Cosmopolitan highlanders: Region and nation in Anglo-German encounters in the Himalayas, 1903-1945

Book chapter


Neuhaus, Tom 2015. Cosmopolitan highlanders: Region and nation in Anglo-German encounters in the Himalayas, 1903-1945. in: Palgrave Macmillan.
AuthorsNeuhaus, Tom
Abstract

Studies of national and regional identity have long been a staple of British and European historiography. In German historiography, the development of nationalism and national unification is well-charted territory, as is the importance of discourses of Heimat and Volk. The persistence of strong local and regional allegiances, particularly in the Southern German states, is equally well-known. A similar trajectory can be found in British historiography. While historians such as Linda Colley have explored the creation of a common British identity and a sense of Britishness during the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the emergence of particular notions of Englishness has attracted the attention of scholars such as Peter Mandler. All this relates to wider discussions concerning the role of the nation-state in modern history. In many ways, however, the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were also periods of globalization with an increase in international and intercontinental travel, as well as a significant degree of mobility of ideas and goods. While this perhaps never came as a surprise to historians of Britain, who have long dealt with Britain’s engagement with the rest of the world, historians of Germany have only begun to embrace this new global history more recently. The past two decades have witnessed an increasing proliferation of studies that seek to place German history in its global context. This has left us with a picture where globalization and the ‘rise’ of the nation-state existed in tandem – a picture that at first sight can often be paradoxical, but which has also endowed us a with a more nuanced understanding of the interplay between regional, national and transnational histories. This chapter will explore this interplay by examining British and German accounts of travel to Tibet and the Himalayas, showing that allegiances to both nation and region could co-exist quite easily, and could indeed be complemented by a sense of belonging to a common humanity across regional and national boundaries. The example of British and German travellers to Tibet and the Himalayas demonstrates that interwar Europeans could at once be fiercely nationalistic, proud of their local and regional heritage, and aware of what united them with travellers from other parts of Europe and, at times, the entire world. In fact, strong regional allegiances could serve, in some cases, to enhance a feeling of connectedness across national borders.

Studies of national and regional identity have long been a staple of British and European
historiography. In German historiography, the development of nationalism and national
unification is well-charted territory, as is the importance of discourses of Heimat and
Volk. The persistence of strong local and regional allegiances, particularly in the Southern
German states, is equally well-known. A similar trajectory can be found in British
historiography. While historians such as Linda Colley have explored the creation of a
common British identity and a sense of Britishness during the eighteenth and nineteenth
century, the emergence of particular notions of Englishness has attracted the attention of
scholars such as Peter Mandler. All this relates to wider discussions concerning the role
of the nation-state in modern history. In many ways, however, the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries were also periods of globalization with an increase in international
and intercontinental travel, as well as a significant degree of mobility of ideas and goods.
While this perhaps never came as a surprise to historians of Britain, who have long dealt
with Britain’s engagement with the rest of the world, historians of Germany have only
begun to embrace this new global history more recently. The past two decades have
witnessed an increasing proliferation of studies that seek to place German history in its
global context. This has left us with a picture where globalization and the ‘rise’ of the
nation-state existed in tandem – a picture that at first sight can often be paradoxical, but
which has also endowed us a with a more nuanced understanding of the interplay
between regional, national and transnational histories. This chapter will explore this
interplay by examining British and German accounts of travel to Tibet and the
Himalayas, showing that allegiances to both nation and region could co-exist quite easily,
and could indeed be complemented by a sense of belonging to a common humanity
across regional and national boundaries. The example of British and German travellers to
Tibet and the Himalayas demonstrates that interwar Europeans could at once be fiercely
nationalistic, proud of their local and regional heritage, and aware of what united them
with travellers from other parts of Europe and, at times, the entire world. In fact, strong
regional allegiances could serve, in some cases, to enhance a feeling of connectedness
across national borders.

KeywordsHimalayas; Tibet; Travel; Germany; Cosmopolitanism; Regionalism
Year2015
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN978-1-137-34779-4
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137347794
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10545/620629
hdl:10545/620629
File
File Access Level
Open
File
Publication dates2015
Publication process dates
Deposited17 Oct 2016, 16:45
ContributorsUniversity of Derby
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