thus
potentially entangling the buyer in a nagging inkling of the social
relations that commodiWcation usually completely obscures. As we
shall see, the Berliner Chronik, continuing Marx’s emphasis on the
social, characterizes the promised land beyond such commodiWca-
tion as “real social existence” (wirkliches gesellschaftliches Dasein)
(“Berlin Chronicle,” 10; Berliner Chronik, 23). Benjamin’s Moor, too,
inhabits this threshold between subjection and real social existence
with the whore, and further insists that the whole world must be
accounted for if real social existence is to be obtained.
The Moor—and the meaning I am attaching to it—has gone
unnoticed hitherto, I suspect, because of the curious marginalization
of German imperialism in the enormous scholarly output on Walter
Benjamin’s work.11 Calling attention to this absence, I draw on recent
cultural and historiographic studies that have been emphasizing
the negative effects of the neglect of the broad workings of the impe-
rialist imagination in Germany, and focusing attention not only on
the short-lived (1884–1918)—but ideologically important—German
overseas empire, but also on the imperialist understandings of Ger-
many’s place in the world that preceded and followed the period of
formal colonialism.12 What this work suggests—though you would
be hard-pressed to know it from the bulk of Benjamin scholarship—
is that imperialism was a fact of everyday life in the capital city into
which Benjamin was born in 1892. Germany entered the colonial pro-
ject late in relation to rival European nations, which fueled elite
urgency about global politics and the balance of power in the late
nineteenth century. Otto von Bismarck, who had led the transforma-
tion of a continental archipelago of states into a uniWed Germany
in 1871, was, at Wrst, publicly disinterested in overseas expansion, but
by the mid-1880s he had reversed his position entirely, and eagerly
hosted—in Berlin—the West Africa Conference, that infamous series
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 175


of meetings of metropolitan states that recognized Germany as a seri-

ous contender for colonial power for the Wrst time as it helped to
establish criteria for dispute resolution among the conference atten-
dees as they competed with each other to subordinate uncolonized
parts of Africa to their formal control.13 Pressured by industrialists
and speculators with interests in various colonizable regions, nation-
alist politicians concerned about competition with the sizable empires
of France and England, and members of the “colonization societies,”
such as the Kolonialverein, who began agitating for German territor-
ial expansion in the early 1880s in order to promote German Kultur,
Bismarck had begun to pursue colonial policy in earnest. By 1914, the
German overseas empire covered over a million square miles, popu-
lated by some fourteen million people, mostly in Africa, but also
extending eastward to include several PaciWc islands and a foothold
in China, with the 1898 acquisition of Kiao Chow (Jiaozhou).14
This is not to suggest that German colonialism was especially
successful from an economic point of view for Germany as a whole
(though there were considerable fortunes amassed by individual
traders and investors). The report of the U.S. delegation on colonial
matters to the Paris Peace Conference after World War I, when Ger-
many was forced to relinquish all of its overseas colonies, pointed
out that white settlement, raw materials extraction, trade, and even
German cultural dissemination were all minimal in them (Beer,
10–11). Indeed, except for tiny Togo and, when not disrupted by
conXict, Kiao Chow, the German colonies had been vast Wnancial
sinkholes. Many millions of marks had to be spent in establishing
administrative outposts, technical infrastructure, assisting the other
European powers in keeping China subordinated to its interests as
much as possible, and, especially, brutally suppressing large rebel-
lions in the African possessions. In Southwest Africa, for example,
German forces pursued what amounted to an extermination policy
against the Herero and Nama peoples to undermine their resistance
movements, with effects of widespread devastation and massive
loss of life. The colonies were so spectacularly unsuccessful econom-
ically, and resulted in so many public relations difWculties, in fact,
that continued broad support for them can only be explained in other
terms: in their signiWcance as tools of propaganda and cultural sym-
bolism at home, and their value as evidence of global ambition to
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 176


hold up to European rivals. Acquisition and maintenance of colonies

was directed in large part to securing Berlin’s place as a “world
city” (Weltstadt) for inhabitants anxiously aware of the greater impe-
rialist cachet of London or Paris, and, above all, to “assert [Germany]
as a world power,” as Woodruff Smith has emphasized (“Colonial-
ism,” 437).15 The existence of the colonies was thus made elaborately
visible in Germany during Benjamin’s childhood and youth. To be
sure, alongside the references to the glories of empire, scandals and
doubts about the colonies were recorded in the press and fought out
in the Reichstag (the left being, for the most part, vehemently anti-
imperialist), but whether excoriated or celebrated, the overseas pos-
sessions were dramatically manifest.16
As with the commodity form, however, this hypervisibility, this
insistent display, at least on the part of procolonial factions, was
accompanied by obliterations, exclusions, and invisible countertexts.
The extermination policy in the African colonies was one example
of this, as the Wrst epigraph for this paper indicates.17 As people with
desires, needs, and rights to control their own lives, the colonized
must necessarily become invisible to the colonizer. This invisibility
was not restricted to the settler colonies by any means, and resulted
from the fact that the colonial relation was predicated on the useful-
ness of the colonized land and peoples for the colonizer. Often this
rationale was dressed up in the rhetoric of a mission of salvation
or civilization to the colonized, but only in the context of the use
of colonies to solve problems of various kinds for the colonizer, as
supplier of raw materials; market for excess metropolitan produc-
tion; destination for emigration; exotic training site for the ambitious
in the military, trade, professions, and civil service; pawn in inter-
national politics among the colonizing powers; and, of course, a
source of proWts. John Stuart Mill’s Principles of Political Economy
was straightforward about this, describing colonies in general as
“outlying agricultural or manufacturing establishments belonging
to a larger community,” and the British West Indian colonies in
particular as “the place where England Wnds it convenient to carry
on the production of sugar, coffee and a few other tropical commodi-
ties” (685–86).18 Though Germany’s colonies, unlike England’s, were
rather a disappointment to it, hopes for their usefulness on this
English model continued high, which required that a colony’s use to
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 177


Germany be privileged over any local desire, which had to be (was)

brutally repressed.
A second dialectic of (in)visibility, however, is equally important.
Many historians have noted that, in general, business and industrial
enthusiasm for colonization was muted or nonexistent as German
capital set about establishing what Wolfgang Mommsen has called
“informal economic imperialism” instead.19 What he meant by this
is simply that the strength of the German economy, with its robust
rate of growth and its rapid rise to the position of one of the top
world trading participants in the later nineteenth and earlier twenti-
eth centuries, was predicated not on direct colonial relations but on
production for export, monopolization, cartel formation, and a rise
in participation in international Wnancial markets—circulations of
capital that have been described by W. O. Henderson as “invisible
exports” (241). While the colonies got a lot of very public attention, it
was the quieter mechanisms of political-economic positioning that
secured Germany’s place in the global trading hierarchy. Economic
historians have even suggested that the relative lack and eventual
loss of colonies was a real advantage, since it forced German compa-
nies “to cope with the vagaries of and the keen competition on the
world market.” Hence, even after the massive World War I losses of
the colonies and other territory, Germany “was still integrated into
the international division of labor, exporting industrial products and
importing foodstuffs and raw materials” so that the losses were not
so devastating as they otherwise might have been (Braun, 20–21, 33).
In any case, with or without colonies, the fundamental assumption
that as much of the rest of the world as possible should be rendered
useful to it did not wane in Germany (to the contrary, it arguably
increased in the postwar period).20 And without colonies, informal
economic imperialism was, necessarily, the set of practices through
which Germany’s political and economic goals were actually pur-
sued and accomplished. It is crucial that we recognize that this is so,
as it explains how it happened that when Germany ceased to be a
colonial power, it remained a great imperial power. Colonies, Lenin
understood well, are not the only means by which imperial power
is fueled. Imperialism is the global form of capital, by no means
reducible to colonialism alone; rather it encompasses the networks of
banking, production, and trade established to beneWt some peoples
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 178


over others at the global level—”the struggle for economic territory,”

not only colonies (Lenin, 75).
As we have already seen, the explicitness of colonialism can even
be considered a liability to an imperial state since the ideal situation
for the beneWciaries of global unevenness is one in which whatever
brutalities or inequalities result from it appear to be natural (drought,
famine, overpopulation), or just (an effect of refusals to institute
“free” markets or austerity programs, ineptitude and “corruption”),
or at least inevitable, if sad (“the poor will always be with us”).
For this appearance to succeed, any strategies deployed to maintain
local and global inequalities must remain generally invisible. As
Immanuel Wallerstein has put it:

Unequal exchange is an ancient practice. What was remarkable about

capitalism as a historical system was the way in which this unequal
exchange could be hidden. . . . By that we mean that actual prices always
seemed to be negotiated in a world market on the basis of impersonal
economic forces. The enormous apparatus of latent force (openly used
sporadically in wars and colonization) has not had to be invoked in
each separate transaction to ensure that the exchange was unequal.
Rather, the apparatus of force came into play only when there were
signiWcant challenges to the existing level of unequal exchange. Once
the acute political conXict was past, the world’s entrepreneurial classes
could pretend that the economy was operating solely by considera-
tions of supply and demand, without acknowledging how the world-
economy had historically arrived at a particular point of supply and
demand, and what structures of force were sustaining at that very
moment the “customary” differentials in levels of wages and of the real
quality of life of the world’s work forces. (31–33; emphasis added)

