The study of African languages in Germany, or Afrikanistik, originated among Protestant missionaries in the early nineteenth century and was incorporated into German universities after Germany entered the "Scramble for Africa" and became a colonial power in the 1880s. Despite its long history, few know about the German literature on African languages or the prominence of Germans in the discipline of African philology. In Africa in Translation: A History of Colonial Linguistics in Germany and Beyond, 1814--1945, Sara Pugach works to fill this gap, arguing that Afrikanistik was essential to the construction of racialist knowledge in Germany. While in other countries biological explanations of African difference were central to African studies, the German approach was essentially linguistic, linking language to culture and national identity. Pugach traces this linguistic focus back to the missionaries' belief that conversion could not occur unless the "Word" was allowed to touch a person's heart in his or her native language, as well as to the connection between German missionaries living in Africa and armchair linguists in places like Berlin and Hamburg. Over the years, this resulted in Afrikanistik scholars using language and culture rather than biology to categorize African ethnic and racial groups. Africa in Translation follows the history of Afrikanistik from its roots in the missionaries' practical linguistic concerns to its development as an academic subject in both Germany and South Africa throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Sara Pugach is Assistant Professor of History at California State University, Los Angeles.
Jacket image: Perthes, Justus. Mittel und Süd-Afrika. Map. Courtesy of the University of Michigan's Stephen S. Clark Library map collection.
The point of departure of this project is the realization that most of the early modern speakers and authors demonstrate strong self-awareness as multilingual communicators. From the foul-mouthed gondolier to the learned humanist, language choice and use were carefully performed, and often justified, in order to overcome (or affirm) linguistic and social differences. The urban social spaces, the princely court, and the elite centres of learning such as universities and academies all shared similar concerns about the value, effectiveness, and impact of languages. As the contributions in this book demonstrate, early modern communicators — including gondoliers, preachers, humanists, architects, doctors of medicine, translators, and teachers—made explicit and argued choices about their use of language. The textual and oral performance of languages—and self-aware discussions on languages—consolidated the identity of early modern Italian multilingual communities.
More specifically, some chapters revolve around issues of intra-/inter-group identities in the context of itineraries of recent or historical migrations, and how such variegated identities are re-shaped by and through the media, in a dynamic interplay of symbols and clichés. In the same vein, gender issues are also addressed in a dimension suspended between tradition and modernity, with a special focus on Turkish women. The multi-dimensional Turkish culture and landscape are also voiced through an example of blended American/Turkish children’s literature.
Other chapters explore the language of tourism in the diverse multimodal representations and textualizations of the tourist experience in Mediterranean destinations, mainly expressed through social media. The contemporary appreciation of the Mediterranean Diet as a global cultural heritage is also explored through the magnifying lens of such media.
Given the variety of perspectives and methodological approaches adopted by the contributors, this volume offers useful insights to students and practitioners of discourse analysis alike. From an educational perspective, the book, which also includes practical worksheets, can be used in first- and second-level degrees in Foreign Languages, Communication, Political Sciences, Media and Cultural Studies, as well as specific courses in linguistics, multimodal studies, critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics.
The underlying rationale of the book is its concentration on the prominent role of English in representing the Mediterranean heritage, despite the fact that it is a non-Mediterranean language. At the same time, the volume bridges the gap between academic research and class practice at the university level.