Jeff Bowersox

Raising Germans in the Age of Empire

Youth and Colonial Culture, 1871-1914

University Press 2013

New Books in EducationNew Books in European StudiesNew Books in German StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network October 23, 2013 Monica Black

Germany embarked on the age of imperialism a bit later than other global powers, and the German experience of empire was much shorter-lived than...

Germany embarked on the age of imperialism a bit later than other global powers, and the German experience of empire was much shorter-lived than that of Britain or France or Portugal. Nonetheless, empire was fundamental, Jeff Bowersox argues, to Germans’ self-understanding and sense of place in the world in an era marked by sweeping changes, including rapid industrialization and economic growth; the rise of an urban proletariat in ever-expanding cities; and the emergence of mass consumer culture and mass politics. Indeed, Bowersox notes, a linkage between German identity and empire long outlasted the German Empire itself. Raising Germans in the Age of Empire: Youth and Colonial Culture, 1871-1914 (Oxford University Press, 2013) looks specifically at youth in this context, and at how young Germans encountered their nation’s overseas empire through a variety of media from the founding of the German nation-state to the eve of World War One.

Germany was not only a brand-new country in this period, as Bowersox points out, it was also a decidedly youthful one: in the first decade of the twentieth century, four in five Germans were under the age of 45. Raising Germans in the Age of Empire looks at how a nation of young people experienced exotic places, at least imaginatively, through material culture, mass education, and social movements like Scouting. The book uses truly fascinating sources–toys, games, school books, cartoons, among many others–to make new and engaging arguments about the German experience of colonialism in the age of European imperialism.

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