Thus, even after Germany’s loss of colonies in 1918, the basic struc-
ture of globally institutionalized inequality could (and did) remain
intact—indeed, intensiWed as German capital slowly worked its way
toward the dominant economic position in Europe, albeit not without
setbacks caused by vicissitudes of economic cycles and the depreda-
tions of the wars.
I have already indicated two mechanisms through which this
globally instituted inequality was sanctioned: the “visibility” of the
colonizer’s agenda at the cost of the (attempted, at least) obliteration
of the colonized, and the assumption that inequalities that result
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 179


from either formal or (especially) informal imperialism are natural

and just, an assumption that requires an extremely selective view of
the world. I will turn now to the role played by images of “blackness”
in German culture as sites through which such (in)visibilities were
negotiated, in relation to Africa in particular. German ethnographic
collections; periodicals and monographs; live displays of “primitive”
peoples in zoos, circuses, and like venues; colonial and “adventure”
literature; the reception of entertainment by black (American and
African) stage performers; understandings of art (collected from the
colonies, as well as the extensive use of its techniques in European
expressivist and primitivist works); travel writing; and so on, all
in their own ways, participated in this process of rendering subor-
dinated peoples (in)visible, sometimes in spite of their ostensible
goals.21 Indeed, European primitivism, although its stated agenda
included a critique of European rationalism and civilization, is a telling
example of the suspect ways that colonial culture had become part of
the idiom of intellectual life in the high imperialist moment. As
numerous critics have now observed, primitivist art, which thrived
in the interwar years, rarely successfully eluded Eurocentrism in
spite of its celebration of “primal” non-Europe.22 Indeed, its assump-
tions situated “primitive” peoples in the childhood of humankind
(albeit transvalued as desirable), and took it for granted that the
world of artistic form was Europe’s for the appropriating. Both
assumptions were all too compatible with imperialism, which also
saw the “primitive” world as temporally “behind” Europe, and all
the world’s resources as properly belonging to it.
To be sure, some European artworks are more easily deployed
against Eurocentrism than others, and it is here that we might look
for clues as how best to read Benjamin. The dada montage artist,
Hannah Höch, for example, had been clipping images from German
ethnographic journals as well as news and fashion magazines all
during the twenties to produce a series of collages called “From
an Ethnographic Museum,” which juxtaposed fragmented represen-
tations of non-European persons and objects with European ones,
foregrounding their mediation through European venues, such as
museums and mass publications.23 These works deploy difference
in scale, coloring, and so on to produce disorienting Wgures who
remain oddly disconnected even when all body parts are more or
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 180


less present. “Die Süße” (“The Sweet One”), for example, features an
anthropological photograph of a large mask from the French Congo—
pasted over with made-up eyes and lips from European fashion
glossies—perched over the elongated torso of a Bushongo idol from
which a shapely pair of very white and high-heeled legs emerge. A
white left hand, much larger than the right hand (intact on the idol’s
torso), Xoats armlessly and eerily over the abdomen of the composite.
Unlike most primitivist arts in Europe that referenced the supposedly
more authentic, mythic, and spontaneous works of non-Europeans
as an attack on the losses that reason, civilization, and commodiWca-
tion had visited on the metropolis, Höch’s montages here as else-
where seem to have the quite different agenda of calling into question
the conventions of representation in mass publications, which
fetishize the female form, the primitive other, and nature alike (see
Makela, 70–72). Her montages show fragments in struggle, rather
than organizing themselves into a tidy gestalt. Illustrating contradic-
tion, they disallow reassurance. At the same time, the very target of
their critique—representations as disseminated via media and muse-
ums—calls to attention the institutions over which some people,
within and outside the metropole, have more control than others:
thus Höch’s images work by fragmenting the all too seamless metro-
politan worldview inculcated by such institutions. As Maud Lavin
and Maria Makela both point out, Höch does this by carefully posi-
tioning many of the composite images on pedestals, emphasizing
their display function, and, of course, by implicating the “museum”
in the title of the series, as well as by selecting, and transporting to
new, disorienting settings, images from wide-distribution publica-
tions that viewers easily could have received at home. In these ways
Höch exposes the mystified efforts of the purveyors of images who,
in early Birmingham School terms, had gained crucial control over
the “deWnition of the situation,” and suggested that to redeWne the
situation, the conditions that give rise to such deWnitions must also
be changed.24
In the places where Benjamin’s approach accomplishes a similar
task of disruption and reorientation of perspective, it attains its great-
est power. For it is only rarely in the texts of European modernism, in
work such as Höch’s, that global relations so emphatically refuse to
settle into a celebratory mélange and thus are able to point us toward
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 181


a world of exploitation and domination that capitalism attempts to

keep invisible. As Frantz Fanon would complain: “European opu-
lence is literally scandalous, for it has been founded on slavery, it has
been nourished with the blood of slaves and it comes directly from
the soil and from the subsoil of that underdeveloped world. The
well-being and the progress of Europe have been built up with the
sweat and the dead bodies of Negroes, Arabs, Indians, and the yel-
low races” (96). So long as the existence of this theft, which Anouar
Abdel-Malek calls “historical surplus value,” remains mystiWed,
chances for its redress are nonexistent, as the debate on reparations at
the 2001 UN conference on racism illustrated so dramatically. While
the political force of even the most challenging of the primitivist
images was often muted by the unequal global context in which they
circulate(d)—since they could so easily be made to help shield from
view ways in which imperialism made possible a certain quality of
life (including frenetic levels of artistic production) in Europe at a
very high cost to other peoples—Höch and Benjamin, I would sug-
gest, direct our attention precisely to the dialectic of (in)visibility,
implicitly refusing closure to imperial ideologies.
SpeciWcally, Benjamin’s Moor functions as an image in the
Berliner Chronik through which imperial relations are gestured at,
just as the (much discussed) image of the whore is the site in which
class relations in Berlin are Wgured; in other words, the Moor is best
understood in terms of the speciWc type of capitalism that developed
during Benjamin’s lifetime: its imperial mode. The Moor’s imperial
meaning can be deciphered, I think, if we take a hint from Fredric
Jameson, as I suggested in the third epigraph.25 One of the things that
we can discover along these lines in the Wgure of the Moor is that the
“truth of . . . experience [of capitalism] no longer coincides with the
place in which it takes place” (Jameson, “Cognitive,” 349). While the
sculpture apparently did not offer itself as a critique of capitalism
while ensconced in the bourgeois interior of his childhood, it is forced
to take on other signiWcations when Benjamin resituates it in the
Berliner Chronik as a key to opening the “mystery” of capital. SpeciW-
cally, it suggests that capitalism relies not only on local class relations,
but also on global ones.
To understand the Moor in this way, we must Wrst tease out the
class analysis of Berliner Chronik and consider its relation to the form
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 182


of this text. The Berliner Chronik presents us with a series of disjunc-

tive vignettes that are thematically interrelated without ever forming
an entirely coherent whole; in this respect it is similar to a Höch
photomontage. It begins with a tour of the Berlin to which a wealthy
child is introduced by nursemaids, meanders through the city un-
veiled by a succession of other guides, makes a stop at the aunt’s
parlor with the “glass rhombus containing the mine,” which I dis-
cussed earlier, pulls us into the Kaiser Friedrich School for a bit
and then into the meetinghouse of the Berlin Free Students’ Union,
and so on, through cafés, shops, houses, down streets, over to Paris;
the text leaps about temporally and spatially with abandon, between
childhood and adulthood, and from one fragment of city to another.26
Since Berliner Chronik was left incomplete at Benjamin’s death, claims
about its form cannot be predicated on the placement of particular
vignettes, but only on the generally disjunctive aspect of the text,
which it shares with others of Benjamin’s post-1924 work, from One
Way Street (1928) to the (also incomplete) Arcades Project. The order-
ing principle for all these bits and pieces in Berliner Chronik is the
narrative “I,” Benjamin’s persona, but “Benjamin” emphasizes that
the “I” unfolds only in its spaces, implying that the subject is no more
coherent than the city-morcelé of the text.27
As with Höch’s work, then, the reader of Berliner Chronik is
shuttled between coherence and its abeyance, an abeyance, however,
that we learn has a class origin. Benjamin repeatedly uses words and
images indicating the isolation, imprisonment, and limits of the bour-
geois subject; this isolation leads not to wholeness but to the impossi-
bility of achieving it. Benjamin’s boyhood schoolmates are described
as prisoners—without any sense of inmate solidarity. To the contrary,
the adult Benjamin recalls the “multitude” (Masse) of his class (in
both senses; Klasse is cognate across meanings in German and Eng-
lish) with “revulsion” and reports that “solitude [Alleinsein—literally,
“being-alone”] appeared to [him] as the only Wt state of man” when
confronted by his schoolfellows (“Berlin Chronicle,” 12–13; Berliner
Chronik, 27). Although solidarity was promised by school songs (so
effective ideologically as to arouse “inWnite melancholy” even in
young Benjamin), school actually offered a series of “catastrophic
encounters” and “alien[ating] and threatening [befremdlichen und
bedrohlichen] circumstances” that opened an “abyss” between himself
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 183


and others (“Berlin Chronicle,” 14–15; Berliner Chronik, 30–31). These

images of enclosure and isolation in Berliner Chronik indicate Ben-
jamin’s perceived lack of commonalty with his class (both because of
the atomization imposed by capitalist social relations in general, and
his own adult disenchantment with his class of origin). “A mob of
school children,” he insists, “is among the most formless and ignoble
[gestaltlosesten und unwürdigsten] of all masses, and betrays its
bourgeois origin in representing, like every assembly of that class, the
most rudimentary organizational form that its individual members
can give their reciprocal relationships” (“Berlin Chronicle,” 13). In
other words, atomization undermines the possibility of bourgeois
solidarity in any meaningful sense, however tightly pressed together
individuals may be, rendering their gegenseitiges Verhältnis (reciprocal
relation) extremely limited (Berliner Chronik, 28).
Not only do bourgeois subjects fail to achieve real social relations
with each other, but they are also cut off from fully human engage-
ment with other classes—a more serious divide. Thus, school is only
one site in which Benjamin discovers the limits of his “class”—one
of the words that he describes as having been introduced to as an
experience in very early childhood, long before he knew its meaning
in either its schoolroom or social senses, the latter of which he would
not be acquainted with for “two decades” (“Berlin Chronicle,” 44).
Linking the two meanings of “class” in the Berliner Chronik, Benjamin
likens his school experience of estrangement—the “abyss”—explic-
itly to the gap he felt open up between his mother and himself,
Wgured in the “pedantic care with which . . . [he] always kept half a
step behind her” during walks through the city (4). Since his mother
is identiWed as the emblem in the Berliner Chronik of bourgeois “tra-
dition,” his reluctance to keep up with her signals more than a famil-
ial rift. She mediates his relation to “ofWcial” commercial Berlin:
the shops in which clothing and other provisions were acquired, the
sites of “the false worship that humiliated [her] . . . before idols . . . An
impenetrable chain of mountains, no, caverns of commodities—that
was ‘the town’“ (“Berlin Chronicle,” 40). Along with this consumerist
relation to “the town,” these excursions signiWed a class relation,
which rendered much of the city off-limits and invisible by “enclos-
ing him in the district [in sein Wohnviertel schloß] where he lived”
with “the class that had pronounced him one of their number”
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 184


