Global Diasporas in the Age of High Imperialism

by Ulrike Kirchberger (Volume editor) Steven Ivings (Volume editor)
©2018 Edited Collection 210 Pages


This book sheds new light on the role global migrant communities played in the context of imperial expansion. It offers two systematic chapters and seven case studies which deal with the Japanese, German, African, Chinese and Khoja diasporas. By comparing different diasporic formations with each other and in their relationships to colonial imperialism, the volume challenges the paradigm that imperialist ideologies always originated in the European mother countries of imperial expansion and highlights the multi-directionality of the imperial discourse which crossed diasporas, empires and colour lines. The volume seeks to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the dynamics of global community formation in the context of imperial expansion.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction: Comparing Global Diasporas in the Context of Imperial Expansion (Ulrike Kirchberger)
  • The Japanese Emigrant Empire: Imperial Aspirations and Diaspora Engagement (Wolfram Manzenreiter)
  • Settler Colony or Labour Destination? Karafuto as a Japanese Colony (Steven Ivings)
  • Language Preservation as Colonialist Practice: German Schools Abroad, 1871–1914 (Stefan Manz)
  • From Bipolar Migration to Transcontinental Diaspora Formation: Germans in the Pacific World in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries (Reinhard Wendt)
  • Nationalism among the Overseas Chinese in Australia and Germany in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries (Ida Chingman Yip)
  • The Demand for Rights: Pan-Africanism in the Black Atlantic World, c.1890–1913 (David Killingray)
  • Exploring the Ethno-Religious Identities of the Khōjā: Preliminary Notes on a Missing Homeland (Iqbal Akhtar)
  • Diasporic Temporalities (Ulrike Kirchberger)
  • Index of Personal Names

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Notes on Contributors

Iqbal Akhtar has a joint appointment in the department of religious studies and politics & international relations at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami. He completed his doctorate at the University of Edinburgh’s New College School of Divinity on the history of the African Khōjā. His monograph on the subject is entitled The Khōjā of Tanzania: Discontinuities of a Postcolonial Religious Identity (Leiden: Brill, 2016). His work explores the nature of Khōjā religious identity through philological and ethnographic methodologies. His most recent article on the narrative religious tradition of the Khōjā was published in Narrative Culture and is entitled ‘The Narrative Prayers (‘kahanī’) of the African Khōjā’. Akhtar’s next project examines eighteenth and nineteenth century Khōjā cosmology in Gujarat through a critical translation of the Chronicle of Light (nurināmũ).

Ida Chingman Yip is a sociologist with a PhD from the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. She is currently a guest lecturer at the Education University of Hong Kong. Her research interests include minority ethnic groups, immigrants, migration and settlement, globalisation and transnationalism. She has recently been working on the emerging transnational networks of the Kazakh Dungans in Central Asia. Her work includes ‘The Emerging of Turkish Transnational Entrepreneurs in Germany’, International Review of Turkish Studies 4/3 (2014).

Steven Ivings is an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University, and has previously taught at the “Cluster of Excellence: Asia and Europe in Global Perspective” at Heidelberg University and the Department of Economic History of the London School of Economics. His research focuses on imperialism, trade, migration and colonial economic development in the Japanese empire. He is currently working on a monograph which examines the socio-economic history of Karafuto (southern Sakhalin) between 1905 and 1945.

David Killingray is Professor Emeritus at Goldsmith London, and a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Advanced Study, both University of London. In early career he taught in Tanzania, and more recently in South Africa, and Trinidad. During the last 45 years he has researched, taught, and written on aspects of African, Caribbean, Imperial, and English local history. He has a special interest in the black diaspora, the flu pandemic of 1918–19, and Christian mission activity. His most recent books include Fighting for Britain: African soldiers in the Second World War (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer Ltd., 2010), and Sevenoaks: ← 7 | 8 → An Historical Dictionary (Aldershot: Sevenoaks Historical Society, 2012) [with Elizabeth Purves]. He is currently completing a biography of the Jamaican-born Harold Moody, a study on race, religion and gender in the black Atlantic world, 1880s-1913, and a co-authored book on Sevenoaks in the long nineteenth century.

Ulrike Kirchberger is a research fellow at the University of Kassel and principal investigator in a project on ecological networks and transfers between Australia, South Asia and Africa, 1850–1920, which is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). She has published widely on the history of colonialism and migration. Her most important books are Aspekte deutsch-britischer Expansion. Die Überseeinteressen der deutschen Migranten in Großbritannien in der Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1999) and Konversion zur Moderne? Die britische Indianermission in der atlantischen Welt des 18. Jahrhunderts (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2008).

Stefan Manz is Reader in German Studies at Aston University, Birmingham, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Research areas include global history, Anglo-German relations, and First World War studies. His latest monograph Constructing a German Diaspora: The Greater German Empire, 1871–1914 (New York: Routledge, 2014) was named a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title 2014.

