The Nation as a Local Metaphor: Wurttemberg, Imperial Germany, and National Memory, 1871-1918

TitleThe Nation as a Local Metaphor: Wurttemberg, Imperial Germany, and National Memory, 1871-1918
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsConfino, Alon
Number of Pages280
PublisherUniversity of North Carolina Press
CityChapel Hill
Abstract

All nations make themselves up as they go along, but not all make themselves up in the same way. In this study, the author explores how Germans turned national and argues that they imagined the nation as an extension of their local place. In 1871, the work of political unification had been completed, but Germany remained a patchwork of regions with different histories and traditions. Germans had to construct a national memory to reconcile the peculiarities of the region and the totality of the nation. This nationhood project was successful, the author argues, because Germans made the nation into an everyday, local experience through a variety of cultural forms, including museums, school textbooks, popular poems, travel guides, posters, and postcards. This project was not unique, however; the author also situates German nationhood within the larger context of modernity, and in doing so he raises broader questions about how people in the modern world use the past in the construction of identity.

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45727464

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