The genocidal gaze
From German South West Africa to the Third Reich
UNAM Press July 2018
Adding to the increasing body of literature on the contentious period of the 1904-08 Namibian genocide, Elizabeth Baer’s analysis focuses on the concept of the genocidal gaze and the African gaze of resistance to it. Implying power structures, the notion of the gaze allows Baer to explore different modes of perception and presentation of dominance and victimhood, over time and through the eyes of both German and African authors.She draws on literary texts and art, using the 19th century letters and diaries of visionary Nama leader, Hendrik Witbooi; a 1906 colonial novel by the German Gustav Frenssen, and three post-Holocaust texts by German Uwe Timm, Ghanaian novelist Ama Ata Aidoo, and artist William Kentridge of South Africa.
Highlighting concepts such as racial superiority, lebensraum (living space), rassenschande (racial shame) and endlösung (final solution), as well as methods such as the use of concentration camps, death camps, intentional starvation, and the killing of women and children, she demonstrates connections between the Ovaherero and Nama genocide and that of the Holocaust in the 1940s.
The Genocidal Gaze is a challenging discussion of contemporary issues such as colonial practices, cultures in contact, definitions of genocide, European and African race relations and post-colonial theory.