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Constructing a German Diaspora

The "Greater German Empire", 1871-1914

By Stefan Manz

Routledge – 2014 – 360 pages

Series: Routledge Studies in Modern European History

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    June 10th 2014


This book takes on a global perspective to unravel the complex relationship between Imperial Germany and its diaspora. Around 1900, German-speakers living abroad were tied into global power-political aspirations. They were represented as outposts of a "Greater German Empire" whose ethnic links had to be preserved for their own and the fatherland’s benefits. Did these ideas fall on fertile ground abroad? In the light of extreme social, political, and religious heterogeneity, diaspora construction did not redeem the all-encompassing fantasies of its engineers. But it certainly was at work, as nationalism "went global" in many German ethnic communities. Three thematic areas are taken as examples to illustrate the emergence of globally operating organizations and communication flows: Politics and the navy issue, Protestantism, and German schools abroad as "bulwarks of language preservation." The public negotiation of these issues is explored for localities as diverse as Shanghai, Cape Town, Blumenau in Brazil, Melbourne, Glasgow, the Upper Midwest in the United States, and the Volga Basin in Russia. The mobilisation of ethno-national diasporas is also a feature of modern-day globalization. The theoretical ramifications analysed in the book are as poignant today as they were for the nineteenth century.


"[This] book's greatest merit is that it not only enriches knowledge of the Germany of William II, but helps readers better understand the policies of the National Socialists after 1933. Manz covers an enormous amount of ground looking at various locations worldwide, and unpretentiously but deftly draws on contemporary migration theory. This work, one of the best this reviewer has seen in over 30 years, is a model of historical scholarship and stylistic clarity, and belongs in every academic library. Summing Up: Essential."

-S. Bailey, Knox College, in CHOICE

"In Constructing a German Diaspora Stefan Manz provides a uniquely global approach to both nation-building and noisy nationalism. The perspective from the Reich outward and the diasporic communities inward permits fascinating insights based on research in five continents and supported by vivid quotes from nationalists’ writings. Manz succeeds in capturing the widely different host country legal and social frames; diasporic communities’ complex internal class, gender, and regional specificities; transcultural life-trajectories, and international commercial exchange – and succeeds in juxtaposing the whole to single-track ideological nationalism. Communities, or their elites, welded to the Reich, the emperor-in-person, and foreign-office funding; a foreign and navy policy establishment in Berlin welded to dreams of grandeur and viewing the emigrant/Germans-abroad as stepping stones – Manz skillfully weaves the many strands into a coherent and convincing analysis."

- Dirk Hoerder, Arizona State University (Emeritus)

"The book is an important contribution to migration studies and the history of Imperial Germany which develops existing approaches in empirical, methodological and theoretical terms. It is skillfully structured with didactic finesse and is thus highly accessible. In methodologically innovative ways it brings together a multitude of case histories from across the world under one thematic roof, always retaining necessary differentiation of contact zones. The book can therefore be recommended to a wide circle of readers interested in in the history of Imperial Germany and Germans abroad."

- Historische Zeitschrift

"Stefan Manz has produced a major work of historical scholarship which pushes back the boundaries of our understanding of the meaning of German nationalism and the concept of diaspora, demonstrating that contemporary notions of transnationalism have historical roots which predate the First World War. Using a wide range of archival material Manz has constructed a fascinating narrative utilising examples from German communities from all over the world, which make his book a truly global history… The book will prove essential reading for anybody interested in the historical origins of diaspora and transnationalism and in the rise of German nationalism on a global scale."

- Panikos Panayi, De Montfort University

"This book encourages us to rethink the modes of belonging that informed many German subjectivities during the Kaiserreich."

-H. Glenn Penny, University of Iowa in German History


Introduction 1. Patterns of Migration and Settlement 2. Metropolitan Diaspora Constructions 3. Politics: Navy and Auslandsdeutschtum 4. North America and Russia 5. Religion: Protestantism and Auslandsdeutschtum 6. Language: German Schools Abroad. Outlook and Conclusion. Appendix.

Author Bio

Stefan Manz is a Reader in German at Aston University, Birmingham, UK, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Name: Constructing a German Diaspora: The "Greater German Empire", 1871-1914 (Hardback)Routledge 
Description: By Stefan Manz. This book takes on a global perspective to unravel the complex relationship between Imperial Germany and its diaspora. Around 1900, German-speakers living abroad were tied into global power-political aspirations. They were represented as outposts of a...
Categories: European History, Social & Cultural History, Modern History 1750-1945