Life paths and knowledge

Objects, bodies and agents of knowledge: colonial North African prisoners-of-war in Germany during the First World War

Larissa Schmid

The idea to revolutionize the Muslim World was a central military and political strategy of the German Empire during the First World War. One central site at which this 'programme for revolution' (Aufwiegelung) was implemented was the Halfmoon camp in the south of Berlin. Here, predominantly Muslim prisoners-of-war from Asia and Africa were interned and subjected to a special treatment in captivity.
The research project investigates the Halfmoon camp as a site of (imperial) knowledge production drawing on approaches of history of knowledge and global history. It analyses how colonial prisoners-of-war from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco were turned into objects and agents of knowledge, be it for military intelligence, imperial politics or academic research. In exploring written, visual sources as well as sound recordings, it analyses practices of knowing and educating Muslim prisoners-of-war in a confined space of a camp stressing colonial and imperial entanglements of actors and practices. Eventually, it examines in what way knowledge produced in the camp supported the construction of Algerian, Tunisian and Moroccan soldiers as a 'racialized other' in public and academic discourse during and after the First World War.