Dr. Merle Zeigerer, Alumni


Dr. Merle Zeigerer (Germany, 1976)

Staatsexamen in German and History

PhD project
Mental Appropriation of Colonial Landscapes by War Correspondents - Based on the Example of German Colonial Wars in China, German Southwest Africa and German East Africa.
With the rise of the mass media at the end of 19th century, the German colonial project became a new focus of the public at large. What was worth attention in general, was particularly interesting in terms of increased media attention in times of war. Thus, for the first time newspaper agencies sent so-called special correspondents to the German colonial war theatres in order to less dependent on official dispatches and to obtain first-hand reports. This dissertation project is located within this context. The proposed investigation deals with the mental appropriation and interpretation of colonial landscapes by war correspondents in the three major German colonial wars. The Boxer War in China (1900/1901), the Herero-Nama-War in German Southwest Africa (1904-1907) and the Maji-Maji-War in German East Africa will be analysed in a comparative perspective as transnational media events.

With regard to the interdependency of the journalists´ already existing colonial imaginations on the one hand and the `real´ colonial landscapes on the other hand, the focal point here aims at examining the role of correspondents as transmitters of colonial violence. By focusing on the structural conditions of war reporting as well as taking the journalists´ biographies, their publications, and the highly various colonial realities into account, it will be investigated whether and in what way colonial violence found its way back to Germany.

Research interests 19th/20th century colonial history with a special focus on German colonialism in Africa and China, history of communication/journalism from the 19th century to the present (in particular war corresponding), cultural history, German Kaiserreich.

Since April 2010
Member of the graduate school “Human Development in Landscapes” at Kiel University

Graduation (first state exam) with a comparative study on poor relief in Kiel and Eutin in the 1800s

1996 - 2005
Studies of history, German and physical education at Kiel University, University of Vienna/Austria and National University of Galway/Ireland

Work experience

2009 - 2010
Freelance journalist and public relations advisor

Public relations advisor, press and public relations department at Kiel University

Public relations trainee, Provinzial Nord Brandkasse AG, Kiel

Teacher training at a secondary school, Husum