Race and World Politics: Germany in the Age of Imperialism, 1878–1914

Andrew Zimmerman

in The Oxford Handbook of Modern German History

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199237395
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 Race and World Politics: Germany in the Age of Imperialism, 1878–1914

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This article analyses the question of race in world politics in the backdrop of imperialistic Germany. Racism and concepts of race emerged from an unequal, regionally varying, and international division of labor inside Europe and the United States and in those regions around the world over which Europe and the United States came to exercise formal and informal imperial power. Germany developed a unique Central-European politics of race in the contested Polish provinces of the Prussian East, and they annexed in the eighteenth-century partitions of Poland. Many Germans regarded Poles as deficient in Kultur, a concept signifying everything from diligent work habits to a secular rationality supposedly absent among Catholic Poles. Early German racism was thus cultural rather than biological and was promoted by the progressive bourgeois. As a principle of social ordering, race functioned as a colonial kinship system, and thus depended ultimately on the control of sexuality. A comparative analysis between international racism and German racism concludes this article.

Keywords: race; politics; world politics; social ordering; colonial kinship system; international racism

Article.  8963 words. 

Subjects: History ; Colonialism and Imperialism

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