Reference : ‘Germania facile princeps’? – Das deutsche Bildungswesen und die Weltausstellungen de...
Scientific journals : Article
Arts & humanities : History
‘Germania facile princeps’? – Das deutsche Bildungswesen und die Weltausstellungen des 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhunderts
[en] 'Germania facile princeps'? - German education and world exhibitions during the nineteenth and early twentieth century
Dittrich, Klaus mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Languages, Culture, Media and Identities (LCMI) >]
Dogil yeongu - Korean Journal of German Studies
[de] Weltausstellungen ; Bildungspolitik ; Transnationale Geschichte ; Imperiale Konkurrenz ; Internationalismus ; Kulturtransfer
[en] This contribution discusses German education at world exhibitions during the second half of the nineteenth century. All great international exhibitions of that period comprised sections that were specifically dedicated to education where the participating nations presented their educational institutions, from kindergartens and primary schools to universities and science. In this way, world exhibitions brought together education experts from all over the world. They were one of the foremost vehicles for the transnational circulation of educational knowledge. This contribution analyses with which motivations German education experts frequented world exhibitions. It is argued that education experts frequented these exhibitions for three reasons. Firstly, they wanted to show the alleged superiority of German education. This took place in a context of competition between imperial societies, as the French historian Christophe Charle has suggested. The German educational exhibits of the mid-nineteenth century stressed the high standing of primary schools in the German states. At the turn of the century, the emphasis shifted to higher education when organisers staged German universities as the original and therefore superior incarnation of universities. Secondly, German education experts participated in world exhibitions in order to initiate projects of international cooperation. Their goal was to establish Germany as a central node in international academic networks and, in this way, to strengthen the position of German academia in the world. Madeleine Herren’s concept of governmental internationalism allows to adequately analyse this option. Thirdly, German education experts frequented world exhibitions in order to learn from abroad. Foreign knowledge that educators got in contact with at the exhibitions contributed to institutionalisation processes in Germany. The concept of cultural transfers provides the best tool to describe these appropriations. German education experts who used the exhibitions in this way usually made claims for a stronger emphasis on technical and practical elements in education. It is suggested that these three transnational practices of representation, cooperation and appropriation offer a general pattern to analyse the activities of expert actors when crossing the boundaries of their own nation during the phase of globalisation that was the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

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