Wolfram Manzenreiter is Professor of Japanese Studies and Vice Head of the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Vienna. His research is concerned with social and anthropological aspects of sports, well-being, work and migration in a globalising world. He is author of several books and numerous articles and book chapters mainly on sport, leisure, popular culture and social issues in contemporary Japan. As a scholar of globalisation, his research also extends into the larger East Asian region and the transnational networks of the Japanese diaspora. Recent publications of note include Life course, Happiness and Well-being in Japan (New York: Routledge, 2017) and the special issue on ‘Squaring diasporas’ of the Taylor&Francis journal Contemporary Japan 29, 2 (2017).

Reinhard Wendt was Professor for modern European and non-European history at the FernUniversitaet Hagen, Germany, from 1998 until his retirement in 2015. His fields of research include cultural contacts, conflicts, and transfers between western and non-western societies, with a thematic emphasis on mission history, the development of diasporas and the transformation of Europe through imports and influences from the “overseas” world. A regional focus lies on Southeast Asia and Oceania. In 1997, he published a study on the role of Spanish-Catholic festivals in the Philippines: Fiesta Filipina: Koloniale Kultur zwischen Imperialismus und neuer Identitaet. In his Vom Kolonialismus zur Globalisierung: Europa und die ← 8 | 9 → Welt seit 1500, which was published first in 2007 and in a second edition in 2016, he offers a view of the manifold political, economic, and cultural transactions between Europe and the world since the sixteenth century.

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The chapters in this volume comprise a selection of papers which were first presented at an international conference at the University of Kassel in September 2014. At the conference, participants from all around the world and from various disciplines developed very different perspectives on the question of what makes a global diaspora, in how far global migrant communities can be compared and how they can be related to imperial expansion. We are grateful to all the participants for their papers and the lively and often controversial discussions. The conference was financially supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). At Peter Lang publisher, Dr. Hermann Ühlein and Susanne Hoeves guided us through the publication process. We would also like to thank two student assistants at the University of Kassel, Michael Stingl and Miguel Ohnesorge, who provided invaluable assistance with organising the conference and preparing the book manuscript for publication.

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Ulrike Kirchberger

Introduction: Comparing Global Diasporas in the Context of Imperial Expansion

Abstract: The introduction deals with methodological issues of comparing global communities. It examines key concepts and categories which are to be applied when relating global diasporas and colonial empires to each other.

The age of high imperialism was characterised by a high degree of mobility and long-distance migration, and, at the same time, by nationalism and a growing interest in defining ethnic and racial identities on a global scale. In such a context “diasporic attachments” gained in significance.1 However, what kind of global communities can be defined as “diasporic” in character, what role they played in the context of imperial expansion, and in what ways different diasporas can be related to each other, is far from clear.

Historians have long been interested in the so-called “age of high imperialism” and have produced a wealth of literature on various aspects and geographical regions of European expansion. The field of nineteenth and early twentieth century long-distance migration is likewise well established. Most transcontinental migrations and ethnic minorities have found their historians. Diaspora studies, which has a long tradition in sociology, religious studies and anthropology, has been discovered by historians more recently and is being applied to a broad range of religious and ethnic contexts.2 The various pan-movements, such as pan-Asianism, ← 13 | 14 → pan-Islamism or Zionism, which developed in the late nineteenth century, are also well researched.3

Most of these studies, however, are limited to one ethnicity or religious denomination. There is little research which compares different long-distance migrations with each other or links migration to imperialism on a global scale.4 “The segmented nature of the migration history field” has not only been criticised with respect to a lack of comparative analysis but also because transcontinental migration studies too often focus on one world region, for example on migrations in the Indian Ocean world or on Transatlantic migration.5 Furthermore, it has been argued from a more methodological point of view that “migration studies … and world history … develop in relative isolation from each other”.6

There are, indeed, only very few comprehensive studies which try to mend this deficit and bring concerns of world history together with issues of transcontinental migration history. Some of these works resemble handbooks and cover large periods of time.7 The collection of essays “Connecting Seas and Connected ← 14 | 15 → Ocean Rims” has a more focused time frame and concentrates on the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However, it still follows regional categories. Its chapters deal with migrations across the Indian Ocean, the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean in turn.8


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2018 (October)
Japanese colonialism German colonialism Pan-African movement Chinese nationalism Khoja identity Global history
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien. 2018, 209 pp., 5 b/w ill., 1 b/w tab.

Biographical notes

Ulrike Kirchberger (Volume editor) Steven Ivings (Volume editor)

Ulrike Kirchberger is a research fellow at the University of Kassel, Germany. She has published widely on the history of European colonialism and on the history of migration. Her current research deals with ecological networks and transfers between Australia, South Asia and Africa, c. 1850-1920. Steven Ivings is an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University, Japan. His current research interests include the Japanese empire in a comparative perspective, colonial migration, and migratory labour in northern Japan.


Title: Global Diasporas in the Age of High Imperialism