Current Research: Maiken Umbach, Professor of Modern History
Space and Homeland in Nazi Germany
Fascist dictatorships such as Germany between 1933 and 1945 are often described as “ultra-nationalist”, aiming at total political centralisation and the eradication of all differences between milieus, classes and regions in a single “Volksgemeinschaft” (folk community). My project challenges such views, by examining how local and regional identities were appropriated, re-defined and, in many cases, actually reinvigorated under Nazism. I am particularly interested in the invention of regional traditions, the role of regionalism in Nazi consumerism and leisure, the physical re-designing of the landscape, and in the link between so-called ‘tribal’ cultures in Germany and the Nazi project to colonise Eastern Europe.
Methodologically, my main interests are reading visual and material culture as a historical sources, and so-called “governmentality studies”, which I explored for a slightly earlier period in my recent book “German Cities and Bourgeois Modernism, 1890-1924”. My new work also has a broader comparative dimension: I am interested in fascism as a transnational phenomenon, and I am collaborating with a colleague in Spain, Xosé-Manoel Núñez, in writing a book entitled “Decentring Dictatorships: The Regional in Hitler’s Germany and Franco’s Spain”
Editors Note: This is an archived blog post from 17/11/2009