(“Berlin Chronicle,” 10; Berliner Chronik, 23). In such a context, Ben-

jamin observes, a wealthy child’s Wrst sustained confrontation with
poverty is typically a literary and imaginary one. He recalls in partic-
ular a story he composed himself about a man obliged to walk about
encased in an advertising placard who, frustrated that passersby
refuse to take his Xyers, “secretly jettisoned his entire consignment.”
The adult Benjamin associates this “unfruitful” gesture with “sabo-
tage and anarchism,” and likens its misguidedness to that of the
intellectual unable to “see things clearly” [zur Einsicht in die Dinge
zu kommen] (“Berlin Chronicle,” 11; Berliner Chronik, 24). He further
likens it to his own laggard pace during walks with his mother,
which he attributed to “the stubborn refusal under any circumstances
to form a united front, be it even with . . . [her].” The Berliner Chronik
can be read, I would suggest, as a quest for a more “fruitful” solution
to this predicament than that offered by the class-limited city and its
cloudy-eyed intellectuals; it is an attempt to imagine another mode
of living, awakening the possibility of a liberatory “united front,” or
“real social existence” [wirklichen gesellschaftlichen Daseins], a con-
cept introduced in this section about his mother—but only to mark
the ways in which the whole structure of bourgeois life prevented
one from attaining it (“Berlin Chronicle,” 11; Berliner Chronik, 24).
The text’s entanglement of place, time, and subjectivity reveals
above all that the “I,” like the memories it generates, is social rather
than private (enclosed), though bourgeois everyday life is organized
in such a way as to deny this as much as possible.28 For this reason, to
read the Berliner Chronik’s fragmented form as celebratory, or even
as a reXection of an irreducible condition, is to seriously mistake
Benjamin’s purpose. Fragmentation in this text evokes capitalist
atomization and estrangement, which is historical and therefore not
irremediable. This does not mean, of course, that the redeeming of
the fragmented world is a simple matter or that struggles for “real
social existence” are not fraught with missteps and blindness, as
Benjamin’s own youthful attempts to attain it attest.
The stakes of this struggle, and their pitfalls, are worked out most
emphatically for Benjamin in the memories that cluster around the
meetinghouse he rented as president of the Free Students’ Union.
Adult Benjamin emphasizes that it was “as sharply divided from pro-
letarian youth as the houses of this rentiers’ quarter were from those
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 185


of Moabit [working-class neighborhood], and these houses were the

last of their line just as the occupants of those apartments were
the last who could appease the clamorous shades of the dispossessed
[die fordernden Schatten der Enterbten] with philanthropic cere-
monies” (“Berlin Chronicle,” 18; Berliner Chronik, 38). The city could
not be preserved in this form (spatial or social), the mature Benjamin
muses, and achieve even the limited goals of the Union (“a Wnal,
heroic attempt to change the attitudes of people without changing
their circumstances”). Ultimately the contradictions of his youthful
politics, when conjured up by Benjamin’s memory, elicit the realiza-
tion that “the city of Berlin would also not be spared the scars of
struggle for a better order.” Schools and households cannot be im-
proved without “destroying the state that needs bad ones” (“Berlin
Chronicle,” 20; Berliner Chronik, 42). The youth movement is thus
ultimately recognized as no better an engagement with “the dispos-
sessed” than his childhood imaginings of them, both being predi-
cated on a certain dialectic of (in)visibility. The class-limited politics
of his youth, which managed to press him up against the Landwehr
Canal “that marked the [bourgeois] district off from the proletarian
quarters” but kept him from going further, left the working-class
inhabitants on the opposite shore literally unknown, although young
Benjamin believed he was working on their behalf (“Berlin Chroni-
cle,” 18). His early politics failed because, for true social justice to
emerge, what needed to change were the economic, political, social,
and cultural conditions that enabled the bourgeoisie to remain segre-
gated in their neighborhoods, unaware not only of “the poor” in any
distinct way, but also that “the poor” were actually “dispossessed,”
which implies a denied relation to the wealth of the city from which
the Landwehr Canal divided them symbolically and practically.29
Given such a sociospatial situation, it is not surprising that
having described—and critiqued—the “enclosures” of the city as
they formed him, Benjamin seeks out “thresholds” (Schwellen) that
(he hopes) will permit movement beyond boundaries both spatial
and social: the utopian possibilities in dystopian Berlin as he rum-
mages about in the “junk room [Abstellraum] of the West End bour-
geoisie” (“Berlin Chronicle,” 20; Berliner Chronik, 42). The whore
emerges prominently at this point as the Wguration of both this desire
and the impossibility of attaining it under conditions of capitalism:
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 186


There is no doubt at any rate, that a feeling of crossing the threshold

[Schwelle] of one’s class for the Wrst time had a part in the almost
unequaled fascination of publicly accosting a whore in the street. At the
beginning, however, this was a crossing of frontiers [Schwelle(n)] not
only social but topographical, in the sense that whole networks of
streets were opened up under the auspices of prostitution. But is it
really a crossing, is it not, rather, an obstinate and voluptuous hovering
on the brink [Schwelle], a hesitation that has its most cogent motive in
the circumstance that beyond this frontier [Schwelle] lies nothingness
[Nichts]? But the places are countless in the great cities where one
stands on the edge [Schwelle] of the void [Nichts], and the whores in the
doorways [in den Haustoren] of tenement blocks and on the less
sonorous asphalt of railway platforms are like the household goddesses
of this cult of nothingness [Nichts]. (“Berlin Chronicle,” 11; Berliner
Chronik, 25)

Benjamin’s repeated use of “Schwelle” (threshold) in this passage is

extremely insistent in the German text, where it appears Wve times
in only these few lines. Although the English translation in ReXections
renders “Schwelle” a number of different ways (threshold, frontier,
brink, edge), it seems signiWcant to me that Benjamin so often chose
here a “homey” border word—evoking the intimate apertures of
bourgeois households, sills of doors (Türschwellen)—eschewing, for
example, “Grenze” (border, boundary) with its emphatically statist
connotations.30 This continual reference to the boundaries of the
private household extended out into the West End as a whole seems
to transform the neighborhood into the private house of a class, and
young Benjamin’s (attempted) escape from it seems to undermine
that enclosure. However, we Wnd by the end of the passage that
the threshold is never really crossed, which intensiWes the sense of
boundedness. Young Benjamin (ostensibly) comes up to “the void”
but goes no further.
Nevertheless, for adult Benjamin, the very site of youthful limit is
a (potential) site of transformation later on. The paragraph on the
void begins with a reminder that the images being presented are
memories and cannot be extricated from the “Medium” (cognate
with English) in which they emerge: “the present [Gegenwart] in
which the writer lives” (“Berlin Chronicle,” 10; Berliner Chronik, 23).
The memory-image, with the present as its new setting, makes it pos-
sible for the remembering subject to see the past events in a “new and
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 187


disturbing [befremdlichen, estranging] articulation,” prompting the

recognition that the pampered and protected child was “enclosed”
and “conWned” to the “afXuent quarter” in which he was born,
utterly excluded from any real knowledge of his class “other,” whom
he imagines, if at all, as living in “the back of beyond” (auf dem Dorfe),
a region about which he knows nothing (“Berlin Chronicle,” 11;
Berliner Chronik, 23). This absolute divide of knowledge and space,
imposed and learned in earliest childhood, might give rise to the
notion that the bourgeois world is all there is, or at least all there
is worth knowing or inhabiting—the rest consigned to “Nichts”—
nothingness. The resulting poverty of imagination concerning other
possible worlds thus marks (and limits) the class. The shock of an
“estranging,” discordant image confronting the subject from the
depths of the temporal (and/or geographical) distance can, however,
rupture the mystifying social void in which the bourgeois subject
habitually lives. In this instance the shocking image is that of the
whore (Hure)—not morally, but materially. The whore is one of
Benjamin’s favored images of modernity because she embodies the
dialectic, as I noted earlier. She is, thus, a threshold Wgure par excel-
lence, hinting at a realm beyond the imprisoning relations of capi-
talism, while herself remaining subordinated to them. In Berliner
Chronik, however, she also indicates that thresholds are not crossed by
the young Benjamin, even when he is attempting to do so, because
boundaries inhabit the classed subject who is himself “enclosed” as a
private individual. Purchasing the wares of the “Hure” is not ulti-
mately transgressive, although it might feel that way to the bourgeois
youth; such transactions merely reinforce the conditions of capitalism
in which the selling of the self is the norm. However, when they reap-
pear in the Berliner Chronik, the whore and, as we shall see, the Moor
can disrupt this norm by directing us toward other possibilities.
Thus, the Berliner Chronik—in restaging memories—attempts a more
productive “threshold” activity than the young Benjamin was capa-
ble of, situated as he was by his class position to see things awry.
Given the Berliner Chronik’s project of offering an against-the-
grain view of capitalism, it is hard to imagine that it is insigniWcant
that the section of it in which the Moor surfaces is speciWcally con-
cerned with the “mystery” or “secret” (Geheimnis) of capital accumu-
lation as it manifests itself in the upper-class household. Benjamin
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 188


speciWcally describes the bourgeois interior as a site in which global

fantasies are played out in the “Exposés” for The Arcades Project: “in
the interior, [the bourgeois householder] brings together the far away
and the long ago. His living room is a box in the theater of the world”
(9). The “Arcades” (forerunners of shopping malls) and “World Exhi-
bitions” provided a more grandiose version of the bourgeois interiors
that they helped inspire in world-encompassing directions, “a world
in miniature” (3).31 The problem with this “world” of the arcades,
exhibitions, and bourgeois interiors from Benjamin’s perspective is
that it is ruled by the commodity form and thus presents a distorted,
or obliterated, view of the exploitation required to maintain it: “its
ingenuity in representing inanimate objects corresponds to what
Marx calls the ‘theological niceties’ [fetishism] of the commodity” (7).
The inanimate, in other words, hides from view the actual workings
of the living world, with its networks of exploitative local and global
social relations. The Moor, then, like the whore elsewhere in the text,
can serve a “threshold” function, but this time for the nation rather
than the household alone: the bourgeois household being, it turns
out, a site in which (ideological) relations to the whole world, as a
Weld for (ostensibly) legitimate appropriation, are staged.
Against these legitimating narratives, the image of the Moor,
like the whore, works by offering a site of troubling contradictions
to view. On the one hand, Benjamin seems to suggest that his father
and the Moor—the “token” of his father’s profession, as he tells us—
are equivalent, but, on the other hand, he reminds us that the Moor,
as an artwork, is a commodity, something actually traded by his
father.32 The sculpture depicts a dealer in gold, a trader, like the elder
Benjamin, who has “connections with traders” and the “occult world
of business and traders,” but the sculpture is also itself traded (and
ultimately possessed) by Benjamin’s father, traded and possessed
in a world in which the relations between blacks and whites, Africa
and Europe are not equal (“Berlin Chronicle,” 36, 38). A text that
repeatedly calls attention to class inequalities and their structural
determinants at the local level invites an analogous exploration of
this exoticized image that, in any case, does not quite Wt tidily into the
local scene in a country in which the black population was very small
and for which “Africa” signiWed colonized space. Furthermore, a
black man sold at auction, as this sculpture was (it was acquired at
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 189


