"A measure of the nation" : politics, colonial enthusiasm and education in Germany, 1896-1933 / Kenneth Holston.

Holston, Kenneth.
v, 401 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Local subjects:
Penn dissertations -- History. (search)
History -- Penn dissertations. (search)
Historians of German colonialism have concentrated on the question of whether or not colonialism and imperialism were instrumentalized by a political elite, and in so doing they have failed to address the cultural and politico-cultural aspects of colonial enthusiasm. This thesis explores the links between colonial enthusiasm and German political culture, from 1890 to the mid-1930s. Through an analysis of the political language of colonialism and the efforts of colonial enthusiasts to spread their message through education, I investigate concerns common to contemporary Germans about the class cleavages and political divisiveness wrought by the advent of industrial society and mass politics. I argue that colonial work came to represent a self-perceived unifying activity, one in which encounters abroad with the colonial Other leveled the differences so clearly manifest and lamented at home. Viewed from the perspective of colonial enthusiasts, colonial activity had both a functional-therapeutic effect and a symbolic meaning. To the act of colonial work they imputed a unifying effect on German society and politics. In the fact of colonial possession they saw "a measure of the nation." Convinced of the integrating and unifying power of colonial activity, its proponents sought to make the colonial endeavor more popular. This study pays particular attention to the efforts of colonial interest groups to spread their message through popular means and most forcefully through the German educational system. The appeal of colonialism's unifying symbolism enabled a vibrant colonial movement to sustain its efforts through the Weimar Republic.
Supervisor: Thomas Childers.
Thesis (Ph.D. in History) -- University of Pennsylvania, 1996.
Includes bibliographical references.
University Microfilms order no.: 96-36162.
Childers, Thomas, advisor.
University of Pennsylvania.
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