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The Nation as a Local Metaphor: Wurttemberg, Imperial Germany, and National Memory, 1871-1918 Paperback – October 27, 1997
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Offers an important and well-researched analysis.
"Well-written, lavishly illustrated, and meticulously documented.
A skillful guide through the thicket of nationalist practices.
"Virginia Quarterly Review"
[A] political sociology that confirms the positive contributions that still can be made by the best in the academy.
Gives new insight into the culture of imperial Germany as well as the wider interpretation of European nationalism.
"American Historical Review"
Well-written, lavishly illustrated, and meticulously documented.
ÝA¨ political sociology that confirms the positive contributions that still can be made by the best in the academy.
[A] stimulating study. . . . Gives new insight into the culture of imperial Germany as well as the wider interpretation of European nationalism.--American Historical Review
An important contribution to the scholarship on German nationalism. It is a highly original and innovative analysis of the institutional links that allowed for the attachment to the Heimat to merge with the enthusiastic adhesion to the nation.--Saul Friedlander, University of California, Los Angeles
By showing how German identity was constructed from the bottom up, using local loyalties as its basic building blocks, Alon Confino gives us a wholly new and convincing view of that nation's history. His exploration of the multiple meanings of Heimat is a brilliant contribution to the growing literature on collective memory.--John Gillis, Rutgers University
[An] excellent study. . . . Such a study requires innovative thinking as well as recourse to and creative use of unusual sources so as to get at material that will reconstruct a mentality of a given era. And so Confino did all these things, and he did them well. . . . Confino's study is not merely history. It is more than history. It is a sort of political sociology that confirms the positive contributions that still can be made by the best in the academy.--European Legacy
Anyone interested in nationalism must read this book. . . . A skillful guide through the thicket of nationalist practices.--Virginia Quarterly Review
Well-written, lavishly illustrated, and meticulously documented.--Choice
Offers an important and well-researched analysis.--German Quarterly
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Confino focuses his volume in the southwestern German region of Wurttemberg, where two celebrations--one commemorating military triumphs, the other a feature of provincial history--illustrate the differing forms of nationalism taking place in the young country. First he recounts the celebration of Sedan Day, when Prussian troops captured Napoleon III, emperor of France, and imprisoned him during the Franco-Prussian War. Then he describes the celebration of so-called Heimat memory in Wurttemberg, which is endemic to the province, and how its practice in the province fostered nationalism throughout the new country. Wurttemberg is a case study for German nationalism.
One interesting aside is that the city of Berlin was disinterested in commemorating the new nation, creating a vacuum for national pride whose roots were being sowed out in the provinces. Members of professional classes filled the hole.
Sedan Day failed as a foundation for national pride, because the event was celebrated chiefly as a political success rather than fitting the occasion within the centuries-long narrative of Germanic people. Since it was an individual event memories of it would dissipate over time, which is what happened in the 1890s.
What was more successful was the celebration of the Heimat idea. Led by local bourgeoisie, the idea projected a connection of the present-day German Empire to its past, evoking a thread of togetherness mainly through the use of iconography. Every German has skin in the Heimat idea, while only soldiers can reflect fondly on the triumphs of Sedan Day. Images summoned many conceptions of what it meant to be a German; and it mattered little that the images were based accurately on the historical record. Through this idea of Heimat, Germany branded itself as a nation which emphasized the local community. And it promoted the brand through local celebrations, the collective effect of which was the creation of a national symbol freed of political overtones.
Why this volume is successful as a form of scholarship of nationalism is because it traces the development of this -ism slowly and in minute detail. Its thesis avoids the simplicity of arguing that nationalism formed as a response to the advances of the industrial age, an idea which is both over-inclusive and under-inclusive.
As much as I would recommend the volume, I would add, importantly, that I would not have picked it up had it not been assigned reading for a course on German nationalism. Confino does not direct the book for a general readership. Another drawback is its editing: he retraces the same idea several times, telling it in different ways. Often there are dense passages which are hard for a reader to get through.