the auction house in which Benjamin’s father had been a partner),

even in efWgy and as art, could not but evoke a history of enslave-
ment in the Germany of Hegel’s Philosophy of History and a whole
panoply of related texts, reinforcing negative or, at best, paternalistic
images of blackness, even after the end of the slave trade as such.33
Indeed, Benjamin’s use of the archaic term “Mohr” to signify a black
African intensiWes the sense that we are meant to read the Wgure
historically.34 To the extent that blackness signiWed a history of slav-
ery to Europe, the “Mohr” like the “Hure” (who reappears at the end
of this section—evocatively dressed in a sailor suit) is a disconcert-
ingly liminal Wgure. Commodity and human in one, the slave is a
category mistake that illustrates and critiques the thingiWcation of the
human that capitalism, in Benjamin’s understanding, both requires
and obscures. Hence the Moor, like the whore, could evoke the mys-
tery of capital and its potential dissolution. However, the Moor’s
function must be in excess of, or at least other than, the whore’s,
or Benjamin could have relied on the whore alone to serve his pur-
poses in this place as well as elsewhere in his text. The excess of
the Moor in relation to the whore is that it wrenches the Berliner
Chronik and its understanding of capitalism into a necessarily and
explicitly international arena. The “Mohr” carries the trace of a his-
torical relation of theft and oppression between Europe and Africa—
a relation that, as we have seen, was a matter of particular concern
for image production in Germany during Benjamin’s childhood and
youth, which coincided almost year for year with the period of acqui-
sition, maintenance, and loss of Germany’s colonies.
In any case, there is no question that Benjamin understood osten-
sibly distant spaces to be implicated in each other. Indeed, Benjamin’s
illuminations about Berlin’s social relations are made possible only
by indirection, by the intervention of Paris, a city that—as Moscow
later on—taught Benjamin more about his native city than his birth-
place ever could have managed on its own.35 To choose Paris, a city
that Benjamin would soon refer to as the “capital of the nineteenth
century,” as a guide to Berlin is necessarily to draw Benjamin’s natal
city into international relations through association with another city
unambiguously recognized as global in its stature and imperial in its
reach. Benjamin’s perspective is not that of the celebratory, or even
weary, cosmopolitanism of the modernist that Raymond Williams so
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 190


disparaged; rather Benjamin insists on the radical incompleteness

of every space, culture, subject, and language, a position that he
returns to in his work again and again.36 Indeed, the relation of Paris
to Berlin that Benjamin describes in the Berliner Chronik is analogous
to the relation between French and German in Benjamin’s translation
theory—an unsurprising intertwining given that Benjamin “trans-
lated” both the linguistic and spatial boundaries between the two
frequently in his lifetime.37 For Benjamin the ultimate work of trans-
lation was not to indicate the distinction between languages, but
rather their “relationship” (Verhältnis) (Illuminations, 72; Gesammelte
Schriften 4, part 1: 12). No language ever attains its “truth” on its own,
in his view; it is only fulWlled in its relations to all other languages:
“the totality of their intentions supplementing each other” (Illumina-
tions, 74; emphasis added). However enclosed the German language,
people, or cities may appear, their “truth” will always elude them
because it arises in and depends on elsewheres in its unacknowl-
edged—indeed, largely unimagined—linguistic, cultural, social, poli-
tical, and economic intertwinings.
In the real world of geopolitics and hierarchies of nations,
however, languages (and nations) do not confront each other as any-
thing like equals. Paris was capital of the nineteenth century in large
part because of France’s imperial incursions, whose effects are dis-
creetly signaled in Benjamin’s choosing as an epigraph for the 1935
Exposé of his Arcades Project the French words of a Vietnamese poet,
Nguyen Trong Hiep, one of the few non-European voices in Ben-
jamin’s work. Paris is intertwined, unquestionably, with Berlin in
Benjamin’s account, but also, via Nguyen, with Hanoi (and so on,
through all its various material relations with the world). We must
attend to the totality of these relations, and the inequality of peoples
with respect to each other implied in the world’s actually existing
form, whether or not Benjamin explicitly thematized these relations
at any length. They are, it seems to me, implicitly important, even
crucial, given the anticapitalist reading practice he does explicitly
engage. In any case, some things, he insisted, were better expressed
by not being said at all. As he puts it in Convolute N of The Arcades
Project: “method of this project: literary montage. I needn’t say
anything. Merely show. I shall purloin no valuables, appropriate no
ingenious formulations. But the rags, the refuse—these I will not
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 191


inventory but allow in the only way possible, to come into their
own: by making use of them” (460). While in his texts Asian, South
American, and African images can certainly be read as playing the
role of displacing, or standing in for, the actual oppressive material
entanglements of Europe and the “rest of the world,” as in other
primitivist appropriations, we can also see how his reticence might
be directed against obfuscation since the form of Benjamin’s text, and
the reading practice it demands, always points us toward the
unsaid.38 The unsaid in his case differs, then, from the “sanctioned
ignorance” for which Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak rightly took to
task Foucault’s writing, in which the colonial situation seems every-
where evoked but rarely named as such—certainly not as the fact
of European everyday life that it has been from the sixteenth century
to the present (291). The difference in the case of Berliner Chronik is
that Benjamin’s compiling out of the mass of evidence before us the
ordinarily overlooked, misread, and despised was intended to bring
capital’s invisibilities into focus. In this respect, although his texts
don’t announce an anti-imperial agenda as such, they can still be
understood as providing an anti-imperialist reading practice—or at
least demanding such a reading practice from inhabitants of an impe-
rialist world to which his texts are offered as counterpoint.
My claim that Benjamin’s writing can provide a speciWcally anti-
imperial pedagogy depends on our taking seriously the possibility
of the sort of montage or, alternatively, dreamwork reading strate-
gies he advocated, operating in contrast with the sort of atomizing
and decontextualizing reading encouraged by—for example—news-
papers, which he found so suspect.39 The bourgeois newspaper, of
course, purports to leave nothing of signiWcance unsaid (“all the
news that’s Wt to print”), nor to betray any interests. Its tone is
detached, its style straightforward and serious. Tellingly, however,
when Benjamin offers an exemplary symptom of a metropolitan cap-
italist modernity in which people are “increasingly unable to assimi-
late the data of the world around [them] by way of experience,” the
newspaper comes immediately to his mind:

If it were the intention of the press to have the reader assimilate the
information it supplies as part of his own experience, it would not
achieve its purpose. But its intention is just the opposite, and it is
achieved: to isolate what happens from the realm in which it could
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 192


affect the experience of the reader. The principles of journalistic infor-

mation (freshness of news, brevity, comprehensibility, and, above all,
lack of connection between the individual news items) contribute as
much to this as does the make-up of the pages and the paper’s style.
(Karl Kraus never tired of demonstrating the great extent to which the
linguistic usage of newspapers paralyzed the imagination of readers.)
(Charles Baudelaire, 112)

The newspaper’s fragmentation reXects and elicits not only the

fragmentation of its readership, but their blindness to their real con-
ditions of existence, all the more insidious because it does so in the
guise of informing them: showing them the world as it really is (the
current events equivalent of history-according-to-Ranke, as Benjamin
depicts him in the “Theses”). By saying so much, the newspaper
hides much more. Once again in this case, as so often with Benjamin,
we are urged to recognize that seeing should not lead to believing
when we read a newspaper. We should consider, rather, what fails
to come into view, especially the network of social relations that
underwrites the news. For Benjamin, “where there is experience in
the strict sense of the word, certain contents of the individual past
combine with material of the collective past” (113). The newspaper,
conversely, in the very process of supposedly making the world visi-
ble, actually helps make real social relations invisible, and in doing
so undermines any possibility of collectivity, locally or globally. By
mimicking the brevity and fragmentation of journalism, but—unlike
newspapers—focusing on the archaic, establishing thematic net-
works of interconnections among the items, and posing certain prob-
lems of “comprehensibility” self-consciously in his often elliptical
and suggestive, rather than straightforward and interpretive, presen-
tations of material, Benjamin persistently resisted what he saw as
journalism’s desocializing, numbing, and distancing effect. Whereas
the newspaper seems to give you the world as it is in brief, Berliner
Chronik instead offers brief fragments that indicate how tenaciously
the capitalist world eludes collective understanding of its totality.
In a text gesturing toward this totality, Benjamin’s Moor occupies
a gap or hole left in the wake of Georg Simmel’s theorization of
metropolitan modernity in essays such as “Metropolis and Modern
Life,” which depict modernity as at once the bearer of freedom and
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 193


loneliness, as a spur to creativity and individualism, and as an assault

in which “violent stimuli” (aufdrängende Impressionen) take their toll
on city dwellers who become blasé, indifferent, and detached in
response (325). Never in “Metropolis and Modern Life” does Simmel
suggest that the modernity of the (unnamed) Berlin he holds up to
view is, at the very moment he is writing, perpetrating an assault
on the peoples of Africa and Oceania, an assault that brought “vio-
lent stimuli” into their lives in a modern way, though one at some
variance, of course, with the hustle and bustle of a metropolitan
thoroughfare that Simmel has in mind. He does allude to the “cos-
mopolitanism” (Kosmopolitismus) of modernity: “for the metropolis,”
he observes, “it is decisive that its inner life is extended in wave-like
motion over a broader national or international area” (334–35). The
metropolis exceeds itself, in this way, and thus has “life, might,
importance, responsibility.” At the level of the subject, this outward
extension (nowhere called imperialism) augments the freedom and
sense of individual importance of each city dweller: “it is our irre-
placeability by others which shows that our mode of existence is
not imposed upon us from the outside.” For many thousands of
peoples in Africa and Oceania, however, the growth of metropolitan
centers was predicated on a “mode of existence . . . imposed from the
outside.” The blindness to imperialism as part of metropolitan
modernity and thus to modernity as a set of global, though uneven,
relations was endemic in early European theorizations. Benjamin’s
Moor, conversely, depicts a modern metropolis inhabited by the
traces of its putative other, insisting that we understand modernity as
a global totality: the very interpretation that I suggested Shonibare’s
work invites, but that his own reading forecloses. As an artwork, a
“cultural treasure,” the Moor sculpture carries with it the history of
barbarism that Benjamin’s “Theses” remind us of—in this case, in
relation to Africa in particular—and thus directs us to all the global
“anonymous toil” that renders the European collection of such
objects possible (Illuminations, 256).40
Under conditions of structural inequality, it is arguably an
advantage that Benjamin chose not to spell out his sociospatial theory
but rather to enact it in the behavior of the prose—in the use of evoca-
tive imagery and the networks of relations established among the
fragments such that they hint at a totality greater than the sum of
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 194


