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The Persistence of Race: Continuity and Change in Germany from the Wilhelmine Empire to National Socialism

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The Persistence of Race

Continuity and Change in Germany from the Wilhelmine Empire to National Socialism

Edited by Lara Day and Oliver Haag

274 pages, 20 illus., 5 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-594-5 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (October 2017)

eISBN 978-1-78533-595-2 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit  Buy the eBook! $34.95info on epub formatRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“Day and Haag’s volume provides an impressively nuanced and extensive approach to race in times of political rupture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Germany. A timely work relevant to current sociopolitical contexts, The Persistence of Race illuminates how cultural narratives are spun to endorse racist policies and practices that persist to date. Their work pushes readers to question what current cultural narratives exist in the service of racist thought so as to avoid having to dissect them from a retrospective future. The volume successfully achieves this deconstructive task in the transitional periods of Wilhelminian, Weimar, and Nazi Germany’s past.” • Monatshefte

“This book offers instructive accounts of how racialism influenced different individuals and groups in various locales between 1890 and 1945. Even though the volume is not concerned primarily with causation or even discursive change through time, the quality of many of its papers allows the historian to understand better diverse manifestations of racist thinking in modern German society.” • English Historical Review

“The articles present sophisticated readings of key works (novels, scholarly accounts, or statistical data) and insightful analyses of biographies – some of them more familiar than others, but all clearly relevant to the subject at hand. They share a rigorous philosophical and critical approach to racialized narratives, and produce revealing insights into their logical, conceptual and factual contradictions, regardless of whether they appear as more inclusive or more exclusionist on the surface.” • Ethnic and Racial Studies

“The chapters deal not just with a wide chronological and geographic context, but also with a variety of different methodological perspectives, and will repay readers coming from a range of disciplines.” • German Studies Review

“This is an impressively coherent and highly engaging volume. Although it covers ostensibly well-trodden ground, it offers numerous insights and makes thought-provoking connections into a variety of fields in which ‘race’ is significant. Each chapter offers a stimulating read and provides much food for thought.” • Dan Stone, Royal Holloway, University of London

“This edited volume is a welcome addition to existing scholarship on the German history of race. By focusing on cultural narratives in the crucial period between 1871 and 1945, and by incorporating global and transnational insights, the volume sets itself apart from previous work.” • Tuska Benes, College of William & Mary


Race in 20th-century German history is an inescapable topic, one that has been defined overwhelmingly by the narratives of degeneracy that prefigured the Nuremberg Laws and death camps of the Third Reich. As the contributions to this innovative volume show, however, German society produced a much more complex variety of racial representations over the first part of the century. Here, historians explore the hateful depictions of the Nazi period alongside idealized images of African, Pacific and Australian indigenous peoples, demonstrating both the remarkable fixity race had as an object of fascination for German society as well as the conceptual plasticity it exhibited through several historical eras.

Lara Day is an art and cultural historian who earned her doctorate at the University of Edinburgh. She has written on such topics as the artist Anselm Kiefer, collective guilt, and the Wilhelmine Heimatschutz movement, and is she currently preparing an intellectual biography of Paul Schultze-Naumburg for publication. She works for Artsy in Berlin.

Oliver Haag teaches at the University of Barcelona and is Visiting Professorial Fellow at Queen Mary’s College, Chennai. He is the co-editor of Ngapartji Ngapartji: Reciprocal Engagement (Australian National University Press) and has  authored a special issue of National Identities (Routledge). His scholarship has appeared in Continuum, Aboriginal History, Journal of New Zealand Studies, and Neohelicon, among others.

Subject: History: 20th Century to PresentSociology
Area: Germany


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