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German Studies Association, Pittsburgh, 2006 Panel 54: Transnational Turns in German Studies: Three Case Studies Moderator: Andrew Lees Rutgers University, Camden Campus Imperial America? German and European Reactions towards Indian Removal and American Territorial Expansion, 1789-1848 Jens-Uwe Guettel Yale University Making Invisible Empires: Joseph Dahlmann's India and His Catholic Vision during the Wilhelminian Era Perry Myers Albion College China's German Syndrome: Germany's Long Nineteenth Century and the Rise of China Erik Grimmer-Solem, Wesleyan University Commentator and reporter: George S Williamson University of Alabama Unlike the A.H.A. or the Historikertag, the German Studies Association rarely adopts an official theme for its annual meetings. Nonetheless, the convergence of long-term scholarly trends with recent world events ensured that the problem of "transnationalism" would set the tone for this year's conference. I counted twenty different panels with the words "transnational," "transcultural," "postcolonial," "translation," "cosmopolitan," or "global" (or their German equivalents) in their titles or in the titles of individual papers. But beyond this, problems of globalization, colonialism, migration, and exchange figured heavily into the evidence and argumentation even of papers not explicitly devoted to such issues. From this perspective, Michael Geyer's luncheon talk, "Where Germans Dwell: Transnationalism in Theory and Practice," could be seen as ratifying a significant "turn" in the field. It is perhaps worth remembering that the roots of the present scholarly moment can be traced, at least partly, to a single book: Edward Said's _Orientalism_ (1979). In this classic polemic, Said attempted to expose the intimate connections between the orientalist scholarship of figures like Ernest Renan and Edward William Lane and the imperialist projects of France and Great Britain, as well as, by implication, the United States. It took several years for Said's book to capture the attention of Germanists, and when it did their first reaction was to complain that Germany had been left out. Over the past two decades, scholars have begun to redress this situation, investigating German orientalism in all its forms while challenging Said's Foucaultian assumptions about the relationship between knowledge and power. Meanwhile, historians have begun to explore other forms of intercultural knowledge, including those found in archaeology, ethnography, anthropology, theology, and philology, as well as travel literature, drama, and advertisements. The papers in this panel on "Transnational Turns in German Studies" can all be seen as working if not "in" then at least "off" the Saidian tradition of postcolonial scholarship, while pushing it in new and often provocative directions. Each of them is concerned with the relationship between scholarly knowledge and a certain kind of imperial project, whether it was the goal of Lebensraum for the German nation, the vision of a Catholic India, or the attempt to account for so-called "Asian" values. What is striking, however, is the degree to which these papers shift the scholarly gaze back onto the United States, whether by examining the influence of America's Drang nach Westen on German imperialist ideology or by highlighting the influence of American-style modernization theory on post-war (mis)understandings of Germany, Japan, and China. Perry Myers's paper was entitled "Making Invisible Empires: Joseph Dahlmann's India and His Catholic Vision during the Wilhelmine Era." Joseph Dahlmann (1861-1930) was a Jesuit scholar, who was heavily involved in missionary efforts throughout Asia and helped to found the Catholic University of Tokyo. After a journey through India in 1905, Dahlmann published an account of his travels in _Indische Fahrten_ (1908). Throughout this book he contrasted the glories of India's past, as preserved in its architectural and artistic monuments, with what he saw as the decadence of India's present. At times, Dahlmann slipped into outright condemnation of Indian hygiene, Indian religion, and Indian art (especially that inspired by Hinduism, which portrayed what he described as "filthy scenes" and "lascivities"). The implication, Perry Myers argued, was that the (Protestant) British had failed in their colonial endeavor and that the baton should now be passed to the (German) Catholic Church, whose mission Dahlmann construed in explicitly colonialist terms. Travel writings also formed the basis for Jens-Uwe Guettel's paper, "Imperial America? German 'Amerikabilder' and Nineteenth-Century Expansionist Dreamscapes." In a quick-paced gallop across the nineteenth century, Guettel examined how German travelers to the United States responded to the practices of American slavery and the destruction of the American Indians over the course of westward expansion. While these writers were sympathetic to the plight of slaves and the fate of the Indians, most viewed such suffering as necessary for the advancement of (white) European civilization. Even