Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Biopolitics, Fascism, Democracy: Some Reflections on Our Discourse About “Modernity”

  • Edward Ross Dickinson (a1)

In recent years the outlines of a new master narrative of modern German history have begun to emerge in a wide range of publications. This narrative draws heavily on the theoretical and historical works of Michel Foucault and Detlev J. K. Peukert, and on the earlier work of the Frankfurt School, Max Weber, and the French theorists of postmodernism. In it, rationalization and science, and specifically the extended discursive field of “biopolitics” (the whole complex of disciplines and practices addressing issues of health, reproduction, and welfare) play a key role as the marker and most important content of modernization. Increasingly, this model has a function in German historiography similar to that long virtually monopolized by the “Sonderweg thesis”: it serves as a broad theoretical or interpretive framework that can guide the construction of meaning in “smaller” studies, which are legitimated by their function in confirming or countering this broader argument.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Frank Dikötter , “Race Culture: Recent Perspectives on the History of Eugenics,” American Historical Review 103 (1998).

Geoff Eley and David Blackbourn , The Peculiarities of German History (Oxford, 1984).

Cornelie Usborne , The Politics of the Body in Weimar Germany: Women's Reproductive Rights and Duties (Basingstoke, 1992)

Thomas Rohkrämer , “Antimodernism, Reactionary Modernity, and National Socialism: Technocratic Tendencies in Germany, 1890–1945,” Contemporary European History 8 (1999): 50.

Peter Weingart , “The Rationalization of Sexual Behavior: The Institutionalization of Eugenic Thought in Germany,” Journal of the History of Biology 20 (1987)

“The Race Hygiene Movement in Germany, 1904–1945,” in The Wellborn Science: Eugenics in Germany, France, Britain and Russia, ed. Mark B. Adams (New York, 1990).

Sigrid Stöckel , Säuglingsfürsorge zwischen sozialer Hygiene und Eugenik (Berlin, 1996)

Ann Taylor Allen , “German Radical Feminism and Eugenics, 1900–1908,” German Studies Review 11 (1988)

Edward Ross Dickinson , “Reflections on Feminism and Monism in the Kaiserreich, 1900–1913,” Central European History 34 (2001).

Paul Betts , “The New Fascination with Fascism: The Case of Nazi Modernism,” Journal of Contemporary History 37 (2002): 541.

Alastair P. Thompson , Left Liberals, the State, and Popular Politics in Wilhelmine Germany (Oxford, 2000)

Jan Palmowski , Urban Liberalism in Imperial Germany: Frankfurt am Main, 1866–1914 (Oxford, 1999).

Marcus Gräser , Der blockierte Wohlfahrtsstaat (Göttingen, 1995)

Siegfried Weichlein , Sozialmilieus und politische Kultur in der Weimarer Republik (Göttingen, 1996)

Tom Buchanan and Martin Conway , “The Politics of Democracy in Twentieth-Century Europe: Introduction,” European History Quarterly 32 (2002): 8, 9.

David Crew , Germans on Welfare: From Weimar to Hitler (New York, 1998)

Greg Eghigian , Making Security Social: Disability, Insurance, and the Birth of the Social Entitlement State in Germany (Ann Arbor, 2000).

Diane Paul , “Eugenics and the Left,” Journal of the History of Ideas 45 (1984)

Michael Freeden , “Eugenics and Progressive Thought: A Study in Ideological Affinity,” Historical Journal 22 (1979).

Charles Taylor , “Modern Social Imaginaries,” Public Culture 14 (2002): esp. 92, 99, 103.

Edward Ross Dickinson , “The Men's Christian Morality Movement in Germany, 1880–1914: Some Reflections on Sex, Politics, and Sexual Politics,” Journal of Modern History 75 (2003).

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Central European History
  • ISSN: 0008-9389
  • EISSN: 1569-1616
  • URL: /core/journals/central-european-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 132 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 554 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.