Meet the Author. A Conversation with Andrew Zimmerman about "Alabama in Africa" - 28.09.2017

Evening event for PhD Students on the eve of the SGWSG / SSHES annual meeting (Bern)

Organized by the Swiss Society of Economic and Social History (SGWSG / SSHES) in collaboration with  Basel Graduate School of History, Program doctoral en histoire contemporaine (PDHC), Doktoratsprogramm Geschichte Universität Zürich.

On the eve of the annual meeting of the Swiss Society for Economic and Social History, doctoral students will have the opportunity to talk with Andrew Zimmerman (George Washington University) about his renown book “Alabama in Africa: Booker T. Washington, the German Empire, and the Globalization of the New South”.

Participants are expected to read in advance the introduction, the fifth chapter, and the conclusions from the book.

For information about the annual meeting of the Swiss Society of Economic and Social History see:

When where

28 September 2017, 6.00 – 8.00 pm. A dinner will follow.

University of Bern, Hochschulstrasse 4, Room 115 / 1st floor West


Please register no later than September 15 here.

The Basel Graduate School of History, the Program doctoral en histoire contemporaine (PDHC), and (to be confirmed) the Doktoratsprogramm Geschichte Universität Zürich will cover the travel expenses of their members.


Andrew Zimmerman is professor of history at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. Before joining the History Department at George Washington University, Professor Zimmerman completed his PhD in History at the University of California, San Diego, and was a Mellon fellow in history at the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University. He is currently working on a global history of the American Civil War.

On the book

In 1901, the Tuskegee Institute, founded by Booker T. Washington, sent an expedition to the German colony of Togo in West Africa, with the purpose of transforming the region into a cotton economy similar to that of the post-Reconstruction American South. Alabama in Africa explores the politics of labor, sexuality, and race behind this endeavor, and the economic, political, and intellectual links connecting Germany, Africa, and the southern United States. The cross-fertilization of histories and practices led to the emergence of a global South, reproduced social inequities on both sides of the Atlantic, and pushed the American South and the German Empire to the forefront of modern colonialism.

Zimmerman shows how the people of Togo, rather than serving as a blank slate for American and German ideologies, helped shape their region's place in the global South. He looks at the forms of resistance pioneered by African American freedpeople, Polish migrant laborers, African cotton cultivators, and other groups exploited by, but never passive victims of, the growing colonial political economy. Zimmerman reconstructs the social science of the global South formulated by such thinkers as Max Weber and W.E.B. Du Bois, and reveals how their theories continue to define contemporary race, class, and culture.

Tracking the intertwined histories of Europe, Africa, and the Americas at the turn of the century, Alabama in Africa shows how the politics and economics of the segregated American South significantly reshaped other areas of the world.