Language, Empire and the World: Karl Roehl and the History of the Swahili Bible in East Africa

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Abstract / Description of output

While German colonialism as an imperial system was once neglected by historians, this neglect was less acute in the case of the histories of individual German colonies. Yet here too, new perspectives on German colonial and postcolonial history, informed by an attention to global and transnational entanglements, might offer new insights. In this article, I take the controversy over Karl Roehl's translation of the Bible into Swahili as a case study. Viewed through the lens of a traditional imperial history, controversies during the interwar period over linguistics in general and Bible translation in particular between Britain and Germany replicated imperial rivalries; viewed from a global perspective, however, the Roehl Bible is revealing of the ways in which German colonial irredentism went alongside a continued German role in the transnational entanglements which helped to shape the modern world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)600-616
JournalThe Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
Volume41
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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