After the Revolution: Nationalism and the Public Sphere in Germany, 1848-1888
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Has principal investigator Mark Hewitson
Status Closed
Identifier AH/G005478/1
abstract \nThe project examines the relationship between newly forming political milieux and party doctrines , on the one hand, and rapidly changing conceptions of and policies towards the nation-state in Germany, on the other. The years between 1848 and the 1880s witnessed the emergence of political parties, the expansion of a national public sphere, and the formation - in 1848-49 and again in 1867-71 - of a single German state. Unlike most investigations of nineteenth-century nationalism, which have tended to concentrate on nationalist organisations or, more recently, nationalist thought or symbolism in isolation and have concentrated on self-proclaimed 'nationalists', this volume looks at all parties' attitudes to the nation and treats competing national platforms as a form of politics, both domestic and foreign. \n\nThe study shows how newly formed political elites were forced during the revolution of 1848-49 hastily to design both a new polity and a German nation-state. This need to design a state - and to escape the restrictive policies of one's own state - made the national question in Germany a highly political one after 1848. Liberals, who initially dominated many 'March Ministries', state assemblies, the Frankfurt Parliament and the emergent public sphere, largely set the terms of the intertwined constitutional and national questions. The overlap between the two questions consisted of a fundamental questioning of the state's legitimacy in light of the new requirement that rulers and ruled should be similar in some way, on the delineation of borders according to national criteria and legal treaties, and on a definition of citizenship - asking who was a citizen and who was not - as a corollary of unprecedented levels of political participation and novel forms of constitutional codification. \n\nLiberals' answers to an unexpected 'national question' in 1848, which remained closely tied to their political and constitutional deliberations, were widely accepted by other political groupings and only half-heartedly contested by the governments of the individual states, even during the period of 'reaction' during the 1850s. A national polity, it had been agreed in 1848-49, had to be constitutional, representative, monarchical and federal. The persistence of these political conditions tended to confirm in subsequent decades the impression which had been created during the revolution, against expectations, that Austria would play only a marginal role in German unification, except as an obstacle, since it supported a loose confederation, imposing the restoration of the old Bund in 1850, and it remained sceptical of constitutionalism, parliaments, and limited monarchy. Successive Prussian governments, although criticised by some sections of public opinion in the 'third Germany' and opposed by states such as Bavaria, Saxony and Württemberg, were warier of renouncing the political legacy of 1848. What was more, Prussia also lay within the national borders defined during the revolution and conformed to the principle of nationality, containing a large and dominant German-speaking majority. Austria met neither of these criteria, marginalising it in public debates about unification during the 1850s and 1860s. \n\nSuch public debates were led by moderate liberals, or 'constitutionalists', who were allowed more freedom to discuss national than political affairs during the era of reaction. The continued existence of a national public sphere allowed the dissemination and discussion of the national question in terms similar to those set in 1848-49. The attempts of state governments to foster local patriotism and to reform the Bund did little to replace or undermine liberal-dominated debates about a German nation-state. These debates remained influential, limiting the options available to statesmen, in the late 1860s, 1870s and 1880s.\n
Type Project
Label After the Revolution: Nationalism and the Public Sphere in Germany, 1848-1888
Title After the Revolution: Nationalism and the Public Sphere in Germany, 1848-1888

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