The German Atlantic? Recovering an Invisible World

This is an Archive of a Past Event

This talk will draw from a larger project on “Germany in the World, 1500-2000”. The absence of a German nation state before 1871 and of formal German colonies before the 1880s has had the effect that the German presence in an increasingly interconnected world remains largely hidden. Whether we are thinking about settlers, merchants, mining engineers, missionaries or travelers in the cause of science, Germans did not fly under a German flag but nested within the colonies established by others. In the case of the Atlantic world of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, that meant the British, French and Dutch. Germans played a greater role than we think; often they were important go-betweens or intermediaries. My presentation will try to recover this invisible German presence.

David Blackbourn is professor of German and European History at Vanderbilt University. He has written on a wide range of subjects within the field of German history since the eighteenth century and is the author of six books: Class, Religion and Local Politics in Wilhelmine Germany (1980), The Peculiarities of German History (with Geoff Eley, 1984), Populists and Patricians (1987), Marpingen: Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Nineteenth-Century Germany (1993), winner of the Hans Rosenberg Prize, History of Germany 1780-1918: The Long Nineteenth Century (2nd ed, 2002), and The Conquest of Nature: Water, Landscape and the Making of Modern Germany (2006), winner of the George Mosse Prize and the Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Prize for Best Book in Forest and Conservation History. He has also co-edited two volumes. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, President of the Friends of the German Historical Institute Washington, and a member of the editorial board of the journal Past and Present. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, among others, and his work has appeared in eleven languages. He is currently working on a book about Germany in the World, 1500-2000, a global history.