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About this book

For far too long, the history of the modern era has been written as a history of isolated nation states. This book which presents both interpretation and primary source documents challenges a nation-centred account, exploring the interconnected and interrelated nature of societies in the nineteenth and twentieth century.

Responding to the burgeoning interest and number of courses in global and world history, Intercultural Transfers and the Making of the Modern World introduces both the methods and materials of transnational history. Case studies highlight transnational connections through the examples of cooperatives, housing reform, education, eugenics and non-violent resistance. By embracing the interconnected nature of human history across continents and oceans and by employing the concept of intercultural transfer, Adam explores the roots and global distribution of major transformations and their integration into local, regional, and national contexts. This is an invaluable resource for the study of global, world and transnational history.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Nature of Intercultural Transfer

Abstract
The history of the modern era has often been portrayed as centered on the nation and the state. Since the inception of history as an academic discipline at the beginning of the nineteenth century, history has been taught and written as national history. Most of the Western societies quickly claimed a national history that in spite of the modern nature of nation states presumed an ancient history, often stretching back several thousand years, that gave modern nation states a glorious but imagined past. And while scholars such as Benedict Anderson reminded us that nations are “imagined communities,” historical scholarship all too often continues to follow in the footsteps of our nationalist nineteenth-century predecessors. The academic job market still offers positions for American, British or German historians, lectures are still given about the history of a particular country, and textbooks are still written for teaching the history of single nations.
Thomas Adam

Chapter One. Cooperatives and Capitalism: The Democratization of the Economy

Abstract
The lives of laborers and their families in nineteenth-century industrial society were characterized by social injustice. Long work days for little pay, overpriced foodstuffs of dismal quality, and living quarters that were often more suitable for animals rather than human beings were staples of their lives. Frustration with these conditions resulted in anger at the machines that seemed to be the main cause of the laborers’ misery. The destruction of these machines, therefore, appeared a logical response to those subjected to work in factories. Others turned to alcohol in an attempt to escape everyday misery. While neither the destruction of machines, which could be repaired or replaced, nor alcoholism offered a way out of the terrible living conditions for working-class families, trade unions represented an innovative concept for the workers. However, the concern of trade unions with the betterment of working conditions, shortening the work day, and raising pay for workers did not necessarily result in a general improvement of the overall quality of life for working-class families. Living conditions remained virtually unaffected by trade union activities throughout the entire nineteenth century. Housing conditions and nutrition were out-side of trade unions’ competency.
Thomas Adam

Chapter Two. Better Housing for Better Citizens: Hill’s Worldwide Appeal to Housing Reform

Abstract
In the course of the nineteenth century, more and more Europeans and Americans moved from the countryside to the big cities that provided work in factories and shops. While in 1801 only 17 percent of the European population lived in cities, the urban population grew to about 35 percent by midcentury and reached 54 percent by 1891. Metropolises such as Berlin, London, New York, Paris, and Vienna became home to millions of people, and even industrial centers such as Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds provided a home for hundreds of thousands of people. Witnessing the rapid industrialization and urbanization in England, Frederick Engels observed the horrifying living conditions for working-class families. Here is what he had to say about one neighborhood in London:
Thomas Adam

Chapter Three. The Transnational Transfer of Eugenics: Better Citizens for a Better Future?

Abstract
The crude extension of Charles Darwin’s theory on evolution and natural selection into human society and the acceptance of Gregor Mendel’s laws of inheritance provided a pseudoscientific but very popular basis for the development of eugenics as a program to improve the human race through selective breeding at the beginning of the twentieth century. Eugenicists believed that character traits, human health, and moral and social conditions were inherited the same way physical traits were passed on from one generation to the next. Proponents of eugenics saw humans as a product of their genes and not of their environment. Social reform thus had to start with the improvement of the gene pool and not with the improvement of the social environment. Therefore, eugenics focused on the discouragement of procreation for those deemed undesirable and the encouragement of procreation for those who were deemed desirable. The undesirable portion of the population was to be prevented from procreation by means of forced sterilization, birth control, and restraints on marriage while the desirable portion of the population was to be encouraged by rewards for parenthood.
Thomas Adam

Chapter Four. Montessori’s Contribution to School Reform: From Memorization to Problem-Solving

Abstract
Throughout the nineteenth century, schools all over Europe were characterized by an atmosphere of absolute subordination of the student to the teacher, corporal punishment for even minor infractions, and a notion that relegated learning to the memorization and repetition of knowledge presented by the omnipotent teacher. We learn from Edmond Holmes’ book What Is and What Might Be that the concept of original sin and with it the belief that children were inherently evil had still not vanished from the practices and theory of education. Teachers felt compelled and justified to severely discipline their students and to expect absolute subordination in their attempts to diminish evil in their students.
Thomas Adam

Chapter Five. Change Through Non-Violence: The Rationalization of Conflict Solution

Abstract
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s exposure to racial discrimination in South Africa marked a turning point in his life and set him on his path to develop non-violent means of resistance to European domination. After he had completed his training as a lawyer in London, Gandhi accepted in 1893 out of financial necessity a position as a legal counsel to Indian Muslim traders and merchants in South Africa. Just one week after his arrival, Gandhi took a train ride to Johannesburg, where he was expected to begin his new job. He bought a ticket for the first-class car and, dressed in his European suit, he entered the appropriate train compartment. When, during the trip, a white passenger took offense at the presence of a colored passenger in first class, Gandhi was thrown of the train and left at an unpleasant train station for the night. This encounter made Gandhi realize that in the British Empire racial discrimination affected even the well-off and well-trained members of the colonial elite. The outrage he felt during this cold night at the empty train station in the middle of nowhere was the starting point for his resolution to find means and ways to fight racial discrimination.
Thomas Adam
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