History | Colloq: Rise and Fall of Racial Empires in Germany & Japan, 1870-1955
H620 | 6322 | Roseman


A portion of the above section reserved for majors
Above section meets with WEUR-W 605

In the 1930s both Germany and Japan embarked on new periods of
aggressive imperial expansion. Both took great risks to secure
their ‘place in the sun’ in an increasingly atomized world of
imperial blocs and economic autarky. Armed with notions of racial
superiority, both adopted pacification and colonization policies of
unparalleled ferocity. Faced with an increasingly powerful coalition
of enemies, both sought to redefine their imperial purposes by
casting their missions as universal ones while simultaneously
clinging to self-perceptions understood in particularistic racial
and cultural terms.  Finally, both suffered annihilating defeat,
triggering reappraisals of their modern histories, institutional
adjustments and an end to the imperial game.

How should we understand these parallels? How distinctive were these
two empires in the broader history of modern imperialism, and how
consistent and deeply rooted were their imperial visions? How
coherent and appropriate is the notion of ‘racial empire’ as an
account of their respective visions and trajectories? Using a
mixture of  secondary and translated primary sources this graduate
colloquium (there is an option to take it as a graduate seminar)
will explore this fascinating example of comparative history.