the parts, but to which any part might nonetheless give us access. The
fragments, after all, always direct us to look further, to the place
beyond our current vision, around the corner (between the lines), and
especially to reassess the certitude that we really see all of what is
there, right before our eyes. Both are crucial tasks for an anti-imperial
reading practice. Each fragment of Berliner Chronik is at once thresh-
old and network of intertwinings, incomplete in itself, but never-
theless evidence of, and the route to, a totality that remains beyond
our full imagining, both because it is a process, not a stable “thing,”
and because of its complexity. As Benjamin put it, “we cannot draw
closed the net [of capitalism] in which we are caught” (“Capitalism,”
288). But he did not think that this was a permanent state: “Later on,
however, we shall be able to gain an overview of it.” The “later on” is
when it is destroyed. In the meantime, we have to remain attentive
to the unsaid and invisible.41 Gaps and elisions in Benjamin’s text
teach the reader to be more attuned to the gaps and elisions in the
world, which may appear all too coherent and seamless. The every-
day experience of imperial relations by African peoples was (is) often
invisible in the metropole as such—either completely so, because
unspoken, or because diverted by fantastical displacements. As we
have seen, however, Benjamin’s Berliner Chronik critiques the metro-
politan bourgeois subject precisely for remaining blind to the class
injustices of capital in the ordinary practices of his everyday life; the
Moor pushes this critique onto a broader scale, where it is thoroughly
relevant today.
Global business as usual still depends on the assumption that it
is natural and just for whole swaths of the planet to be virtually
excluded from the global economy except in the terms dictated by the
metropole, and that the wealth and resources of some nations are
meant to Xow to others who can put them to the “best” uses, the
standard economic justiWcation for the Xow of scarce minerals—and
virtually everything else—to where there is cash, without consid-
eration of disproportion or relative need.42 In the spring of 2000,
the Economist published a cover story it titled “Hopeless Africa.”
Although only a single page long, it ranged over the entire continent,
shaking its editorial head gloomily over the sad state of affairs.
“African societies,” the essay avers, “for reasons buried in their cultures,
seem especially susceptible to . . . brutality, despotism and corruption”
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 195


(17; emphasis added). Imperialism as well as continued trade, aid,

and lending policies that advance metropolitan interests are not
mentioned. A followup article in the same issue brings up charges of
exploitation and domination, as well as racist perspectives on African
failure to thrive, only to reject both as (apparently equally) wrong-
headed and to pin blame on African leaders.43 After a Wrestorm of
letters the journal did concede, in a later reply to critics, some of the
massive evidence (which I cited at the beginning of the paper) sup-
porting the exploitation over the racist theory of global inequality.
Having detailed these daunting global conditions and forces, how-
ever, the Economist still manages to conclude that internal factors are
paramount: “most ordinary Africans are ill-served by their leaders.
That is Africa’s continuing tragedy” (“Africa’s Elusive Dawn,” 18). It
should be emphasized that the editors do not suggest that African
leaders might be overwhelmed—not as people, but precisely as lead-
ers—by the very enormity of the global forces stacked against them.44
Ama Ata Aidoo’s furious retort indicates some of the problems
with the Economist’s assumptions—and how remarkably deeply
imperialist attitudes still permeate the metropole:

[T]hose who know it for a fact credit Africa with an almost inex-
haustible percentage of the whole world’s natural resources. The desire
to loot these riches has led stakeholders to abuse its people verbally,
physically, psychologically and in other unimaginable ways. The cam-
paign to portray Africans and people of African descent everywhere
as next to animals must surely have one objective: to demonstrate
that Africans do not deserve to have Africa—at least, not as much as
others do. (5)

Against the demonstrably destructive effects of European positive

knowledge, Benjamin opens the possibility of bringing the negative
to bear: we must recall that his memory fragment contains the vague
outline of “another Moor” to which the Wrst appears to be “urgently
oriented.” The familiar European image of the docile and willing
native, then, is not offering his wares/gift in this memory to a white
man, but to a Moor who is (perhaps) absent. The absent Moor directs
the metropolitan us (urgently, even) to remember that the familiar
image with which Benjamin confronts us does not tell the whole story
on its surface any more than did the image of the sandwich-board
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 196


man through whom Benjamin had once imagined “the poor.” Colo-
nialism obliged the native to disappear as a being distinct from the
interests of the colonizer. The absent Moor in Berliner Chronik, I
would suggest, is the placeholder for all that metropolitan elites do
not know—cannot know—about the peoples of the world othered
by them, not because they are mysterious and inscrutable, but
because the vantage point from which they look necessarily leaves so
much out of frame and focus, beyond the ken of people with a deep
investment in not seeing that global inequalities are a result of reme-
diable conditions, not nature, and ongoing imperial oppression, not
the ineptitude of nonmetropolitan peoples. Marxism gives us access
to a reading of Benjamin’s text as a critique of imperialism—capital-
ism’s totality—that still needs to be deployed; poststructuralism
on its own heretofore has often merely encouraged us to admire
Benjamin’s fragments.


I would like to thank Amata Schneider-Ludorff for help with the German, and the
members of my writing group at Syracuse University for valuable critique of an
early draft of this essay: Dympna Callaghan, Michael Echeruo, Susan Edmunds,
Bob Gates, Priya Jaikumar, Claudia Klaver, Christian Thorne, Silvio Torres-
Saillant, and Monika Wadman. I’d also like to thank the two anonymous readers
for the journal, and especially the special issue editor, Keya Ganguly, for insight-
ful suggestions for clarifying and tightening the argument.

1. For recent commentary on Shonibare, who has been one of the particu-
larly successful (and therefore much written about) black British artists, see,
for example, Enwezor; Hylton; Hynes; Oguibe; and Picton. Some critics, I should
note, emphasize the same global politics that I do here: I am critiquing Shoni-
bare’s own self-analysis speciWcally. Arguing that the sort of political-economic
critique I am foregrounding has already had its day, Shonibare observes: “Up
until the mid-1980s, very serious feminist work and very serious Black art
was being made, looking at issues around slavery and colonization, very well-
meaning work. That was the context in which I was at college. I thought, well,
those issues have been well-raised, and I felt that it had been done. Wouldn’t it be
good to just surprise people: Black people can laugh, too! We’re not serious all the
time! I felt that it was time to loosen up a little. When I make work I draw from
my own experiences. But my experiences are not all gloomy. There are times
when I feel silly. I do recognize that there are issues that are still a problem, but I
just wanted to have a bit of a laugh about it all because it’s so stupid” (Waxman,
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 197


37). The problem with his own readings of his work, as this passage suggests,
is that they tend to want to privilege the playful “identity” issues over—even
against—all other modes of reading, such that the relation between political econ-
omy and identity seems less likely to be seen or worked out, in spite of the fact
that his art seems to allude to it so manifestly. Given this disavowal, his work
must be read “against the grain” of his intention, so to speak, to bring the politi-
cal economy back into view. Adorno and Benjamin referred to such a process
as the quest for “unintentional truth,” which was crucial to their wrenching of
utopian possibilities out of unlikely sites (see Buck-Morss, Origin, 77–81).
2. This is not to say that poststructuralist critiques are utterly false or use-
less; rather it is to emphasize that they must be deployed in full recognition of the
determinant power relations that do still pertain in the world (which is a state-
ment that certain poststructuralisms would already disallow). As Asha Varad-
harajan reminds us in a critique of tendencies to see “Xuidity” everywhere, such
readings too easily forget “that the circulation of power and of subject positions
must nevertheless foreground who regulates whom” (74). Similarly, Timothy
Brennan has nicely observed in his critique of the overzealous turn in theory
toward identifying hybridities and mixtures that these are “complete as identity
and incomplete as situation”—the situation being one in which relations of iden-
tiWable oppression and resistance are evident (18). I have tried to be attentive to
“situation” here. The crucial point is that what works for a cultural analysis is
often woefully inadequate to a political-economic one (and vice versa), which is
why each approach must confront, and be confronted by, the other, instead of
attempting to ignore or deny the validity of the other.
3. See the “Exposé of 1939,” in The Arcades Project, for an explicit elabora-
tion of this concept.
4. As Fredric Jameson has often observed, the “disappearance of class” is
so axiomatic in contemporary U.S. ideology that it is not surprising that it has
often disappeared from social critique as well. This disappearance, however, is
itself part of capital’s politics of invisibility. See, for example, his “Class and Alle-
gory in Contemporary Mass Culture,” chapter 2 of Signatures of the Visible.
5. I coin “strategic binarization” as the global force against which one must
deploy what Gayatri Spivak has called (good) “strategic essentialism” (for a dis-
cussion of the importance of this term, the limits of deconstruction, and the end-
less pluralization of “difference” as “politics,” see Harasym, ed., 10–11, 104, 109).
This reminder is important not least because capitalism, too, has “difference” in
its arsenal for deployment at the local level while the global divide between
metropole and periphery ever widens, as Stuart Hall has recently been empha-
sizing; see “The Local and the Global,” especially 28–31.
6. The best discussions of totality and Adorno/Benjamin to my mind
remain Buck-Morss and Jameson, especially in Late Marxism. For an inXuential
contrasting view, see Jay.
7. John Kraniauskas has written what may be the only article previous
to this one that takes up at length the implications of the imperial context of
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 198


