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Environing Empire: Nature, Infrastructure and the Making of German Southwest Africa

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Volume 23

Environment in History: International Perspectives

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Environing Empire

Nature, Infrastructure and the Making of German Southwest Africa

Martin Kalb

362 pages, 28 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-80073-290-2 $130.00/£96.00 / Hb / Not Yet Published (April 2022)

Hb View cartYour country: United States - edit   Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“In this compelling portrait of how non-human actors—from ocean currents to arid interiors to naval shipworms—thwarted German colonial ambitions, Martin Kalb fills a significant gap in the scholarship about a country and a region of growing international interest to environmentalists and ecotourists.” • Thomas M. Lekan, University of Southern Carolina


Even leaving aside the vast death and suffering that it wrought on indigenous populations, German ambitions to transform Southwest Africa in the early part of the twentieth century were largely futile. For years colonists fought ocean waters and desert landscapes in their struggle to turn outwardly barren landscapes into a profitable settler colony, a project that had failed long before its invasion by British and South African forces in World War I. As Martin Kalb demonstrates in this innovative environmental history, understanding the material “realities on the ground” reveals not only the folly of this particular colonial endeavor, but of the fantasies that drove the imperial vision of the Kaiserreich.

Martin Kalb is an Assistant Professor of History at Bridgewater College in Virginia. His research on the histories of everyday life (Alltagsgeschichte), youth, and environmental history has appeared in academic journals and edited volumes; his monograph Coming of Age: Constructing and Controlling Youth in Munich, 1942–1973 was published in 2016.

Subject: History: 20th Century to Present Environmental Studies (General)
Area: Africa


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