"For [Edward] Said a geographic imaginary refers, literally, to how spaces are ‘imagined’, how meaning is ascribed to physical spaces (such that they are perceived, represented and interpreted in particular ways), how knowledge about these places is produced, and how these representations make various courses of action possible. Geography is ‘imagined’ in the sense that it does not necessarily relate to a physically distinct space, although boundaries may be constructed on the basis of these imaginations designating spaces as ‘here’ and ‘there’, and belonging to ‘us’ or ‘them.’"
- Kothari & Wilkinson, (2010) “Colonial Imaginaries and Postcolonial Transformations: exiles, bases, beaches,” p. 1397.
This course addresses how the German national imaginary is constructed through narratives about landscapes and the people who belong (and don’t belong) there. We ask: how do narratives about landscapes at home and abroad create a national imaginary? Who are the subjects and Others of these landscapes? How do these narratives encourage us to think about social transformation and agents of change?
In part one of this course we open with the concept of the national imaginary and pay particular attention to the role of race and gender in its creation. In part two we study how home and abroad are constructed through landscapes, heroes, and Others. Part three of this course analyzes the landscapes and heroes of the German national imaginary by reading the classic German adventure stories of Karl May and studying the importance of narratives about landscape in the Volkish Movement, National Socialism, and today’s far right today. In part four we study the landscapes, heroes and others that are imagined in relation to contemporary social justice initiatives such as global citizenship, volunteer abroad, and solidarity. In this section we see how the landscapes and heroes that we trace are both enacted and resisted in liberal, left, and social justice movements.
- The following is a tentative course of study and will evolve. For books, we will study excerpts or 1 chapter (not the entire book!). Texts of all kinds (photography, video, fiction, scholarly articles, etc.) will be included in our study:
Part 1: National Imaginaries: Colonialism, Race, and Gender
Said, E. (1979). Orientalism. New York, NY: Vintage Books.
Anderson, B. (1983). Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalisms. London, England: Verso Press.
Part 2: Constructions of Home and Abroad: Landscapes, Heroes, and Others
Chard, C. (1999). Pleasure and guilt on the Grand Tour: Travel writing and imaginative geography 1600– 1830. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press.
Grewal, I. (1996). Home and harem: Nation, gender, empire, and the cultures of travel. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Phillips, R. (1997). Mapping Men and Empire: A geography of adventure. London & New York: Routledge.
Razack, S. H. (2015). Dying from Improvement: Inquests and Inquiries into Indigenous Deaths in Custody. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: University of Toronto Press.
Part 3: German Constructions of Landscapes, Nation, and Others
Selections from the fiction of Karl May.
Bassin, M. (2005). Blood or Soil?: The volkisch movement, the Nazis, and the legacy of Geopolitik. In F. Brüggemeier, M. Cioc & T. Zeller (Eds.), How Green Were the Nazis? Nature, Environment, and Nation in the Third Reich (pp. 204–242). Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.
Williams, J. A. (2007). Turning to Nature in Germany: Hiking, Nudism, and Conservation, 1900–1940. Standford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Part 4: Contemporary Constructions Home and Abroad: Global Citizenship, Volunteer Abroad, and Change Agents
Angod, L., and Gaztambide-Fernández, R. (2019). Endless land, endless opportunity: The coloniality of elite boarding school landscapes in Germany, the United States, and Canada [in press]. Eds. A. Gibson & W. Helsper [Special issue: Internatsschulen in empirischer und historischer Perspektive]. Zeitschrift für Pädagogik.
Charania, G. (2011). Grounding the global: A call for more situated practices of pedagogical and political engagement. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 10(3), 351-371. Retrieved from https://www.acme-journal.org/index.php/acme/article/view/902
Boros, A. (2016). Fuck White Tears [documentary]. Germany. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbI0IGZwMCc