Keywords: Citizenship; Colonialism; German East Africa.
In the colonial context, the legal institution of citizenship often assumed a bio-political meaning; in this way ethnic and racial differences became legal categories. A look at the citizenship policy in German East Africa confirms this and offers a new perspective on the relationships between the colonized and the colonizers. This article concentrates on the occupation and establishment of German rule in East Africa at the turn of the 20th century, a period marked by a crisis caused by the new regime's impact on the local population. On the one hand, colonial rule quickly sought to fragment the local society and assign its different parts a broad multiplicity of juridical statuses, seeking to divide the colonizers from the colonized on a racial basis; on the other hand, this operation also created margins of negotiation for sectors of colonial society that hoped to position themselves in this new political context. The article highlights the necessity of placing the issue of colonial citizenship in a broad postcolonial interpretative framework that takes into consideration the local actors and does so by joining together issues of (internal) colonial and international policy and those of economic interests and cultural dimensions.