An Animal-Centered Perspective on Colonial Oppression: Animal Representations and the Narrating Ox in Uwe Timm’s ‘‘Morenga’’ (1978)

Humanities. 2017;6(1):3 DOI 10.3390/h6010003


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Journal Title: Humanities

ISSN: 2076-0787 (Print)

Publisher: MDPI AG

LCC Subject Category: General Works: History of scholarship and learning. The humanities

Country of publisher: Switzerland

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML



Steffen Röhrs (Deutsches Seminar, Leibniz University, Königsworther Platz 1, 30167 Hanover, Germany)


Blind peer review

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Time From Submission to Publication: 11 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

As a result of its topic and its narrative style, Uwe Timm’s novel ‘Morenga’ (1978) marks an important step in the development of postcolonial German literature. The main theme of the book is the bloody suppression of the Herero and the Nama uprisings through the German army in South-West Africa at the beginning of the 20th century. With recourse to historical and fictional documents and by using different narrative perspectives, the text achieves a plurality of voices and thereby destabilizes a one-dimensional view on colonialism. The present article discusses the functions of the nonhuman animals appearing in ‘Morenga’. It is assumed that the animal representations are an essential part of the plot and underscore the criticism of colonial rule in a narrative manner too. The novel contains several descriptions of suffering animals and links them to the harm of the Herero and the Nama in order to point out the ruthlessness of the colonists. Moreover, the book features a story-telling ox, which initiates a reflection process about possible ways of narrating colonial history. The talking ox adds a specific animal-centered perspective on colonial oppression and raises questions about emancipation, self-determination, and the agency of the nonhuman ‘other’