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Of Mind and Matter

The Duality of National Identity in the German-Danish Borderlands

by Peter Thaler

Publication Year: 2009

Of Mind and Matter analyzes identity formation in the multicultural border region of Sleswig. It highlights the changeability of national sentiments and explores what has motivated local inhabitants to define themselves as Germans or Danes. The analysis focuses especially on the respective national minorities, among whom the transitional and flexible aspects of Sleswig identity surface most clearly.

Published by: Purdue University Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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p. v


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p. vi

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p. vii

Of Mind and Matter analyzes national identity along the German-Danish border. The study strives to add new angles to the literature on national identity in border areas and to fill a conspicuous gap in English-language historiography, which includes very few contemporary analyses of this region. I hope that the book will be able to satisfy its two foremost audiences. On...

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pp. viii-ix

When historians of modern Europe have written about the relationship of Sleswig and Holstein to the modern Danish and German national states, the subject has typically arisen in connection with great events in politics and diplomacy: the upheavals of 1848, the wars of German unification in the 1860s, the cession of northern Sleswig to Denmark in 1920, and the organizing of Schleswig-Holstein...

Bilingual Topographic Glosary1

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pp. x-xi


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pp. xi-xiv

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Chapter One. Identity in the Borderlands: A Conceptual Introduction

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pp. 1-25

For many centuries, the duchy of Sleswig constituted a vital link between the German and the Scandinavian world.1 Extending 9,000 square kilometers between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, it dominated the southern portion of Jutland. Whereas the base of this large peninsula merges naturally into the north German plains, its tip points toward the coastlands of western Sweden and southern...

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Chapter Two. Political Evolution and Points of Contention: The Course of Sleswig History

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pp. 27-45

The history of Sleswig and its relations to Holstein and Denmark holds a reputation for being all but intractable. In the nineteenth century, the so-called Schleswig-Holstein question marred the lives of diplomats and politicians, and British statesman Lord Palmerston is widely quoted as calling it “so complicated that only three men in Europe have ever understood it. One was Prince Albert,...

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Chapter Three. Both Argument and Building Block: A History of Language and Culture in Sleswig

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pp. 47-68

Politics was not the only point of contention in the debate about historical legitimacy and national entitlement in Sleswig. Although surprisingly many eventually felt called to argue constitutional law and dynastic succession, historical presence and cultural traditions were issues closer to the heart of most national activists. The question as to who had arrived in the region first was never far from...

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Chapter Four. A Tale of Three Communities: National Identification in Changing Times

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pp. 69-108

When the modern concepts of nationalism and liberalism spread throughout Europe, they encountered different political and cultural environments. In polities that were rooted in one dominant culture, they transformed the nature of society but left its structures intact. In culturally composite territories such as Sleswig, by contrast, the new mode of thinking challenged the very existence of the body...

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Chapter Five. Identity on a Personal Level: Sleswig Biographies during the Age of Nationalism

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pp. 109-133

Social identities represent a group phenomenon, but they are also lived and experienced on a personal level. This makes the dividing line between individual and collective identities less rigid. The line is further blurred in environments that permit a personal choice of group attachment. In earlier periods, many of these affiliations were predetermined. Modern societies with their focus on individualism...

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Chapter Six. Where the Self Meets the Other: A Comparative Approach to Transitional Identities

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pp. 135-156

In this study of identity formation and identity change in the German-Danish borderlands, the potential malleability and ambiguity of Sleswig identity has become apparent. Such distinct findings beg the question whether they represent a Sleswig idiosyncrasy, a regional exception that merely confirms the universal national rule, or point to a larger phenomenon. If history wants to function as more...

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Chapter Seven. Of Mind and Matter: A Conclusion

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pp. 157-161

The history of Sleswig demonstrates the diversity of identity formation. For centuries, the duchy bridged the divide between Germany and Scandinavia. Through its origins and its rulers, it was tied to the Danish realm. Within this dynastic conglomerate, Sleswig together with Holstein formed a distinct subdivision called the duchies. This entity was governed through the German Chancellery in Copenhagen, reflecting...


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pp. 162-163


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pp. 165-191


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pp. 193-206

E-ISBN-13: 9781612490786
E-ISBN-10: 1612490786
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557535245
Print-ISBN-10: 1557535248

Page Count: 183
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 794701208
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Of Mind and Matter

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Minorities -- Denmark -- Sønderjyllands amt -- History.
  • Ethnicity -- Germany -- Schleswig-Holstein -- History.
  • Sønderjyllands amt (Denmark) -- Ethnic relations.
  • Minorities -- Germany -- Schleswig-Holstein -- History.
  • Nationalism -- Denmark -- Sønderjyllands amt -- History.
  • Cultural pluralism -- Denmark -- Sønderjyllands amt -- History.
  • Nationalism -- Germany -- Schleswig-Holstein -- History.
  • Ethnicity -- Denmark -- Sønderjyllands amt -- History.
  • Cultural pluralism -- Germany -- Schleswig-Holstein -- History.
  • Schleswig-Holstein (Germany) -- Ethnic relations.
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