Competitors & Companions: Britons and Germans in the World (19th & 20th Century)

Competitors & Companions: Britons and Germans in the World (19th & 20th Century)

Arbeitskreis Deutsche England Forschung Convenors: Julia Eichenberg, Humboldt University Berlin; Daniel Steinbach, University of Exeter; Tobias Becker, German Historical Institute
Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Großbritannienzentrum, Mohrenstraße 60 10117 Berlin
Vom - Bis
19.05.2017 - 20.05.2017
Julia Eichenberg

This workshop is concerned with British-German relations beyond government level. While official bilateral relations between Germany and Britain have been thoroughly studied, their ‘unofficial’ connections and interactions await a systematic exploration. These encounters are manifold as Britons and Germans met in various different contexts at home, in Europe, and the wider world and constantly had to define their relationship to one another as either competitors or companions against a third ‘other’. In the colonial sphere a strong sense of a mutual ‘European-ness’ towards the indigenous population could override economic rivalry and cultural differences. Archaeological expeditions or other scientific endeavours could either create transnational collaboration or nationalist competition. Artists, musicians, missionaries, or explorers might be asked to further their countries’ reputation while they sometimes felt closer to their peers and colleagues of other national background. Diplomats representing their nations and pursuing their politics would still share the life and moral index of the diplomatic corps. On the other hand, British and German representatives at multinational organisations or the EU often opted for a surprisingly nationalistic approach and economic, political, and military collaboration was repeatedly undermined by espionage or even sabotage. The varying degrees of competition and/or collaboration were not necessarily in accordance with official policy and diplomatic relations and sometimes in direct contrast to them.
The workshop discusses different aspects of British-German relations between confrontation and cooperation during the 19th and 20th century in a global perspective, while at the same time explores the creation, role, and impact of ‘the other’ and ‘the third’ in the fluctuating construction of companionship and competition.


Friday, 19 May
14.00 – 14.30 Arrival & Registration
14.30 – 15.00 Welcome & Opening Remarks
Christiane Eisenberg, Director of the Centre for British Studies
Bernhard Dietz, President of the ADEF
Julia Eichenberg, Humboldt University Berlin
Tobias Becker, German Historical Institute
Daniel Steinbach, University of Exeter

15.00 – 17.00 Session I: Competitive Collaboration
Chair: Christiane Eisenberg, HU Berlin
Axel C. Hüntelmann, Charité, Berlin: The Foundation and early Establishment of Public Health Institutions in Germany and Britain around 1900
Volker Barth, Köln: Competing Partners: The Global Collaboration between Reuters and Wolff, 1859-1934
Chris Bannister, University of London: The War of Words in the River Plate: Propaganda in Argentina during the Second World War

Tea Break

17.30 – 19.00 Keynote Lecture
Gaynor Johnson, University of Kent: Twentieth Century British Foreign Policy and the German Question

19.00 – 20.00 Drinks Reception

Saturday, 20 May
9.00–11.00 Session II: Post-War Re-encounters
Chair: Wencke Meteling, University of Marburg
Ben Holmes, University of Exeter : ‘To give hope must be our mission above everything else’: British Humanitarian Aid to post-war Germany, 1919-1925
Tara Windsor, University of Birmingham: ‘If the students are cooperating today, surely there is hope for tomorrow!’: Student Associations and German-British Exchange after the First World War
Emily Oliver, University of Warwick: ‘Fagin in Berlin Provokes a Riot’: Anti-Semitism and Anglo-German Relations in Occupied Germany

Coffee Break

11.30 – 13.30 Session III: Imperial Connections
Chair: Bernhard Dietz, Mainz
Marine Fiedler, Bern / Sciences Po: Being a ‘Singaporer’ from Hamburg: The Relationships of a Hanseatic Family with the Britons of Singapore, 1840-1914
Daniel Steinbach, University of Exeter: Nation – Race – Empire: Britons and Germans in Colonial Africa
Jan Rüger, Birkbeck - University of London: Anglo-German Smuggling; or: Writing Europe into the History of the British Empire

13.30 – 14.00 Final Discussion & Closing Remarks

14.00 – 15.00 Lunch

15.00 onwards General Meeting of the ADEF
(ADEF members only)


General Enquires and registration: Julia Eichenberg,

Registration for ADEF members / Bernhard Dietz,
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