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  • Antikatholizismus: Deutschland und Italien im Zeitalter der europäischen Kulturkämpfe
  • Rebecca Ayako Bennette
Antikatholizismus: Deutschland und Italien im Zeitalter der europäischen Kulturkämpfe. By Manuel Borutta. [Bürgertum Neue Folge. Studien zur Zivilgesellschaft, Band 7.] (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. 2010. Pp. 488. €61.95. ISBN: 978-3-525-36849-7.)

Manuel Borutta’s Antikatholizismus: Deutschland und Italien im Zeitalter der europäischen Kulturkämpfe is a book with a very large and ambitious scope. Indeed, its central arguments require it to be so. According to Borutta, anti-Catholicism played a far larger role in modern European history than often is acknowledged. Its central role throughout the long nineteenth century prompted liberals time and again to take action against everything from clerical influence in election campaigning to the continued existence of religious orders. Borutta demonstrates that the Kulturkampf, far from just referring to the decade after the 1871 unification of Germany, can just as well be applied to many other events throughout the century in both Germany and elsewhere. His two main areas of focus are Germany and Italy; yet Borutta emphasizes the transnational, European-wide scope of the struggles. Even though Borutta is interested in the interaction between the discourse and the events, another major issue that he foregrounds is the important role played by newspapers, journals, books, and other media in spreading and reinforcing anti-Catholic views. In drawing out these and many other more specific arguments, Borutta provides scholars with a well-researched and informative book.

One of the most interesting and illuminating sections of Borutta’s book comes in the first part that posits anti-Catholicism in the framework of Orientalism. As evidence of incompatibility with modern progress, Catholicism was treated as static, exotic, and primitive. Borutta provides a particularly fascinating discussion of this in his comparisons of how writers depicted Catholics in Europe with how European colonizers described indigenous peoples elsewhere. Moreover, he shows that even the more positively inclined Romantics asserted the same basic vision of Catholicism as fundamentally belonging to “the Other.” In the Italian case, much of the focus of this Orientalizing discourse on Rome proved particularly tricky to navigate in the recasting of the home of the pope into a city representing the new nation-state. [End Page 137]

Also quite useful is Borutta’s discussion in the third part of his book of the factors limiting the actual advance of the various secularizing efforts. Beyond the resistance of the Church and believers, factors within the camp of those attempting to limit the influence of religion also acted as a brake on secularization. The liberal vision of the relationship between state and Church as one of marriage, for example, meant that religion was still guaranteed a role—albeit quite subordinate—in the nation in all frameworks except those of Kulturkämpfer on the far left.

Although the liberal vision of state and Church as man and wife is integrally connected to issues of gendering, Borutta expands on the description of Catholicism as feminine throughout the book, especially in part 2. He certainly uncovers interesting material in this part as well, but it does seem one of the less innovative sections, especially given existing research like that in Michael Gross’s The War against Catholicism: Liberalism and the Anti-Catholic Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Germany (Ann Arbor, MI, 2004). Although there are certainly many important differences of interpretation between the two books, Borutta might have been more generous at times in showing how much of his work could be seen as in the same vein as that of Gross’s. Moreover, Borutta’s points about secularization theory as an integral part of the story, not an explanation for anti-Catholicism but a product of it, are quite provocative but never seem to get as much sustained attention in the book as they deserve. Nonetheless, Antikatholizismus is a fine book and a welcome addition to the literature. Its impressive scope allows it to provide many insights as to how integral anti-Catholicism was to the conflicts of the nineteenth century and beyond.

Rebecca Ayako Bennette
Middlebury College


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pp. 137-138
Launched on MUSE
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