The Namibian Genocide: Reframing the Conflict to Explore Intercultural Connectivity, Inclusiveness and Accurate Memorialization

Lamont A Slater, Salve Regina University


This study examines how technology used by the German colonizers of South West Africa affected native peoples during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. More specifically, the research shows how German attitudes and misclassification of native people, of not only the Herero and Nama tribes, but multiple tribes throughout Namibia, affected the levels of violence shown toward all the indigenous tribes, and not just the two listed in the official documentation of the 1904–1908 genocide. German theories about race, power, and civilization affected the actions of the colonizers toward each of the indigenous groups of people in what is today Namibia. Essential to the reframing of the German genocide of the Herero and Nama people to a broader application to include the San, Ovambo, and Damara tribes are the interviews with perpetrators, court reports, victim testimonies, and archival photographs from the National Achieves of Namibia. The author applies the framework of Michel Foucault’s bio-power and Lonnie Athens’ violentization theory to show the effects of a German imperial organization directing missionaries, settlers, and military in methods to control native tribes. The ensuing violence linked to the takeover of native lands, displacement of the people, and assignment to forced labor camps, with shackling, torture and mutilation accompanied by deaths of the innocent. This form of exploitation was completed under the guise of scientific racism, and was used to exploit precious minerals from the area. This study contributes new insights into the experiences of Namibian people subject to technologies applied by violence to attain power. Finally, the lasting legacy of the genocide is presented in the form of memorialization. Not only does the research show that different tribes have been removed from the previous stories of the genocide, but in a literal sense, the names of the indigenous casualties have been removed from the historical record.

Subject Area

African Studies|Holocaust Studies|South African Studies

Recommended Citation

Slater, Lamont A, "The Namibian Genocide: Reframing the Conflict to Explore Intercultural Connectivity, Inclusiveness and Accurate Memorialization" (2018). Doctoral Dissertations. AAI10823269.