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Prisms of Work

Michael Rösser


Michael Rösser
Prisms of Work
Labour, Recruitment and Command in German East Africa
(series: Work in Global and Historical Perspective, volume 21)
Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2023
print: ISBN 9783111204628 // e-book: ISBN 9783111218090 (open access)
406 pages
49,95 € (hardcover)

In his dissertation "Prisms of Work – Labour, Recruitment and Command in German East Africa", which has already been awarded an "honorary distinction" by the European Network in Universal and Global History (ENIUGH) and has now been published by de Gruyter, Michael Rösser starts from the thesis that the phenomenon of work has the character of a prism. Labour is always context-dependent and is constituted by the actions of all actors involved in an employment relationship.

In his book, which has now been published as part of the series "Work in Global and Historical Perspective" (21), Rösser analyses labour and labour relations based on three case studies in colonial German East Africa – the construction of the Central Railway (1905–1916), the Otto Plantation in Kilossa (1907–1916) and the palaeontological Tendaguru Expedition (1909–1911). The focus of his considerations is on hitherto neglected actors and groups of actors of labour in the colonial context of East Africa: these were primarily German companies and their employees, white subaltern railway subcontractors and labour brokers, Indian skilled workers and (qualified) East African workers. The places of work also proved to have their own logics and characteristics, since they all existed in a relationship of tension between the "global" and the "local", between coercion and voluntariness, between machine and manual labour, between skilled and unskilled labour, between reproductive and wage labour, and between black and white.

Hartmut Rosa, Director of the Max-Weber-Kolleg of the University of Erfurt: "We are delighted that Michael Rösser's research, which he carried out at the Max-Weber-Kolleg, has now been published in a renowned series and is being recognised internationally. This is also an encouragement for all our doctoral researchers who are working on their dissertations."