Cosmopolitan highlanders: Region and nation in Anglo-German encounters in the Himalayas, 1903-1945
AffiliationUniversity of Derby
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AbstractStudies of national and regional identity have long been a staple of British and European historiography. In German historiography, the development of nationalism and national unification is well-charted territory, as is the importance of discourses of Heimat and Volk. The persistence of strong local and regional allegiances, particularly in the Southern German states, is equally well-known. A similar trajectory can be found in British historiography. While historians such as Linda Colley have explored the creation of a common British identity and a sense of Britishness during the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the emergence of particular notions of Englishness has attracted the attention of scholars such as Peter Mandler. All this relates to wider discussions concerning the role of the nation-state in modern history. In many ways, however, the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were also periods of globalization with an increase in international and intercontinental travel, as well as a significant degree of mobility of ideas and goods. While this perhaps never came as a surprise to historians of Britain, who have long dealt with Britain’s engagement with the rest of the world, historians of Germany have only begun to embrace this new global history more recently. The past two decades have witnessed an increasing proliferation of studies that seek to place German history in its global context. This has left us with a picture where globalization and the ‘rise’ of the nation-state existed in tandem – a picture that at first sight can often be paradoxical, but which has also endowed us a with a more nuanced understanding of the interplay between regional, national and transnational histories. This chapter will explore this interplay by examining British and German accounts of travel to Tibet and the Himalayas, showing that allegiances to both nation and region could co-exist quite easily, and could indeed be complemented by a sense of belonging to a common humanity across regional and national boundaries. The example of British and German travellers to Tibet and the Himalayas demonstrates that interwar Europeans could at once be fiercely nationalistic, proud of their local and regional heritage, and aware of what united them with travellers from other parts of Europe and, at times, the entire world. In fact, strong regional allegiances could serve, in some cases, to enhance a feeling of connectedness across national borders.
CitationNeuhaus, T. (2015) 'Cosmopolitan highlanders: Region and nation in Anglo-German encounters in the Himalayas, 1903-1945' in Rueger, Jan, Wachsmann, Nikolaus, 'Rewriting German History New Perspectives on Modern Germany', Palgrave Macmillan : UK