Benjamin’s writings. My project is at considerable variance with Kraniauskas’s

(I come to exactly the opposite conclusion to his that Benjamin’s work cannot
serve an anti-imperial function), but certainly I would want to defend his attempt
to historicize Benjamin’s work in the colonial context in which it was written,
even though in a review of the volume in which the essay appears, Gerhardt
Richter dismisses this exercise (well beyond his concern with unfortunate philo-
logical errors that he identiWes in Kraniauskas’s text) apparently because “colo-
nial” is not one of Benjamin’s privileged concepts and “there is very little that
motivates a sustained political consideration of ‘anticolonial struggles in Africa
and Asia’ . . . from within Benjamin’s work itself” (213). As I indicate in this essay,
Fredric Jameson (among others) has already shown us that such explicit themati-
zation is hardly necessary to a text’s participation in the production of (anti-)
imperial ideology. Richter’s trivializing of Kraniauskas’s essay is all the more
surprising as his own book (2000) would seem to invite attention to passing
moments, and the unsaid, in the Benjaminian text.
8. A number of critics have linked Benjamin’s own work broadly with
modernism. See, for example, Frisby: “[T]he search for a social theory of moder-
nity is fused with that of a concern for the aims and sometimes techniques of
modernism in [Simmel, Kracauer, and Benjamin]” (5). On issues of method, see
Buck-Morss, Origins and Dialectics.
9. The question of the content of Benjamin’s Marxism is not an easy one.
As is repeatedly pointed out, not only did he attempt to wrench together concepts
and modes of thought that were alien to each other and, as a result, horriWed his
various readers and friends more decidedly entrenched in one camp or another,
but his Wrsthand study of Marx and Marxism was relatively limited. On the other
hand, his brother was a Communist, and a number of key intellectual friends
and allies from Asja Lacis to Brecht and Adorno were Marxists, albeit of radically
different kinds, which impacted on his own ambivalences and methodological
ambiguities. What can be said of a text such as Berliner Chronik, nonetheless, is
that its sympathies are Marxist and useful to Marxism, although the same text
(and others) have also recommended themselves to a host of other uses. My essay
is devoted to the importance of keeping alive the Marxist Benjamin, not just
as one, but as privileged, among the others. Momme Brodersen’s biography of
Benjamin catalogs the various moments of encounter with Marxist inXuence
while remaining skeptical about how deeply they took. Numerous attempts have
also been made to reclaim Benjamin for one variety or another of Marxism, from
Adorno on. See, for example, Eagleton’s effort to associate Benjamin with “West-
ern Marxism” and Margaret Cohen’s quite different “Gothic” appropriation.
10. See, for example, Buck-Morss, “Flâneur,” and also Dialectics, 184–85;
Leslie, 114–15; Rauch; Weigel, 92–94.
11. Although there are passing references to European imperialism scat-
tered throughout the criticism, and there have been a number of recent appli-
cations of Benjamin’s concepts and method to (post)colonial situations and
“different cultural imaginaries” (e.g., Abbas; Hansen; Harootunian, in Steinberg),
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 199


as well as some studies of colonialist extravaganzas and exhibitions that inter-

ested Benjamin, such as the World Fairs (e.g., Hinsley, in Steinberg), German
imperialism has received surprisingly little attention as a context for Benjamin’s
work, with an essay by John Kraniauskas being an exception (see note 7).
12. Particularly zealous has been Susanne Zantop, as both author and edi-
tor. See, for example, Zantop; Friedrichsmeyer, Lennox, and Zantop; and Zantop,
in Denham.
13. See Pogge von Strandmann; Wesseling (section II, chapters 5–6); also see
Förster et al., especially the essays by Pogge von Strandmann, Bade, Mommsen,
and Fisch.
14. For overviews, see Henderson (224–29) (economic history); Mommsen
(Imperial Germany, chapter 5); and, especially, Smith (“Colonialism and Colonial
Empire” and The German Colonial Empire).
15. On Berlin’s anxieties about, and attempts to achieve, world city status,
see Masur, chapter 5; and Large, chapter 2. Feuchtwanger has explained that for
Germany as a whole, “colonies and navies were accoutrements of the well-
dressed world power which no German government could give up,” in spite of
the high cost (142).
16. To their credit, much of the left was against colonization from the start.
The Social Democrats before World War I and the Communists after—SPD
(Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands) and the KPD (Kommunistische Partei
Deutschlands)—were ofWcially internationalist and anti-imperial parties. The
major left-wing leaders were all against colonization on economic, political, and
especially moral grounds (see Stoecker and Sebald; and Steenson, 67–78). Wil-
helm Liebknecht’s long Wnal speech in 1900 (circulated as a memorial pamphlet
after his death) was a furious indictment of German colonial adventurism and
its horrendous costs to both the peoples of Africa and the East, as well as most of
the population of Germany (collected in Pelz, ed.). Rosa Luxemburg spoke out
against colonies often, as in the famous “Junius” pamphlet in which she takes
to task the members of the SPD who defected from internationalism to jingoism
during World War I, and thus to supporting Germany’s various expansionisms
(collected in Waters, ed.). Throughout the three decades of German colonial
adventurism, in fact, many left intellectuals and artists participated in the
production of anticolonial propaganda. Bertolt Brecht, for one, penned an inter-
nationalist solidarity song that exhorted all people “black or white or brown or
yellow [to] leave [their] old disputes behind” and band together in the Wght to
destroy capitalism, at a time in which the left press made a similar case, in word
and image (see Weitz, chapter 7). And not least, of course, there was the large-
scale ongoing evidence of resistance to imperialism in the colonized countries
themselves, news of which Wltered back, albeit distortedly, to Berlin, fueling inter-
nationalist critiques of imperialism.
17. It should be noted that Evans Lewin, the author of the Wrst epigraph,
is not German, but rather a Wercely nationalistic Englishman anxiously taking
stock of German “aims on the Dark Continent,” as the subtitle of his 1915
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 200


book proclaims. He quotes the passage I cite in the course of his discussion
of deplorable German settler attitudes toward “natives,” attributing it to the
Deutsche-Südwestafrikanische Zeitung, but does not give full bibliographical infor-
mation, and I have been unable to track the reference down, though there was
deWnitely a newspaper of this name published between 1898 and 1914. Given the
tendency of the colonial powers to toss accusations of bad behavior at each other,
it is possible that the quotation is manipulated. The sentiments expressed are not,
however, out of line with colonial press writing (of any of the colonial powers, in
spite of Lewin’s attempt to render it singularly “German”). And it is certainly not
at odds with the German ofWcial extermination policy in Southwest Africa, on
which see Bley; Drechsler; and Smith. The quotation can be found on page 117 of
Lewin’s book.
18. This examination of “anomalous cases” (as the table of contents in this
edition puts it) is one of the more remarkable passages in the Principles for its
matter-of-factness and astonishing limit to discussion of the anomaly of this case.
Indeed, the West Indies are compared to Manchester if it were moved to “a rock
on the North Sea (its present industry nevertheless continuing)” (685), without
any distinction being made between the relationship of the inhabitants of Man-
chester to England and the inhabitants of the West Indian colonies and England
(685). Mill manages this because he views the relationship between metropole
and colony as that “between town and country” (686)—much as Raymond
Williams (with a quite different agenda) would later do in The Country and the City
(see chapters 24–25)—but without in any way examining the speciWcity of the
colonial situation, ethically or otherwise.
19. See chapter 5 of Mommsen; for a recent discussion of German attempts
to extend its (informal) inXuence in Latin America, in particular, which brought it
into some contention with the United States in this period, see Mitchell. For a gen-
eral overview of economic issues and trends (to which colonies are so insigniW-
cant as not even to Wgure) before World War I, see Berghahn, chapters 1–3.
20. As Smith observes, “German colonialism did not die in 1919, however.
Indeed, the colonial movement became in some ways more popular and better
organized than before” (“Colonialism,” 450). Also see Herman (Lenin-inspired
assessment); and Schmokel.
21. See Gilman; Lloyd; the essays collected in Blackshire-Belay, ed.;
McBride, Hopkins, and Blackshire-Belay, eds.; Friedrichsmeyer, Lennox, and
Zantop, eds.
22. See, for example, Clifford (especially “On Collecting Art and Culture”);
Edwards; Lloyd; Torgovnick.
23. See Lavin, chapter 5; also Makela. Not all critics agree that Höch’s work
is as critical of racism or imperialism as I am suggesting here, but her concern for
gender oppression certainly made her sensitive to issues of representation and
display (on that critics agree). This sensitivity, I am contending, does ultimately
have the effect (given her material in the ethnographic museum series, at any
rate) of calling racial and ethnic, as well as gender, representation into question,
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 201


whatever her intentions. As Lavin concludes in her chapter on the series, “Hoch
deviated from the nonambiguous, folkloristic representation of African and other
tribal peoples in the Illustrierte and lays the foundation for a critique of racism,
even if she did not pursue it further” (182).
24. See in particular “The Social Production of the News” in Policing the
Crisis, Hall et al. The concerns of Policing intersect with numerous themes in this
essay: the politics of (in)visibility; the irreducibility of the legacy of imperialism
to understanding current global (and local) inequality; and, as I shall take up at
the end of the essay, the role of newspapers in securing the status quo.
25. Jameson continues by suggesting that “obvious” places would be “con-
tent or representation” and argues for the importance of paying attention to form.
I build on his suggestion in this essay by focusing on the reading practice that
Berliner Chronik seems to demand, and also by pointing to the workings of dialec-
tical images that wed form and content. Actually, Jameson’s own reading practice
indicates that he, too, is interested in content—but often not on obvious content
or obvious readings of it. His important point is that even texts that are not explic-
itly about imperialism can nonetheless have quite a lot to say about it.
26. Neither Berliner Chronik nor the similarly structured Berliner Kindheit
(Berlin childhood) were published during Benjamin’s lifetime in their collected
forms (though some of the vignettes were published separately). Furthermore,
the typescript of the Berliner Chronik (unlike that of the Berliner Kindheit) does not
appear to have been fully prepared for publication by Benjamin before his death.
The two texts overlap so little in material, however, that it is doubtful that the
Berliner Kindheit is a displacement of the Berliner Chronik. I have worked with the
Berliner Chronik here, even though it was not the text circulated for publication in
Nazi Germany; of the two Berlin texts, it is by far the most explicit about class
issues. That it was the less explicitly politicized Berliner Kindheit that Benjamin
ultimately chose to attempt to publish in the 1930s is due, I would argue, not to
some distaste for or lack of investment in Berliner Chronik, but to a prudent assess-
ment of the situation in which he was attempting to live and work in the early
Nazi period. Writing to Scholem from Paris at the beginning of his exile there
in 1933, he observes: “under such conditions, the utmost political reserve, such
as I have long and with good reason practiced, may protect the person in ques-
tion from systematic persecution, but not from starvation” (from the increasing
refusals to publish his work) (Correspondence, 405–6).
27. “Reminiscences, even extensive ones, do not always amount to an auto-
biography. And these quite certainly do not, even for the Berlin years that I am
exclusively concerned with here. For autobiography has to do with time, with
sequence and what makes up the continuous Xow of life. Here, I am talking of a
space, of moments and discontinuities” (“Berlin Chronicle,” 28).
28. Susan Buck-Morss has made the perceptive observation that while
Benjamin has been criticized for imposing his biography allegorically on what-
ever text comes to hand and thus reducing it to the personal, his approach is bet-
ter read in exactly the opposite way—that the individual for him is emblematic of
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 202


