Doctoral Candidate/Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel)
Research Stay: 23 September to 24 October 2005
The role of the »Männerbünde« (male fraternity) in the construction of nationalism in fin-de-siècle Germany
This work is part of a project exploring the role of friendship as a political and cultural sentiment in the formulation of modern national identity. Although various influential accounts of nationalism in modernity alluded to the transformation of face-to-face interactions into »imaginary« ties of national solidarity, there is limited discussion of how sentiments of friendship underlie this process. Rather than considering fraternity as a historical survival of traditional European societies it should be understood as a growing political impetus underlying the national revolutions. Informed by the analytic distinction between the »contractual-civic« model for national identity, and the »cultural-ethnic« model, I wish to examine the extent that each model provides a conceptual framing of national identity as a horizontal bond perceived as friendship. These theoretical questions will be addressed in the historical and socio-political context of German culture between mid-nineteenth century and 1933, focusing on male social clubs, secret societies and the development of the ideology of the männerbünd. I would also like to examine the influences and interrelations between German nationalism and Zionist thought in shaping the hegemonic ideology of male fraternity.