Reflecting on German Heritage in the United States in the Twenty-First Century: A Panel Discussion with German Scholars

May 15, 2021  | 2pm - 4pm ET

Panel Discussion (Virtual) | Speakers: Sarah Panter (Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz) and Sebastian Bondzio (GHI Washington/Roy Rosenzweig Center for New Media and History), Moderator: Jana Keck (GHI Washington)

Co-organized by the German Society of Pennsylvania and GHI Washington

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In 2015, The Economist published an article titled “German-Americans: The Silent Minority,” which argues that America’s largest single-ethnic group “has assimilated so well that people barely notice it.” The German Society of Pennsylvania can be seen as a prime example of re-establishing the German-American presence in Pennsylvania and beyond, and, thus, functions as a counterargument to the Economist’s claim. The Horner Memorial Library’s role as a globally-recognized center of research, the Society’s diverse language programs, as well as its popular social events like Bierfest have made it possible to offer cultural, social, and educational experiences to a variety of audiences, whether they are recent immigrants, longstanding inhabitants of the area, or anybody interested in the German language and culture.

But how is this transatlantic heritage visible in Germany today? This panel will bring together two up-and-coming scholars from Germany working on the history of German migration to the United States. The two speakers will provide insights into their current research projects – from revising the myth of the “Forty-Eighters” to “historical big data” analysis of the Castle Garden immigrant lists – as well as reflect on contemporary perceptions in Germany of its historical connections to the United States through migration.

The program will begin with short presentations delivered by the scholars and conclude with an interactive discussion session, focused on the question of the cultural memory of German immigration to the United States. The panel will be moderated by Jana Keck, Digital Research Fellow at the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C. and a member of the German Society’s Library Committee. Join us for this exciting, transatlantic conversation!