21st Annual Symposium of the Friends of the GHI
Nov 09, 2012
Award of the Fritz Stern Prize at the GHI | Prize Winners: Adam Rosenbaum (Colorado Mesa University) and Sarah Thomsen Vierra (New England College)
- Adam Rosenbaum (Colorado Mesa University): Timeless, Modern, and German? The Re-Mapping of Bavaria through the Marketing of Tourism, 1800-1939 (Ph.D. dissertation, Emory University, 2011)
- Sarah Thomsen Vierra (New England College): At Home in Almanya? Turkish-German Spaces of Belonging in West Germany, 1961-1990 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2011)
The twenty-first Annual Symposium of the Friends of the GHI featured the award of the 2012 Fritz Stern Dissertation Prizes to Adam Rosenbaum (Colorado Mesa University) for his dissertation "Timeless, Modern, and German? The Re-Mapping of Bavaria through the Marketing of Tourism, 1800-1939" (Ph.D., Emory University, 2011) and to Sarah Thomsen Vierra (New England College) for her dissertation "At Home in Almanya? Turkish-German Spaces of Belonging in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1961-1990" (Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2011). The prize selection committee was composed of Ann Goldberg (University of California, Riverside), Maria D. Mitchell (Franklin & Marshall College), and Ulrike Strasser (University of California, Irvine). After introductory remarks by Hartmut Berghoff, director of the GHI, the award ceremony was chaired by David Blackbourn (Vanderbilt University), President of the Friends of the GHI. After the presentation of the awards, the two Stern Prize winners gave lectures about their dissertation research.
Adam Rosenbaum offered a broad overview of his dissertation, which examines the connections between Bavarian tourism and the turbulent experience of modernity during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. After briefly considering Bavaria's contemporary status as both a bona fide tourist destination and an international symbol of German identity, Rosenbaum elaborated on his central argument: that between 1800 and 1939, the Bavarian tourism industry consistently promoted an image of "grounded modernity," a romanticized version of the present that reconciled tradition with progress, continuity with change, and nature with technology and science. This alternative vision, he argued, provided travelers with a taste of stability and a glimpse of authenticity, and helped to make the experience of modernity more tangible by linking impersonal and abstract ideas, such as national identity, with familiar experiences and concrete sights. Excursions to rural destinations like "Franconian Switzerland" and vacations in health resorts like Bad Reichenhall provided visitors with an antidote to their hectic, dirty, and stressful urban existence. Conversely, trips to cities such as Augsburg, Munich, and Nuremberg allowed Germans to reacquaint themselves with the historical roots of the fatherland, in addition to providing a new perspective on the modern nation-state, defined by industrial progress and political triumph. Tourism, he concluded, was always in the shadow of the present, even when it was seemingly fixated on the natural environment and the past.
Sarah Thomsen Vierra explained that her dissertation combines a spatial approach with German- and Turkish-language sources to examine how members of the Turkish-German community actively made themselves "at home" in German society by constructing spaces of belonging within and alongside of it. Vierra charted the development of these spaces within the everyday landscapes of Turkish immigrants and their children, arguing that the personal relationships and community dynamics in these spaces played a fundamental role in Turkish integration. By examining their spatial practices, Vierra demonstrated how the first and second generations worked around established power structures to create and recreate spaces in order to address their own wants and needs. While some of these spaces facilitated closer connection to German society, others encouraged or enforced a separate Turkish identity. Over time, Vierra noted, the reciprocal nature of integration led to a hybridization not only of the immigrant community but also of German society itself, in which its diverse members created wholly new spaces of interactions.
The presentations were followed by a commentary by Fritz Stern and a lively discussion with the audience. Articles based on the two dissertations will be published in the Spring 2013 issue of the GHI Bulletin.
Selection Committee: Ann Goldberg (University of California, Riverside), Maria D. Mitchell (Franklin & Marshall College), and Ulrike Strasser (University of California, Irvine)
Adam T. Rosenbaum, "Timeless, Modern, and German? The Re-Mapping of Bavaria through the Marketing of Tourism, 1800-1939" (Ph.D. dissertation, Emory University, 2011)
Prize citation: "Timeless, Modern" is at once an expert case study of the Bavarian tourism industry and a highly accomplished exploration of the larger question of German modernity in the 19th and 20th centuries. Using an array of contemporary sources -- tourist guidebooks, brochures, maps, and postcards, as well as the records of tourism associations, contemporary newspapers, and travel reports --, this rich dissertation probes the language and imagery of the Bavarian tourism industry and the making of tourist sites, from the 19th-century spa to the cities of Augsburg and Nuremberg under the Third Reich. Rosenbaum argues persuasively that the tourist industry marketed images of Bavaria and Germany that merged both tradition and progress; the escape from and embrace of modernity; Romantic celebrations of nature and the premodern past, on the one hand, and technology, city planning, and mass culture, on the other. Rosenbaum introduces the term "grounded modernity" to characterize this synthesis of old and new. Written with elegance and clarity, his dissertation demonstrates the shifting contours of "grounded modernity" over three regimes, weaving together with sophistication the strands of both continuity and change in German culture and society. The notion of "grounded modernity" offers as well an important contribution to understandings of German modernity, one that transcends and complicates older historiographical binaries of modernity versus antimodernism. Likewise, Rosenbaum's innovative work casts new light on the history of German nationalism, showing the ways in which cosmopolitanism, nation, and regionalism coexisted and were transformed over time.
Sarah Thomsen Vierra, "At Home in Almanya? Turkish-German Spaces of Belonging in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1961-1990" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2011)
Prize citation: This beautifully written and thoughtfully conceptualized dissertation explores the place of Turkish immigrants and their children in West German history. Deploying a variety of methodological and theoretical approaches, Vierra weaves together transnational, national, and local histories of Turkish-Germans since the arrival of the first West German Gastarbeiter to create a rich tapestry of the experiences of Turkish-Germans and their host society. The author's conceptual focus rests on "spaces of belonging" -- from the workplace to the classroom, neighborhood, school, and mosque. This spatial approach allows Vierra to highlight the contradictions and ambiguities of the everyday lived experiences of marginalized communities, while her reliance on a rich array of archival and oral sources in German and Turkish enables her to recount how those spaces were constructed and contested in West Germany over time. Turkish-Germans have charted paths far more complex than many contemporary models of West German immigrant integration and assimilation suggest. In its compelling portrayal of a community defined by its diversity, this innovative work challenges commonplace notions of Turkish-German identity while informing us about majority-minority relations, national identities, and immigrant communities in contemporary Germany and Europe more broadly.