Universität KonstanzExzellenzcluster: Kulturelle Grundlagen von Integration

War and Integration

German-Americans and the Wars of the USA of 1861-1865, 1898 and 1917-1918

PD Dr. Stefan Zahlmann


The concept of the project is to correlate wars as situations of integration and associations as spaces of integration. On the basis of German-American association cultures during the American Civil War, the Spanish-American War and the First World War, I want to elaborate in which form German Americans understood their social integration as a factor of political power.

The basic thesis of the project is that integration processes, even when they were wished by the protagonists, not always inevitably took a linear course and could be „successfully“ ended. Instead, based on their culturally generated self-image and the perception of others, they had to be renegotiated again and again and thus were always open in their outcome. At the same time historical changes in society‘s perception of both „instances of integration“, war and association culture, can be worked out by regarding the three wars and their effect on the German-American public. The reflexively captured significance of integration of migrants for a wartime immigrant society refers to the real political power of culteral methods of indentity construction.