Cultural Industries along the Rhine: Nationalism versus Internationalism

Cultural Industries along the Rhine: Nationalism versus Internationalism

Organising team of the network "Transnational RHINe Conference"
Winkel and Eltville
Vom - Bis
19.05.2022 - 21.05.2022
Ralf Banken, Historisches Seminar, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

8th Transnational RHINe Conference

Cultural Industries along the Rhine: Nationalism versus Internationalism.

Brentanohaus, Winkel and Tagescentrum Bundesbank, Eltville 19–21 May 2022.

Cultural Industries along the Rhine: Nationalism versus Internationalism

During the last two centuries, the Rhine River became the foremost commercial inland waterway of Europe. Simultaneously, it has been noted that of all European landscapes the Rhine has been ‘the most heavily overlaid with cultural and political meaning.’ (Leerssen 2017). Its natural splendor, the presence of the many adjacent crumbling castles, picturesque cities, fertile soils and vineyards attracted artists, tourists and armies. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries the Rhine became a source of pride, a promotor of cultural identity unifying regions whilst, at the same time, constituting a political boundary.

In 1935, Lucien Febvre wrote that during its entire history, the Rhine was sometimes a border, sometimes a highway and most of the time both.

The Rhine should, nonetheless, be seen not only as an important waterway and key location for the chemical and steel clusters, among others, but also as a structuring force for transnational cultural and creative industries. Clearly, the river, as a result of the rise of rich cities along its banks, facilitated the development of fashion and art markets. Moreover, the environment along the upper middle Rhine Valley was particularly suitable for vineyards. A large wine industry arose whereby the river functioned as a means of transport, serving consumers along the river and its tributaries, but also as the necessary source of fresh water. Finally, the Rhine was the cradle of Romanticism, giving rise to countless cultural expressions in painting, poetry and music, producing the very first industries in leisure and tourism, of which Baedeker’s travel guide empire is perhaps the most famous and certainly the first example.

The forthcoming 8th conference seeks to analyze the long-term impact on the Rhine Region of this interplay between a political-cultural environment of nationalism and internationalism on the one hand and the cultural industries on the other. It hypothesizes that these industries along the Rhine have been a powerful source of convergence in cultural expressions along the river. Central questions are: How did the cultural industries along the Rhine take shape – is this an early example of a cultural and creative ecosystem? Was it these industries that created (aspects of) this transnational Rhine culture, or did the political-cultural environment mostly determine where and how these industries could develop? When did the river constitute more of a cultural border rather than a unifier and what role did business play? To explore this long-term development of the Rhine region three creative industries have been selected: i.e. the wine, fashion and tourist industries. An additional two themes - security cultures, and internationalism - will provide the necessary conceptual tools to analyze this development over the long run.

From the outset in 2009, the organizers have ventured to build a transnational network of scholars interested in the history of the Rhine. Initially consisting of scholars from countries along the Rhine and its delta, the Transnational Rhine Network gradually expanded to comprise scholars from all over the world, including Britain, Japan, and the US. The organizing committee has invited an international group of scholars to present their papers and others to discuss these. However, all those interested in participating in the discussion are encouraged to do so.

For more information please contact Eva-Maria Roelevink ( or Joep Schenk (

Organised with financial support of Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt a.M. (Prof. Dr. Werner Plumpe), Wirtschaftsgeschichte der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz (Jun.-Prof. Dr. Eva-Maria Roelevink), Security History Network Utrecht University (Dr. Joep Schenk), Institut für WSG Philipps-Uni. Marburg (Prof. Dr. Christian Kleinschmidt); Organisations team of this years RHINE-Conference: Prof. Dr. Ralf Banken, Dr. Joep Schenk, Dr. Eva-Maria Roelevink, Prof. Dr. Ben Wubs.


Thursday 19, Brentanohaus, Winkel

15.00–15.15 Welcome

15.15–15.30 Introduction: Ralf Banken (Univ. Frankfurt am Main), Ben Wubs (Univ. of Rotterdam)

15.30–17.00 Session 1: Wine

Rod Phillips (Carleton Univ.): The Reception and Importance of Rhine Wines on European and International Markets – especially in the 19th Century

Henning Türk (ZZF Potsdam): Romanticism, Regional Identity and Business Interests: The marketing of Palatinate High Quality Wine in the Second Half of the 19th Century

Comment: Ann-Sophie Overkamp (Univ. Tübingen)

17.00–19.00 Guided Tour through the Brentanohaus (requested)

19.30 Dinner Lecture: Knut Bergmann (Cologne): Mit Wein Staat machen (Making State with Wine)

Friday 20, Tagescentrum Bundesbank, Eltville

09.00–10.00 Ride to Eltville

10.30–12.00 Session 2: Textiles

Stefanie van de Kerkhof (Univ. Mannheim): The Rhenish Silk Industry, the Bauhaus and International Style - From Avantgarde Culture to High-Tech-Architecture (1920–1990)

Ben Wubs (Univ. Rotterdam): Fashion and Textiles in the Rhine Economy after World War II

Comment: Christian Kleinschmidt (Univ. Marburg)

13.00–14:30 Session 3: Security Cultures

Nicolai Hannig (Univ. Darmstadt): The Rhine Correction. Hydraulic Politics and the Myth of Tulla since the 19th Century.

Joep Schenk (Utrecht Univ.): Berlin 1885: where European Entrepreneurial Interests and 'universal' Legal Principles meet in shaping the Colonial River.

Comment: Beatrice De Graaf (Utrecht Univ.)

15.00–16.30 Session 4: Crossing Borders

Werner Scheltjens (Univ. Bamberg): From automatic handwritten Text Recognition to online Database: Results of a Pilot Study on the Schenkenschanz Customs Registers (1630–1810).

Guido Thiemeyer (Univ. Düsseldorf): Inland Navigation in the Rhine Region during World War II

Comment Margit Schulte-Beerbühl (Univ. Düsseldorf)

16.30–19.00 Short hike into the Vineyards around

Saturday 21, Tagescentrum Bundesbank, Eltville

09.30–11.00 Session 5: Tourism

Werner Plumpe, Johanna Steinfeld (Univ. Frankfurt am Main): Wine, Romance and Masses. The long History of Rhine Tourism since the early 19th Century

Jeroen Euwe (Univ. Rotterdam): The Art Trade along the Rhine

Comment Gabriele Clemens (Univ. Saarbrücken)

11.30–12.00 Concluding Remarks: Joep Schenk (Utrecht Univ.), Eva-Maria Roelevink (Univ. Mainz), General and Project Discussion

13.00 End of the conference


Eva-Maria Roelevink

Joep Schenk

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