"The Göhrings' housemaids and children."
Göhring, Martin (Mr)
date early : 1909-01-01.0., date late : 1912-12-31.0.

"The Chief with his children."
Göhring, Martin (Mr)
date early : 1905-01-01.0., date late : 1912-12-31.0.

"Rev. Vielhauer with his houseboys."
Göhring, Martin (Mr)
date early : 1906-01-01.0., date late : 1912-12-31.0.

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Domestic Realms

The domestic realm was the site of important interaction across gender, class, and racial lines. This sub-section examines snapshots of African and missionary domestic settings in Ghana and Cameroon. In E-30.28.023 we see the five African housemaids in the Göhring household in Bamum. Interesting questions about their social origins, how they ended up in the Göhring household, and their relations with the Göhrings, unfortunately, cannot be answered. It is striking that all five are in a similar dress made from the same fabric, hinting at a uniformity of identity or status, at least from the perspective of the Göhrings. The two Göhring children, in contrast, are distinct in their clothing. We see the domestic realm of the Bamum chief in E-30.29.062, and the chief is shown dressed in European clothes and cap, holding an infant and surrounded by about 77 of “his children,” all evidently under the age of eighteen. In Africa wealth was counted in people and having large families and retinues was indicative of political power and economic wealth. Big men and women acquired dependents that were not related to them biologically or even through kinship. It is possible that the chief did not father all the children in the photo. In E-30.25.042 we see Rev. Vielhauer with his houseboys. These are young boys, at most in their teen years. Was this domestic arrangement a form of fostering between African families and the missionaries, a wage relationship, or these were former slaves or pawns now in a patron-client relationship with the missionaries? In E-30.25.045 we see a children’s nurse pushing a European baby in a pram and with an African child on her back. The nurse looks young and it is uncertain if the baby on her back is her own child. Would such children (different races) be playmates in such a setting? Would growing up bring an end to such a relationship?
In E-30.26.048, the photo of the chief of Bali with his wives and children, all semi-nude, is a sharp contrast to the chief of Bamum and his household, often seen in elegant clothing. We have an intimate glimpse in E-30.27.002 of a woman shaving the head of her husband. Was it usual for wives to shave the heads of their husbands in Bali? Again, the woman is more scantily clothed than the husband, and Bali men in the Basel photos are often more fully clothed than their women.