the social (Dialectics, 31–32). Benjamin’s own comments on memory, at least,

accord better with Buck-Morss’s reading (though she does not mention this
passage): “Man’s inner concerns do not have their issueless private character by
nature. They do so only when he [the modern subject] is increasingly unable to
assimilate the data of the world around him by way of experience” (Illuminations,
158). I shall return to this point in the discussion of newspapers later in this essay.
29. The signiWcance of the Landwehr Canal was intensiWed for the German
left after World War I, since it was the site in which the battered body of Rosa
Luxemburg was discovered after she “disappeared” from police detention in 1919
in the wake of the worker uprising of that year in Berlin (Large, 163).
30. Benjamin underscores the association of “Schwelle” with the bourgeois
household elsewhere in the text, in phrases such as “die Schwelle jenes Hauses”
(the threshold of that house) (“Berlin Chronicle,” 27; Berliner Chronik, 55). One of
the interesting uses of Grenze, alternatively, emerges in the course of a discussion
of the “boundary” of childhood memory, transforming time into a sort of foreign
country and linking Benjamin’s discussions of the interpenetration of spaces and
of times (see “Berlin Chronicle,” 29; Berliner Chronik, 58).
31. Berlin never hosted a World Fair, though it did put on an Industrial
Exhibition in 1896, in which it attempted to accomplish similar grandiose aims of
augmenting Berlin’s prestige, and it used anthropological exhibits to contrast
with the technological ones in order to do so (Large, 81–83). For a discussion of
the anthropological displays at the World Fairs, with Chicago as the case study,
see Hinsley (“Strolling through the Colonies”) in Steinberg, ed.
32. There is another way in which the father and the Moor might be seen
as comparable in the context of German racism, whose effects Benjamin was
certainly experiencing at the time of the writing of the Berliner Chronik. Sander
Gilman has noted that “in Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf as well as the ideological
bible of the Nazi movement, Alfred Rosenberg’s Der Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts,
. . . the presence of the ‘Blacks’ in Germany is linked with or paralleled to the cen-
tral stereotype of German racism, the Jew. . . . Indeed one of the qualities ascribed
by anti-Semites to the Jews (as well as to the Gypsies) was their ‘blackness’” (xiv).
After the war, with a very different agenda, Aimé Césaire would describe colo-
nialism as a form of fascism with the hopes of encouraging horror at its practices
at a moment in which imperialism was still ongoing, while fascism was defeated
and discredited. Later Paul Gilroy and others would insist on the importance of
examining the abuse, displacement, extermination, enslavement, and extinguish-
ing of human possibilities that have been visited on black peoples, alongside
those visited on the Jews over the centuries and in the Holocaust. This parallel
remains a contentious issue, but it seems plausible to me that writing in the
context of racism against Jews, Benjamin might well have had cause to reXect,
consciously or unconsciously, on other racisms, which could have had something
to do with the Moor, of all things, being conjured up in his memory in relation to
his father.
33. See Buck-Morss, “Hegel,” which discusses the intriguing possibility that
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 203


the Lectures may have marked a backsliding into the crassest racism on Hegel’s
part, but nonetheless a backward move that had a long impact; see also Miers in
Gifford, ed., on the impact of slavery on German and British colonial policy; the
texts listed in note 21 also have some interest to the question of the association of
“blackness” with slavery.
34. As Sander Gilman notes, the old high German word “môr” was Wrst
used principally to designate North Africans, but slowly expanded to include
Africans more generally, especially in terms of a religious conXict between the
Christian and Muslim worlds: “the term Mohr became a portmanteau concept
for the dark-skinned non-Christian” (xii). By the time Benjamin was writing,
however, “Mohr” was generally replaced by “Neger” to distinguish sub-Saharan
35. The Wrst line of Benjamin’s essay on Moscow is “More quickly than
Moscow itself, one gets to know Berlin through Moscow” (“Berlin Chronicle,” 97).
36. See, for example, Williams’s “When Was Modernism?” in Politics of
37. “The Task of the Translator,” for example, is a preface to Benjamin’s
translation into German of a collection of Baudelaire’s poetry.
38. One Way Street is particularly jam-packed with such imagery, some of it
difWcult to reclaim as anti-imperialist. However, a long middle section titled
“Imperial Panorama,” as well as the very last section, a meditation on the ill
effects of the desire of “imperialists” for “mastery of nature” on a “planetary”
scale (104), make clear that Benjamin did not consider imperialism to be a dead
issue for Germany after the loss of colonies. Also in One Way Street we are pre-
sented with a scene involving a target range at the fair in which, when the mark
is hit, a door opens and “before red plush curtains stands Moor who seems
to bow slightly. He holds in front of him a golden bowl” (85). The Moor with the
golden bowl in the later Berliner Chronik, I would suggest, wrenches the target
range sorts of Moors of everyday racist representation into a rather different rela-
tion to viewers than they otherwise might have had.
39. Benjamin, of course, earned a large portion of his own income from jour-
nalism—print and radio—until 1933 when the Nazi takeover pretty much closed
off his avenues for publication in Germany, except for a handful of works under
a pseudonym. This obviously did not temper his critique.
40. There is nothing to suggest that the sculpture was a product of Africa, of
course, nor do I suggest that this was the case; I merely refer to its referential func-
tion as a dialectical image and what it opens up to view, not its provenance.
41. This raises the question of why, if the Moor sculpture is as important as
I am saying it is, it has not received attention hitherto. In response, I would point
to Benjamin’s own frequent allusions to words, images, and experiences that are
encountered in one moment, only to have their meanings emerge much later. In
the Berliner Chronik, he cites not only words (“class,” “love,” “syphilis”) in these
terms, but also the sites and objects of his childhood that he holds up for later
inspection when, situated anew, they take on new meanings. Criticism of the
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 204


same work at different times can have a similar function of drawing out the
meanings of things that speak urgently to them; I argue that the Moor needs to
speak to our time, urgently.
42. Jennifer Wenzel gave an excellent paper at the 2001 meeting of the
Modern Language Association on this very problem, with the Congo as her case
43. SpeciWcally, the longer Economist article characterizes the two views it
would dismiss as, on the one hand, emanating from those people who would
“blame the way the rest of the world has treated Africa, citing exploitation going
back to the slave trade and European colonial rule. They blame cold-war rivalry
for propping up greedy dictators in the Wrst 30 years of African independence,
and now they trace the continent’s failures to debt, exploitative trading relations
and too-strict demands for economic reform from the IMF and the World Bank”;
and on the other hand, derived from those people who propose that “Africa’s
wars, corruption and tribalism are ‘just the way Africa is,’ and that African soci-
eties are unable to sustain viable states.” The editors conclude, “In the past, out-
siders would have described Africa’s failure in racial terms. Some still do. They
are wrong, but social and cultural factors cannot be discounted” (“Heart,” 22).
44. C. L. R. James’s book-length assessment of Nkrumah shows that one
does not have to defend the brutal, corrupt regimes that have marred postinde-
pendence history in many African states in order to view them in a global context.
That there is stacking of the international economy against nonmetropolitan
nations has been afWrmed not just on the left (which, of course, has been saying
this for a long time), but even from fans of capitalist globalization, such as George
Soros, who has recently argued that “reform” is needed “to correct the built-in
bias in our existing international trade and Wnancial institutions that favors the
developed countries that largely control them” (8).

Works Cited
Abbas, Ackbar. Hong Kong: Culture and the Poltics of Disappearance. Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota Press, 1997.
Abdel-Malek, Anouar. Nation and Revolution. Albany: State University of New
York Press, 1981.
“Africa’s Elusive Dawn.” Economist 358, no. 8210 (2001): 17–18.
Aidoo, Ama Ata. “What Hopeless Continent?” New Internationalist, September
2000, 5.
Beer, George Louis. African Questions at the Paris Peace Conference. New York:
Macmillan, 1923.
Berghahn, Volker R. Imperial Germany, 1871–1914: Economy, Society, Culture, and
Politics. Providence: Berghahn Books, 1994.
Benjamin, Walter. The Arcades Project. Trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaugh-
lin. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, Belknap Press, 1999.
———. “Berlin Chronicle,” In ReXections, trans. Edmund Jephcott. New York:
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978.
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 205


———. Berliner Chronik. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1970.

