It is also apparent that the word has become a prolific generator of associations, [24 ] stimulating a wide array of disciplines in equal measure. In medicine and psychology, anthropology and sociology, in political science, philosophy, literary studies and historiography to name but a few, investigations on the concept of Heimat have generated an almost impenetrable tangle of observations, definitions and theories — not to mention its political instrumentalization.
A number of key political-ideological concepts of Heimat will be discussed here in the section on historical research. The many deliberations on the German term cannot be discussed exhaustively in this context. Instead, the phenomenon of Heimat will be investigated with a focus on the humanities and contemporary history with regard to two particular aspects. First is the question of the phenomenon itself.
In this case Heimat stands for a transcendental value and reference point, which the individual nevertheless always links to a certain community. This is how philosophy has approached the word Heimat.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, for example, located Heimat in the realm of the spirit. It is obvious that the phenomenon itself, homeland, is hardly limited to the German-speaking world, and yet the German word Heimat has its own specific meanings and has been the subject of continual discussion for more than two centuries. The phenomenon has been addressed both explicitly and implicitly by philosophy and the social sciences as well as by anthropology and ethnology, whereas literary studies [29 ] and especially historiography are interested in its temporal, spatial and culture-specific manifestations.
This brings us to the second aspect, its denoting the specific manifestations of this concept of identity. These do not always fall under the label of Heimat, but sometimes concern the development of regional or local identities and forms of nation-building.
They are found in transnational and global-history , including works on migrant groups and their relationship to receiving societies as well as on minorities in nation-states. Historical investigations explicitly concerned with Heimat or the lack thereof — the experience of exile and forced migration [30 ] naturally restrict themselves to the German-speaking world, namely: Apart from reflections of a philosophical or sociological nature, these studies have heavily relied on various widely accepted anthropological and ethnological lines of thought.
Before taking a closer look at these anthropological and ethnological approaches, we should orient ourselves in the maze of theory. The term Heimat has been used throughout the German-speaking world in literature, medicine and philosophy ever since the eighteenth century, though seldom has the actual phenomenon been explored in much detail. Added to this were geographical considerations, which likewise claimed that basic local living conditions had a formative influence on the character of the people living there. All of these ideas were unfolding in the face of socio-economic transformation and emerging concepts of nation that conceived of state order not as a pure political construct but as an organization that belonged together naturally, as it were.
These kinds of debates were not limited to the German-speaking world but were found across Europe if not beyond.
German sociology of the s and s in particular was responding to the social problem of massive forced migrations caused by Nazism and its aftermath. In sociology, too, Heimat has been understood as a web of relationships in a specific space that is experienced subjectively. This bond is all the stronger, the longer a person resides there, and finds expression in symbolic identification, a part being representative of the whole pars pro toto.
References to values, traditions and communal experience remain important points of reference for a sociological approach to the concept. As in anthropology, however, the concept is neither restricted to the German-speaking world nor to a static frame of reference. Anthropological approaches are the most importance point of reference in the historiographical debate on Heimat.
The works of Hermann Bausinger and Ina-Maria Greverus have acted as an important stimulus for historians and cultural historians in recent decades. One of the most frequently quoted is this one: This is what allows the concept of Heimat to be harnessed for political and ideological purposes. Greverus conducted a detailed investigation of territoriality using the example of Heimat in the German-speaking world. And she emphasized time and again that, although the word Heimat is indeed peculiar to the German-speaking world, the principles of territoriality and space of satisfaction are anthropological constants founds in every form of human society.
Hence the term Heimat, according to Greverus, is both a technical term homeland describing a particular phenomenon territoriality independent of language as well as a specifically German term Heimat found in everyday and elevated speech whose content is historically conditioned and which has certain, culturally determined connotations.
The spatial parameters and emotional charge of Heimat evident since the nineteenth century are proof of its cultural determination. They indicate that the debate about Heimat is a reaction to actual or supposed processes of modernization , to the planning and formation of nation-states with all of their attendant social changes, as well as to increased mobility.
