Modules for History Lessons
Edited By Uta Fenske, Daniel Groth, Klaus-Michael Guse and Bärbel P. Kuhn
Images of Poland in Germany in the Late 18th and the 19th Centuries: Precondition of Colonial Power Relations?
Introduction to the Module
The starting point for the module is the awareness of Postcolonial Studies that colonialism has to be perceived not only as relations based on exploitation and power, but also on the knowledge systems shaping and representing these relationships. The example of Poland is used to examine whether this finding is also valid for the relations between Western and Eastern Europe. To test this, the module focuses on the analysis of two texts, in which the German image of Poland as an unorganized country is shown paradigmatically and, in one case (Source 2: Gustav Freytag), with an enormous impact.
Concretely, the module is about the depiction of stereotypical images of the Polish used in order to legitimize the partitions of and rule over the country. Taking this into account, it is the aim of the module to examine whether Germany’s relation to Poland can be compared to the relations of European powers to their overseas colonies, specifically whether 19th-century Poland could be classified as a European semi-periphery. This term describes a region which is considered to be part of the European centre and which defined/defines itself strongly in relatedness to this centre, but nonetheless can be conceptualized in strong dependence on a hegemonic (Western) Europe.
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