Mittwoch, 31. Januar 2018, 18:30 - 20:00 iCal

Geschichte am Mittwoch

Richard McMahon (Portsmouth): Transnational Nationalism: Political Identity Narratives in Race Anthropology, 1840s–1940s

Hörsaal 45
Universitätsring 1, 1010 Wien


In recent decades, historians have challenged the historiographical habit of separate national histories from a transnational perspective. This paper uses the identity narratives created by biological race classifiers of Europeans in the 1830s–1940s to argue that elements of nationalism itself were also transnational. Scientific race anthropologists associated nations with particular biological types and often attributed favourable characteristics to the ‘national race’ associated with their own nation. They tried to give it a glorious history for example or positive psychological attributes. These representations had to fit however within the often quite enduring consensus about racial histories and mentalities that the transnational scientific community achieved as a whole. The article argues that race mentality narratives were therefore partly dictated by their place within a dynamic interlocking European system. I focus on two key interacting elements that structured this system: the central role of the Germanic-Nordic blond and the geographically uneven process of modernisation. I consider the spatiality of socio-cultural and political factors ‘external’ to the stereotype system, such as geopolitics and modernisation, but also emphasise that discursive relationships between national stereotypes helped structure the European stereotype system. I conclude that scientific and transnational systemic factors require greater consideration in research on national identity.


Zum Vortragenden:

Dr. Richard McMahon lectures in European Studies at Portsmouth University and has taught at several other UK, Irish and German universities. Before his PhD (European University Institute, Florence), he was a Brussels-based journalist of EU affairs. He researches how communities of 1830s–1940s anthropological race classifiers and today’s EU studies scholars narrate national and European identities.


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Institut für Geschichte


Mag. Dr. Martina FUCHS
Institut für Geschichte
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