the Staatslexikon of Rotteck and Welcker endorsed such practices while treating territorial expansion not just as compatible with liberal government but also as a handy solution to the problems of poverty and emigration. By the late nineteenth century, German writers had begun to see the United States as a competitor in world affairs, which made the need to emulate American imperial practices that much more pressing. In a fascinating discussion, Guettel described the impact of Friedrich Ratzel's time in America on his later concept of Lebensraum. One of Ratzel's earliest works, _Sketches of Urban and Cultural Life in North America_ (1876), "portrayed America as a place in which inferior social and racial were (and had to be) marginalized, as history had left them behind." For Ratzel, as for many of his contemporaries, American expansionism and American oppression of minorities seemed the way of the future, and Germany could not afford to fall any further behind. In "China's German Syndrome: Germany's Long Nineteenth Century and the Rise of China," Erik Grimmer-Solem highlighted the continuing influence of an outdated interpretation of German history on the West's understanding of Asian history and contemporary Asian politics. He started the paper by quoting a _Newsday_ column that compared China's potential threat to Pax America with Wilhelmine Germany's threat to Pax Britannica. This type of parallel has become reflexive among American scholars and journalists, in part due to the migration of the Sonderweg model from German history into the historiography of modern Japan. American historians, in particular, tended to view Meiji Japan as an authoritarian, semi-feudal state that embraced "German" cultural values while deviating sustantially from the western model of liberal democracy. Given Germany and Japan's wartime alliance, their occupation by the United States after 1945, and their shared role as the object of America's post-war nation-building efforts, such comparisons are hardly surprising. The problem is that they were grounded in a modernization theory that was both "an analytical tool for explaining why and how far societies have evolved since the advent of industrialization and a set of normative claims about the proper trajectory of that development." In Grimmer-Solem's view, modernization theory took on the quality of a "secular religion" after 1945, in part because it was so closely tied up with the West's self-perception of itself. The emotional hold of such theories, along with the "insular" nature of U.S. scholarship on Meiji Japan, helps to explain why historians of Japan have held onto the Sonderweg model so long after its eclipse in the field of German history. Indeed, the "German gaze," with its similarities to the orientalizing gaze described by Said, has been redeployed to deal with the perceived threat of China and its claims to "Asian" (as opposed to "Western") values. Given the wide range of topics addressed in this session, questions and comments tended to be directed toward individual papers rather than the panel as a whole. In my comment on Perry Myers's paper, I suggested that Dahlmann's critique of contemporary Indian religion might reflect his belief that the most ancient form of Brahmanism encoded a theistic religion that was subsequently corrupted by Buddhism and by later, more polytheistic forms of Hinduism. On this reading, his intention in highlighting what he saw as the "decadence" of contemporary Hindu art and religion was not so much to critique British colonial rule as it was to promote Catholicism and the Catholic mission. In response to Erik Grimmer-Solem's paper, an audience member wondered about the influence of Karl Wittfogel's "hydraulic" hypothesis on the "German" inflected historiography of Japan (according to Wittfogel, the need for large-scale hydraulic projects in Asia had led to the rise of despotic bureaucratic states while stifling the possibilities of liberal and democratic development). Grimm-Solem was unsure of the extent of Wittfogel's influence, but he noted the influence of the Harvard historian Herbert Norman, who interpreted the Meiji restoration as "an absolutist coup initiated by landed interests." Each of these papers demonstrated the striking perspectives and insights that can be achieved in German Studies after the transnational turn, as well as the demands that such scholarship makes on Germanists working in North America. Here I will leave the last word to Erik Grimmer-Solem. "Venturing out of our familiar German and European confines as scholars of German history, culture, and language is uncomfortable. It requires learning new skills and languages and studying unfamiliar scholarship. But if the transnational turn in German Studies is to be more than a hollow invocation we must not be afraid to tackle the big problems and questions that have emerged as the sun sets on the American century and as the Chinese century dawns." For a complete listing of all sessions at the 2006 German Studies Association Conference, please visit https://www.thegsa.org/conferences/2006/index.asp