Geoff Eley – Empire by Land or Sea? Germany’s Imperial Imaginary, 1870-1945

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Birkbeck-Wiener Library Lecture Series

Event Date: 13 May 2010

Professor Geoff Eley (University of Michigan) Empire by Land or Sea? Germany’s Imperial Imaginary, 1870-1945

This talk seeks to take stock of the current upsurge of interest in German colonialism in order to revisit the much older debates of the 1960s and 1970s prompted by the Fischer Controversy and the work of Hans-Ulrich Wehler concerning social imperialism, the sources of German authoritarianism, and the continuities in German expansionism between Bismarck and Hitler. Extrapolating from the salience and breadth of the pre-1914 ideological consensus about the unavoidable rivalries of the great world empires, it considers the benefits of creating a common conceptual framework for analyzing the overseas colonialism of the Kaiserreich and the landward imperium of the Nazis together.

GEOFF ELEY is currently visiting fellow at the Birkbeck Institute of the Humanities. He is the Karl Pohrt Distinguished University Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is an historian of modern Germany and Britain, who also writes about the history of 19th and 20th century Europe more generally, history and film, and questions of theory and historiography. Most recently he is the author of Forging Democracy: The History of the Left in Europe, 1850-2000 (2002); A Crooked Line: From Cultural History to the History of Society (2005); (with Keith Nield) The Future of Class in History: What’s Left of the Social? (2007), and (with Rita Chin, Heide Fehrenbach, and Atina Grossmann), After the Nazi Racial State: Difference and Democracy in Germany and Europe (2009). He is currently visiting fellow at the Birkbeck Institute of the Humanities.

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