Boy's and Girl's Own Empires: Gender and the Uses of the Colonial World In Kaiserreich Youth Magazines

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Book Chapter

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While Germans were increasingly interested in efforts to maintain and develop their own, recently acquired colonial possessions, this interest was predicated on and intimately intertwined with Germans’ familiarity with a larger world order defi ned by empire. They defi ned their world in terms of hierarchies of relative civilization, and in this world it was generally assumed that the civilized, however defi ned, had a right and duty to intervene in the affairs of the less civilized. Indeed, the very measure of a society’s vitality was its ability to spread progress, however defi ned, to those in need of it. Just as social reformers argued for the need to mould the unruly working classes in a more “respectable” image and nationalists demanded the Germanization of backward national minorities within Germany’s borders, so did this conception reference, explain, and justify the expansion of European infl uence around the globe by establishing a fundamental opposition between civilized and uncivilized. The expressions of this worldview in the media of mass culture were not monolithic and consistent, but they were no less important for their fl exibility. As producers shaped their products to appeal and apply to specifi c audiences, they referenced empire in various and sometimes contradictory ways, always infl ected by notions of gender, race, class, confession, nation, and Kultur.

Publication Title

German Colonialism and National Identity

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