Anthropological Patriotism: The <i>Schulstatistik</i> and the Racial Composition of Germany

in Anthropology and Antihumanism in Imperial Germany

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780226983417
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226983462 | DOI:
Anthropological Patriotism: The Schulstatistik and the Racial Composition of Germany

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In addition to presenting a model for political and intellectual culture in the Kaiserreich, anthropology contributed to a reconstruction of German nationalism. In the 1870s, the German Anthropological Society persuaded the German states to record the hair, eye, and skin color of over 6 million German schoolchildren to determine the fate of the fair-skinned, blond, blue-eyed “classic Teutons” (classische Erscheinungen des Germanen) described by Tacitus and the origins of the brown-skinned, brown-haired, brown-eyed individuals who had become so preponderant in Germany. The survey produced important anthropological knowledge about the nation, particularly that Germans were a blond, blue-eyed, and white-skinned “race,” which was contrasted to brunet “races,” particularly Jews. Anthropologists thus made their notions of race, which they had developed in studies of non-Europeans, relevant also to European identity. Instead of Humboldt's nation of scholars or Fichte's linguistic notion of Germanness, anthropologists disseminated a biological national identity, one that would have importance for subsequent developments in German history.

Keywords: political culture; German nationalism; patriotism; race; non-Europeans; national identity

Chapter.  4894 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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