114.2 The German-American hyphen: Leading culture, parallel society and multiculturalism in 19th century America

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 12:45 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Y. Michal BODEMANN , Sociology, University of Toronto, Berlin, Germany
Nadine BLUMER , Sociology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
The German-American Hyphen: Leading Culture, Parallel Society and Multiculturalism in 19th Century America

It might come as a surprise that with today’s mainstream discourse condemning “parallel societies” of immigrant groups in Germany, the German immigrants to the US in the 19th century were themselves an example of a relatively closed group. German immigrants of that time period promoted a distinctive form of German "Kultur" and sociability, political clubs, separate German schools and holidays, and a flood of German language papers, beer and food.  The receiving society was not especially accepting of this as German habitus and culture did not correspond to the Anglo-Saxon “Leitkultur.” Around WWI, this culminated in a veritable oppression of all things German, culturally as well as politically, all the way to lynchings and book burnings. One or two decades later, in part because of anti-German policies, in part because of the assimilation among the later generations, the German ethnos, now without significant sustaining institutions, had practically disappeared from the surface of American life. This paper draws parallels to the current situation of Turks in Germany.