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Classroom colonialism: Race, pedagogy, and patriotism in Imperial Germany

Bowersox, J; (2014) Classroom colonialism: Race, pedagogy, and patriotism in Imperial Germany. In: Naranch, B and Eley, G, (eds.) German colonialism in a global age. (pp. 170-186). Duke University Press: Durham, NC, USA. Green open access

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Abstract

Empire was a central reference point for Wilhelmine Germans trying to define their place within a rapidly changing world. Classrooms were a critical site for working out the parameters of this relationship. Beginning in earnest in the 1880s, German elementary and secondary school students began to wrestle with the non-European world in a variety of disciplines, first and foremost in geography. Lessons on the colonial world encouraged young Germans to see themselves as an important part of an international struggle for strength and prosperity, one in which Germany needed to find, maintain, and even expand its own “place in the sun.” According to this worldview, efficient, civilized nations were bound to intervene and direct the affairs of less efficient peoples for the good of all humanity. Young Germans did not only learn about their own colonial possessions, although these became more prominent as a result of wars in China and Africa. Students also studied those other areas of the world “colonized” by the German public imagination and by German economic interests as well as those regions under the sway of other European and North American powers. These lessons conveyed useful information and patriotic virtues; at the same time, they were used to encourage students’ interest through the obvious appeal of the unfamiliar and adventurous. This contribution examines the institutionalization of colonial education as much more than mere colonialist propaganda. Instead I will situate this development within broader trends in pedagogical reform and mass leisure. Empire occupied and maintained a central place within German curricula during the Wilhelmine period because it could be put to use in ways that satisfied, on the one hand, the demands of teachers for engaging and illustrative material and, on the other, the demands of authorities for practical lessons for developing citizens capable of promoting Germany’s well-being around the globe.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Classroom colonialism: Race, pedagogy, and patriotism in Imperial Germany
ISBN-13: 9780822357117
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.dukeupress.edu/german-colonialism-in-a...
Language: English
Additional information: Published by Duke University Press: http://www.dukeupress.edu/.
Keywords: Colonialism, German history, Education, Geography, Pedagogy, Colonial culture
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1461711
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