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Sweeping the German Nation

Sweeping the German Nation
Domesticity and National Identity in Germany, 1870-1945

  • Date Published: December 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521744157

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  • Is cleanliness next to Germanness, as some nineteenth-century nationalists insisted? This book explores the relationship between gender roles, domesticity, and German national identity between 1870–1945. After German unification, approaches to household management that had originally emerged among the bourgeoisie became central to German national identity by 1914. Thrift, order, and extreme cleanliness, along with particular domestic markers (such as the linen cabinet) and holiday customs, were used by many Germans to define the distinctions between themselves and neighboring cultures. What was bourgeois at home became German abroad, as 'German domesticity' also helped to define and underwrite colonial identities in Southwest Africa and elsewhere. After 1933, this idealized notion of domestic Germanness was racialized and incorporated into an array of Nazi social politics. In occupied Eastern Europe during WWII Nazi women's groups used these approaches to household management in their attempts to 'Germanize' Eastern European women who were part of a large-scale project of population resettlement and ethnic cleansing.

    • Offers historical perspective on the politics of homemaking in Germany from the time of unification through the Third Reich
    • Shows how government policies about household responsibilities influenced the way women thought about their identity as Germans
    • Draws on primary sources including popular magazines, government publications, and notes from women's associations and clubs
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'In this absorbing and informative book, the author analyzes the development of an understanding of domesticity that linked alleged qualities of housework, a private activity, to Germanness, a pubic identity.' The Historian

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2008
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521744157
    • length: 262 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.36kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The habitus of domesticity
    2. Domesticity and German national character
    3. The politicization of housework
    4. Domesticity and Volksgemeinschaft
    5. Ersatz, whole grain, or homemade: Autarkic households and the four year plan
    6. Domesticity and 'Germanization' in occupied Poland.

  • Author

    Nancy R. Reagin, Pace University, New York
    Nancy R. Reagin is Professor of History and Director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program at Pace University, New York. She received her PhD from The Johns Hopkins University. She previously taught at the University of Texas, Austin. She is the author of A German Women's Movement: Class and Gender in Hanover, 1880–1933 (1995) and is co-editor of The Heimat Abroad: The Boundaries of Germanness (2005). She has been awarded fellowships by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Deutscher Akademischer Austasuchdienst.

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