Philosophical and theological considerations which endeavor to give the term a transcendental slant are evidence of the same tendency. It is these debates about Heimat that make the phenomenon relevant to historians. An overview of historical research on the topic of Heimat reveals several other areas of focus: The term Heimat is nothing new to historians. The systematic documentation of local customs, traditions, poetry and culture starting in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was done from a historical point of view.
Heimat likewise cropped up in German academic historiography in discussions about local identities. It was only relatively late, however that the phenomenon of Heimat became an independent topic of historical research. In both cases the concept was interpreted as trying to integrate the respective region into the newly founded German state of by redirecting feelings of regional loyalty towards the German nation. This of course implied either awakening these feelings in the first place or strengthening and channeling them in the right direction. The advocates of this movement, according to Applegate and Confino, were liberal to liberal-conservative middle-class circles and local notables.
Both investigations concern themselves with the conceptual history as well as the political and ideological instrumentalization of Heimat. Behind the specific idea of a Heimat-related identity, writes Confino, lurked something entirely different, however, namely invention, myth , nostalgia and sentimentality. Confino embeds his deliberations in the literature on collective memories following Maurice Halbwachs. Accordingly, the idea of the German nation was to be understood as a process of collective negotiating as well as the exchange of memories, whether in the form of the written word, images or cultural practices.
A conspicuous development in the German Empire was that a range of institutions committed to cultivating the ideals of Heimat were increasingly drawn to conservative, nationalist, chauvinist and racist ideas. Both aimed at the preservation and protection of the locally specific that was nonetheless considered German — in the arts, culture or nature. Fundamentally critical of or even hostile towards modernity and industrial society, they saw the rootedness of people in a landscape as an antidote: This manifestation of the Heimat discourse and its linkage to increasingly radicalized nationalist movements that pinned their hopes on an ethnically and culturally homogeneous population has been adequately explored by historians such as Hans-Ulrich Wehler in his concise and exemplary study of the Deutscher Ostmarkverein German Eastern Marches Society.
And yet only part of the Heimat movement or Heimat discourse has been focused on in the process, the one supplying nationalist or chauvinist movements with locally based arguments. The Heimat movement of the Weimar Republic has also been viewed in this manner. Its influence was largely thanks to the subject of Heimatkunde local history being anchored in school curricula and hence a part of civic education, albeit in a more innocuous form.
A key representative of the conservative Heimat movement, the educator Eduard Spranger, emphasized that Heimat was something that had to be acquired: A given birthplace only becomes a homeland once you have lived your way into it. This is why it is possible to create a homeland for yourself far away from the place you were born. The value of Heimat and region was elevated accordingly, since these were thought to contain important elements of a shared national or popular culture peculiar to an imagined community.
Leading figures in the heritage societies and homeland associations may have curried favor with the regime and been confirmed Nazis, but they always retained a certain scope of maneuver, which after could be interpreted as a sign of having kept away from politics and ideology. Moreover, there was no uniform strategy on the part of the Nazi Party of how to deal with these mostly bourgeois societies and associations. Added to this was the competition between different organizations, typical of the Nazi period.
This situation gave the Heimat movement a certain latitude, since the Nazi umbrella organizations were not always able to penetrate the existing groups and bring them into line ideologically. Separate initiatives also developed in individual administrative districts, or Gauen. In Saxony, for example, Gauleiter Martin Mutschmann founded the Heimatwerk Sachsen Homeland Organization of Saxony in which aimed to centralize all regional cultural efforts.
With the collapse of Nazi Germany in , the Heimat movements were remarkably quick to localize their structures once again. The s and s have received the most attention from scholars in more recent contemporary history. About 12 to 14 million ethnic Germans were forced to leave their places of residence and start a new life elsewhere. Locals had to deal with new-arrivals, and everyone had to come to terms with the changes in their living environment. Thus, Heimat figured prominently in postwar social discourses. The so-called Heimatvertriebene, ethnic Germans expelled from their former homeland, sought a place in their respective postwar societies in Germany East and West, some of them hoping to one day return to territories lost in the war.