———. Berliner Kindheit um neunzehnhundert. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2000.
———. “Capitalism as Religion.” In Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, vol. 1, ed.
Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings. Cambridge: Harvard University
Press, Belknap Press, 1996.
———. Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet of High Capitalism. Trans. Harry Zohn.
London and New York: Verso, 1983.
———. Correspondence of Walter Benjamin. Trans. Manfred R. Jacobson and Evelyn
M. Jacobson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.
———. Gesammelte Schriften. Ed. Rolf Tiedemann and Hermann Schweppen-
häuser. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1972–89.
———. Illuminations. Trans. Harry Zohn. New York: Schocken Books, 1969.
———. One Way Street and Other Writings. Trans. Edmund Jephcott and Kingsley
Shorter. London: Verso, 1985.
Blackshire-Belay, Carol Aisha, ed. “Image of Africa in German Society.” Special
issue, Journal of Black Studies 23, no. 2 (1992).
Bley, Helmut, South-West Africa under German Rule, 1894–1914. Evanston, Ill.:
Northwestern University Press, 1971.
Braun, Hans Joachim. The German Economy in the Twentieth Century. London and
New York: Routledge, 1990.
Brennan, Timothy. At Home in the World: Cosmopolitanism Now. Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1997.
Brodersen, Momme. Walter Benjamin: A Biography. Trans. Malcolm R. Green and
Ingrida Ligers. London and New York: Verso, 1996.
Buck-Morss, Susan. Dialectics of Seeing. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991.
———. “The Flâneur, the Sandwichman, and the Whore.” New German Critique 39
(1986): 99–140.
———. “Hegel and Haiti.” Critical Inquiry 26, no. 4 (2000): 821–65.
———. Origin of Negative Dialectics. New York: Free Press, 1977.
Césaire, Aimé. Discourse on Colonialism. Trans. Joan Pinkham. New York: Monthly
Review, 1972.
Clifford, James. The Predicament of Culture. Cambridge: Harvard University Press,
Cohen, Margaret. Profane Illumination: Walter Benjamin and the Paris of Surrealist
Revolution. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.
Denham, Scott, et al., eds. A User’s Guide to German Cultural Studies. Ann Arbor:
University of Michigan Press, 1997.
Drechsler, Horst. Let Us Die Fighting: The Struggle of the Herero and Nama against Ger-
man Imperialism, 1884–1915. Trans. Bernd Zöllner. London: Zed Press, 1980.
Eagleton, Terry. Walter Benjamin, or Towards a Revolutionary Criticism. London and
New York: Verso, 1981.
Edwards, Brent. “The Ethnics of Surrealism.” Transition 78 (1998): 84–135.
Enloe, Cynthia. Bananas, Beaches, and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International
Politics. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 206


Enwezor, Okwui. “Yinka Shonibare: The Joke Is on You.” Flash Art 197 (1997): 96–97.
Fanon, Frantz. Wretched of the Earth. Trans. Constance Farington. New York:
Grove Press, 1968.
Feuchtwanger, Edgar. Imperial Germany, 1850–1918. London and New York: Rout-
ledge, 2001.
Förster, Stig, et al., eds. Bismark, Europe, and Africa: The Berlin Africa Conference
1884–1885 and the Onset of Partition. London: Oxford University Press,
German Historical Institute, 1988.
Friedrichsmeyer, Sara, Sara Lennox, and Susanne Zantop, eds. The Imperialist
Imagination: German Colonialism and Its Legacy. Ann Arbor: University of
Michigan Press, 1998.
Frisby, David. Fragments of Modernity. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1986.
Gifford, Prosser, and Wm. Roger Louis, eds. Britain and Germany in Africa: Imper-
ial Rivalry and Colonial Rule. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967.
Gilman, Sander. On Blackness without Blacks: Essays on the Image of the Black in
Germany. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1982.
Gilroy, Paul. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1993.
Hall, Stuart. “The Local and the Global: Globalization and Ethnicity.” In Culture,
Globalization, and the World-System, ed. Anthony D. King. Minneapolis: Uni-
versity of Minnesota Press, 1997. 19–39.
Hall, Stuart, et al. Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order. New
York: Holmes & Meier, 1978.
Hansen, Miriam Bratu. “Benjamin and Cinema: Not a One Way Street.” Critical
Inquiry 25, no. 2 (1999): 306–43.
Harasym, Sarah, ed. The Post-colonial Critic: Interviews, Strategies, Dialogues. New
York and London: Routledge, 1990.
“Heart of the Matter.” Economist 355, no. 8170 (2000): 22–24.
Henderson, W. O. The Rise of German Industrial Power, 1834–1914. Berkeley: Uni-
versity of California Press, 1975.
Herman, Karel. “Constants and Metamorphoses of German Imperialism as They
Were Formed since the Eighteen-seventies to 1945,” Historica 29 (1989): 57–121.
“Hopeless Africa.” Economist 355, no. 8170 (2000): 17.
Hylton, Richard. “Yinka Shonibare: Dressing Down.” Third Text 46 (1999): 101–3.
Hynes, Nancy. “Re-dressing History.” African Arts 34, no. 3 (2001): 60–65.
Jacobs, Carol. In the Language of Walter Benjamin. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1999.
James, C. L. R. Nkrumah and the Ghana Revolution. Westport, Conn.: L. Hill, 1977.
Jameson, Fredric. “Cognitive Mapping.” In Marxism and the Interpretation of Cul-
ture. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988.
———. Late Marxism: Adorno, or The Persistence of the Dialectic. London and New
York: Verso, 1990.
———. 1990. “Modernism and Imperialism.” In Nationalism, Colonialism, and
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 207


Literature, Terry Eagleton, Fredric Jameson, and Edward Said. Minneapolis:

University of Minnesota Press.
———. Signatures of the Visible. New York: Routledge, 1990.
Jay, Martin. Marxism and Totality. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984.
Kraniauskus, John. “Beware Mexican Ruins! ‘One Way Street’ and the Colonial
Unconscious.” In Destruction and Experience: Walter Benjamin’s Philosophy, ed.
Andrew Benjamin and Peter Osborne. Manchester: Clinamen Press, 2000.
Large, David Clay. Berlin. New York: Basic Books, 2000.
Lavin, Maud. Cut with the Kitchen Knife: The Weimar Photomontages of Hannah Höch.
New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1993.
Lenin, V. I. Imperialism. New York: International Publishers, 1939.
Leslie, Esther. Walter Benjamin: Overpowering Conformism. London: Pluto, 2000.
Lewin, Evans. The Germans and Africa: Their Aims on the Dark Continent and How
They Acquired Their African Colonies. London: Cassell and Co., 1915.
Lloyd, Jill. German Expressionism: Primitivism and Modernity. New Haven, Conn.:
Yale University Press, 1991.
Makela, Maria. “By Design: The Early Work of Hannah Höch in Context.” In The
Photomontages of Hannah Hoch, ed. Maria Makela and Peter Boswell. Min-
neapolis: Walker Art Center, 1996. 49–79.
Marx, Karl. Capital, vol. 1. Trans. Ben Fowkes. London and New York: Penguin, 1990.
Marx, Karl, and Freidrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. Oxford: Oxford Uni-
versity Press, 1992.
Masur, Gerhard. Imperial Berlin. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1971.
McBride, David, Leroy Hopkins, and C. Aisha Blackshire-Belay, eds. Crosscur-
rents: African-Americans, Africa, and Germany in the Modern World. Columbia,
S.C.: Camden House, 1998.
Mill, John Stuart. Principles of Political Economy. London: Longmans, Green and
Co., 1929.
Mitchell, Nancy. The Danger of Dreams: German and American Imperialism in Latin
America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999.
Mommsen, Wolfgang. Imperial Germany, 1867–1918: Politics, Culture, and Society
in an Authoritarian State. Trans. Richard Deveson. London and New York:
Arnold, 1995.
Oguibe, Olu. “Nigerian Artists in the Contemporary Art World.” Art Journal 58,
no. 2 (1999): 30–41.
Osborne, Peter. “Philosophizing beyond Philosophy.” In Destruction and Experi-
ence: Walter Benjamin’s Philosophy, ed. Andrew Benjamin and Peter Osborne.
Manchester: Clinamen Press, 2000.
Pelz, William, ed. Wihelm Liebknecht and German Social Democracy: A Documentary
History. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994.
Picton, John. “Undressing Ethnicity.” African Arts 34, no. 3 (2001): 66–73.
Pogge von Strandmann, Harmut. “The Domestic Origins of Germany’s Colonial
Expansion under Bismark.” Past and Present 42 (1969): 140–59.
09Bart.qxd 11/4/02 2:57 PM Page 208


Rauch, Angelika. “The Trauerspiel of the Prostituted Body or Woman as Allegory

of the Modern.” Cultural Critique 10 (1989): 77–88.
Richter, Gerhard. “Benjamin Redux.” Philosophy and Literature 20, no. 1 (1996): 200–217.
———. Walter Benjamin and the Corpus of Autobiography. Detroit: Wayne State
University Press, 2000.
Schmokel, Wolfe. Dream of Empire: German Colonialism, 1919–1945. New Haven:
Yale University Press,1964.
Simmel, Georg. “The Metropolis and Mental Life.” In On Individuality and Social
Forms. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971.
Smith, Woodruff. “Colonialism and Colonial Empire.” In Imperial Germany: A
Historiographical Companion, ed. Roger Chickering. London and Westport,
Conn: Greenwood Press, 1996.
———. The German Colonial Empire. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina
Press, 1978.
Soros, George. George Soros on Globalization. New York: Public Affairs, 2002.
Steenson, Gary. “Not One Man! Not One Penny!”: German Social Democracy, 1863–
1914. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1981.
Steinberg, Michael P., ed. Walter Benjamin and the Demands of History. Ithaca, N.Y.:
Cornell University Press, 1996.
Stoecker, Helmuth, and Peter Sebald. “Enemies of the Colonial Idea.” Trans.
Lewis H. Gann. In Germans in the Tropics, ed. Arthur J. Knoll and Lewis H.
Gann. New York: Greenwood Press, 1987. 59–72.
Torgovnick, Marianna. Gone Primitive: Savage Intellects, Modern Lives. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1991.
Varadharajan, Asha. Exotic Parodies: Subjectivity in Adorno, Said, Spivak. Min-
neapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995.
Wallerstein, Immanuel. Historical Capitalism with Capitalist Civilization. London
and New York: Verso, 1995.
Waters, Mary Alice, ed. Rosa Luxemburg Speaks. New York: PathWnder Press, 1970.
Waxman, Lori. “Yinka Shonibare.” New Art Examiner 28 (2000): 36–37.
Weigel, Sigrid. Body- and Image-Space: Re-reading Walter Benjamin. London and
New York: Routledge, 1996.
Weitz, Eric. Creating German Communism, 1890–1990. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton
University Press, 1997.
Wenzel, Jennifer. “‘The Same Book Many Times’? Nostalgia, Africa, and Some
Versions of the Third World.” Paper presented at the Modern Language
Association convention, December 28, 2001.
Wesseling, H. L. Divide and Rule: The Partition of Africa, 1880–1914. Trans. Arnold
J. Pomerans. Westport, Conn: Praeger, 1996.
Williams, Raymond. The Country and the City. New York: Oxford University Press,
———. The Politics of Modernism. London and New York: Verso, 1989.
Zantop, Susanne. Colonial Fantasies: Conquest, Family, and Nation in Precolonial Ger-
many, 1770–1870. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1997.