The Common Grounds of Conflict: Racial Visions of World Order 1880–1940

  • Christian Geulen
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Transnational History Series book series (PMSTH)


The era of high imperialism can be regarded as the first period in which a global order was seriously imagined as at least a possibility for the near future. Imperialism had not only made the globality of the world perceivable as an empirical reality, but also produced a whole range of theories and ideologies supposedly proving the irreversibility and quasi-natural character of imperial expansion. Some of those ideologies had only a short life and quickly disappeared when, after 1918, the nationalist movements in the non-Western world became more powerful and the process of decolonization began to take shape. Among those imperialist ideologies that survived the World War of 1914–1918 almost unharmed and served as an important mediator between the national and the global was most significantly the imperialist attempt to envision a new world order by the means of science and racial theory. What today is implied by catchphrases such as clash of civilizations, cultural conflict, or intercultural relations was—in the era between the late nineteenth century and World War II—primarily articulated in terms of race. Until it became officially banned from the international political discourse after 1945, the concept of race was the most common and central idea around which the global relation between peoples, nations, classes, groups, and even individuals was reflected upon in scientific and popular-scientific terms. From evolutionism to eugenics and from nationalism and fascism to imperialism and even socialism, the discourse of race served as a recurring field of controversy, debate, and struggle over different visions of the global “order of things.”1


World Order Racial Theory Totalitarian Regime Racial Thinking Racial Discourse 
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© Sebastian Conrad and Dominic Sachsenmaier 2007

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  • Christian Geulen

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