The established population was faced with the task of dealing with a new situation and possibly reinventing their own identity. Alongside existing and newly formed local cultural organizations came the ones established by migrants after the end of the war. While the BHE attracted the attention of scholars early on, expellee societies and associations or institutions taking up their cause at the regional and local level were only addressed much later.
Though the narrative of the rapid and successful integration of refugees and expellees fostered by the politics of the s and s has recently been the subject of scrutiny, [70 ] two things have yet to be explored in detail: How both migrants and locals coped with this situation still needs to be investigated in more detail. The wealth of sociological research [74 ] dedicated to the topics of homeland, foreignness, refugees and expellees from a theoretical as well as an empirical perspective [75 ] would be a useful resource for future historians in this field.
The government in East Berlin initially rejected the concept of Heimat as the haven of an ineradicable and romanticizing petty bourgeoisie. Instead, a socialist concept of Heimat was invented, underscoring the role of the individual in the collective and his responsibility to the world around him. Heimat was now no longer the preserve of the bourgeoisie but belonged to the workers , who shaped their environment collectively according to the principles of socialism, thus ensuring the rootedness of these principles.
The focus of local identity-building was to be the overall socialist state [79 ] and the notion of internationalism.
It was also necessary to overcome bourgeois-capitalist property relations, since these were thought to ultimately lead to an instrumentalization of Heimat. All of this was thought to contrast the approach to Heimat in the Federal Republic. Founded in , it only had a limited say, however, in the agenda of its affiliated associations and hence had little influence on their practical work and activities. Thus, a varied network of regional and local cultural associations developed alongside organizations that were more or less free to pursue their activities, depending on political directives from Berlin and provided they did not engage in direct opposition to the regime.
The hugely successful West German Heimatfilm of the s and s has been given special attention in cultural-historical research. More recent investigations offer a somewhat more nuanced picture. The Heimatfilm addressed fundamental social issues in its own specific way, whether modernization, displacement and migration or the urban-rural divide. It used the imagery of familiar Heimat iconography to convey impressions of a stable order that appealed to aesthetic sensibilities and was capable of holding its own in the modern era.
Though the notion of Heimat used here clearly recalls the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and hence carries conservative connotations, the Heimat of the Heimatfilm was not divorced from current events, but integrated despite its conservative bent elements of modernity, mobility and technology in the spirit of reconciliation as understood back then.
And yet there is no denying that the discovery of local surroundings, landscapes, architecture and nature in their specific meaning to individuals is an important step towards establishing a local identity. Confino emphasizes that the images used were interchangeable in terms of their form, aesthetic and motifs, and could hence be regarded as universal signs and symbols representing the notion of Heimat. This can be viewed as an outgrowth of the Heimatkunst movement that emerged in late Imperial Germany.
Regarded by art historians as conservative and traditional and scarcely acknowledged by conventional historians, being mentioned in passing at best, the movement was in fact considerably more complex, as Jennifer Jenkins points out. The literature shows that the s inaugurated a new phase in the history of Heimat. The anti-nuclear-power movement, discussions of identity in the s, the debate on globalization [93 ] as well as German unification all relied at some point or another on the concepts of Heimat and regionalism or local identity politics, regardless of whether this happened in a rural or urban setting.
Historians of the nature conservation and environmental movements have traced these back to the Heimat movement of the German Empire and discovered numerous continuities. One specialized field of recent historical research is colonial history. Prompted partly by the cultural turn and partly by post-colonial studies, this new field of scholarship has reexamined the question of the self-understanding of colonizers.
Migration history and global history have also acted as catalysts more generally.
