The Geography of Collectivism
This chapter illustrates how German nationalist Mennonites, such as Hinrich van der Smissen, portrayed the growing association between their religion and their nationality as natural and almost inevitable. However, this process was in fact contingent and highly contested. As viewed from the beginning or even the middle of the nineteenth century, the development of a specifically German–Mennonite nexus would have seemed just one of many possible outcomes, and in later years, observers continued to find it as surprising as it was new. Despite the grandiose terms in which these nationalists touted the emergence of a German Mennonite “imagined community,” this idea always held more power for a few dedicated activists than it did for the majority of its alleged members.
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