Through Sebastian Conrad’s continuities of rule, islands of power, the struggle for legitimacy, and the use of violence against colonized subjects, it can be understood how colonized subjects reacted to structures of German colonial society in positive, passive, and negative ways.
It appears that there was no set definition for what constituted both German nationalism and Germanness, and this is only made more apparent when analyzing how the loose definitions of both changed over time.
According to David Ciarlo, it was not simply “empire” that the Germans were obsessed with, but the “display of empire in grand, well-crafted, artful stagings.” Like exhibitions in Britain and France, Germany’s 1890s exhibitions portrayed Germany as being a colony-holding world power.
The German colonial state was largely built upon already established forms of rule in any given colony, but German rule was largely weak. This weakness was due to a “lack of legitimacy and of ideological hegemony,” and therefore Conrad viewed it as “no coincidence that violence and warfare…were inherent in the colonial system.”