One important notion of the nineteenth century that connects each of the readings for this week is the idea of mass mobility, and the increase in the movement of people both in and out of a country. This idea of mass mobility also brings into question the idea of nationalism within one country, and how globalization brought about a new sense of pride in one’s home country. 

Within this time of globalization and mass mobility, nationalism was on the rise, even with a large part of populations emigrating to the United States or other parts of Europe, as well as the increase in international trade. In my view, the increase in nationalism can be seen because, with the flow of, for example, German made products to places outside of Germany, it raises the importance of  Germany within the international world. Countries now depend on Germany for these specific products, causing citizens to build a sense of pride in their countries goods, and henceforth with their country. 

This rise of national pride was also seen within the country, as Germans began to fear the erasure of German culture within their own communities. This is exceptionally clear with Sebastian Conrad’s discussion of Germany and the want to bring in Polish workers into the country. There was a fear among the German people that bringing in Polish workers would lead to a “Polandization” of the German lands, stripping the communities of the Germanic culture and replacing it with Polish influences. This fear caused the implications of immigration laws within Germany, creating a period of “forced return” where Polish workers were required to return home for a certain period of time. These immigration laws were unique to Germany, created with the fear that foreign workers could remove the German culture, replacing it with a community of mixed, foreign cultures. However, they were also created with the knowledge that foreign workers were needed within the agricultural setting of their own country, because of the increase in migration from the rural to urban centers and then emigration out of Germany. The rise of nationalism also created a new fear of the other, as countries campaigned to protect their cultures against the foreign worker.

Moving away from the ideas of nationalism, I am curious about the increase in mobility among Europe. Alongside this, I wonder how much of this movement is for leisure. While the reading mainly focuses on trade and the movement of laborers into and out of a country, I am curious about how the increase in movement affected the want to travel beyond one’s country for leisure, with the goal of a shorterm adventure and no real intention to stay away from one’s homeland. Last semester I took a module on travel cultures of Europe, and we discussed the increased availability of travel among lower classes during the nineteenth century. Being able to see other countries could also lead to the growth of nationalism, as one can leave and see a new setting and culture, but in returning to one’s homeland there is an appreciation for what is familiar. I am curious how the travel literature of this time period reflects the rise of nationalism, if it does at all, and the comparisons writers would have made between their own countries and the one’s they visited.

Mass Mobility and Nationalism