Johns College , Doctor of Philosophy. But its capacity to act in this way has not been legitimated and remains subject to contest in Germany. Show More Contact Us. As mentioned above, a leftist discussion of Heimat has existed since the nineteenth century. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles every month. Please try again later. Confino, Alon, The nation as a local metaphor:
During the German Empire, colonizers and colonial societies endeavored to integrate the colonies into a national narrative. This was done with the help of the contemporary discourse on Heimat. The same applied to colonial enthusiasts after , who imagined a better Germany, as it were, in the former German colonies. Investigations into the phenomenon of Heimat seldom extend beyond German borders. Even Austria and Switzerland are given short shrift, whereas transnational approaches are lacking entirely with the exception of colonial history.
The visual history of Heimat has likewise received scant attention from scholars. A divergent leftist or liberal concept of Heimat and a focus on gender-specific issues are marginal features in the historical literature. The German notion of Heimat is perceived as a uniquely German phenomenon, distinctly different from other concepts of homeland throughout the world.
With the exception of nature conservation and environmental protection, [98 ] there are no comparisons to analogous movements in other cultures. Thus, the literature on the German-speaking world sticks to the German concept of Heimat and only concerns itself with the broader phenomenon when linked to a discourse on homeland.
This explains why organizations that prominently feature the word Heimat in their names or agendas are being given particular attention. There is general agreement that conservative-chauvinist and racist parts of the Heimat movement should not be underestimated. To date, there has neither been an investigation of these writings and institutions with respect to their actual political leanings and hence the range of this discourse, nor have there been sufficient studies on the Heimat discourse of the s and s.
There is also a dearth of studies on the history of everyday life focusing on the urban, local and regional forms of liberal Heimat movements and their impact, previous research having centered on the antimodern and chauvinist varieties. In this respect, from an overseas perspective the entire nation-state is Heimat. These distinctions need to be given more attention. Diverse ties to Heimat are important even within a given region. What role did it play for a subnational, political or administrative body such as a federal state in the German Empire?
Was there any resistance to it? What happens when a local Heimat discourse does not address its integration in the nation or federal state, rejects cooptation, and tries to evade political instrumentalization? These aspects need to be analyzed more fully. On the one hand, we need to look beyond the German word Heimat and inquire into the larger phenomenon of homeland as an anthropological concept.
On the other, the Heimat discourse needs to be differentiated with regard to its deviations from the norm. As mentioned above, a leftist discussion of Heimat has existed since the nineteenth century. Its points of reference need to be examined as well, such as the relationship between Heimat and region independent of any state borders running through them.
The relationship between locality and globality also needs to be explored more intensely. Do they need the fiction of an unchangeable folk culture and the timeless character traits of a local population, formed by nature and landscape? The specific manifestation of the dominant Heimat discourse — for example, from the late German Empire to the Nazi period — looks different when taking into account liberal and leftist Heimat discourses. The later Nobel Peace Prize winner Alfred Hermann Fried, for example, wrote in a essay on patriotism that a sense of Heimat could help counteract excessive nationalism.
Ubi bene ibi patria — where life is good, i. Another aspect worth investigating is a gender-history perspective. How dear the word is, precisely to the female sex!
It is important, furthermore, to link the Heimat discourse to globalization and relativize the nation as its privileged framework. The question is whether a specific emotional charge and an overemphasis on landscape are the distinguishing features of German Heimat as opposed to other local processes of identity-formation or whether there are other criteria at work.
Heimat as an urban phenomenon has been the focus of recent discussion. Furthermore, local processes of identity-building in general are unimaginable without an emotional component and specific aesthetic references to space. The emotional appeal of having a homeland hardly appears to be the prerogative of the German-speaking world, as Rolf Petri pointed out in References to modernization processes, similarities to the development of nation-states, the refurbishment of local spaces and the back-to-nature movement all make abundantly clear that the concept of a homeland is by no means something specially German inherent to the concept of Heimat.
Locality, writes Angelika Epple, is a promising concept, because ultimately globalization is always embedded locally. Unlike locality and regionality, Heimat could be understood here as a modern concept linking humans to their living environment and the world. The same applies to the relationship between homeland and nation. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Technologies de l'information et de la communication This world is not rosy and we are all aware of it. Our life is made of "contrast" between what we call "good" and "bad", "negative" and "positive", what we like and what we do not like.
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