Colloquium: Being German in Guatemala, 1880s–1980s

  • Date: Nov 7, 2017
  • Time: 05:00 PM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: H. Glenn Penny
  • Location: Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Lentzeallee 94, 14195 Berlin
  • Room: Small Conference Room
  • Host: Center for the History of Emotions
  • Contact:

The Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, led by Prof. Ute Frevert, cordially invites all interested to attend its winter semester 2017/2018 colloquium

H. Glenn Penny, University of Iowa (currently a Fellow at WIKO Berlin)

Being German in Guatemala, 1880s–1980s

Guatemala boasted the largest community of Germans in Central America during the interwar period, and the largest number of Germans in Central America lives there today. That is not, however, a continuity. While much of Guatemala’s German community was intimately involved in the rise of that state’s coffee capitalism, and many Germans played critical roles in Guatemala’s finance and trade, World War II devastated that community. Many of its members were blacklisted, deported, and interned in the USA. They lost much or all of their property, and they were discouraged from returning. Despite that, many did return. This talk begins by asking why, and it looks to Germans’ emotional attachment to Guatemala for answers. In part, this talk will be about the “transnational habitus” of many migrant groups. But it will also be about inclusive versus exclusive forms of belonging, about race, Nazis, and the irritating way in which the characteristics assigned to Germans abroad toggles back and forth during the twentieth century from positive to negative—with little regard for what most of the individuals included in that category thought or did. Ultimately, however, much of the argument will focus on affection, affinities, and senses of place.

H. Glenn Penny is Professor of Modern European History at the University of Iowa. His publications include Objects of Culture: Ethnology and Ethnographic Museums in Imperial Germany (UNC, 2002), Kindred by Choice: Germans and American Indians since 1880 (UNC, 2013), and (with Laura Graham) Performing Indigeneity: Global Histories and Contemporary Experiences (Nebraska UP, 2014). He is currently a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin, where he is completing a book manuscript for Cambridge UP titled: German History Unbound, 1760s-1960s.

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