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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Cocky' Hahn and the 'Black Venus': The Making of a Native Commissioner in South West Africa, 1915-46
Author:Hayes, PatriciaISNI
Periodical:Gender and History
Geographic term:Namibia
Subjects:gender relations
colonial administrators
biographies (form)
About person:Carl Hugo Linsingen HahnISNI
Abstract:Drawing upon research into processes of State construction in the mandated territory of South West Africa (present-day Namibia), this article explores how gendered meanings were constructed through colonial violence, administration and ethnography. Central to the analysis is the figure of the Native Commissioner of Ovamboland, Carl Hugo Linsingen Hahn, who served for three decades (1915-1946) in the region. Hahn was dubbed 'Cocky' Hahn by whites but known universally to the Ovambo as 'Shongola' (the whip). He wrote ethnographic texts on 'the Ovambo', and for thirty-two years he authored the administrative reports on Ovamboland from which present-day researchers must garner their knowledge. The article shows the highly ambivalent means by which Hahn's voice became that of an expert and explores its powerful legacy. It focuses on a moment when the ambivalence lying at the heart of Hahn's project was briefly laid bare and then subsequently smoothed over. The native commissioner's name was raised in a set of legal investigations in the 1920s, which took the form of an Official Complaints Enquiry. Hahn was accused of illegal trading activities, the use of violence in his dealings with the Ovambo and the abuse of an Ovambo woman. Although he was exonerated, the questions raised by the Enquiry remain crucial to Namibian historiography. Notes, ref., sum.(p. iv).