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Research project

The ambiguities of the interwar international order and the rise of German and Polish emigrant colonialism

This project has received funding via the EUI ESR call 2023, dedicated to Early Stage Researchers, with the contribution of the EUI Widening Europe Programme. The EUI Widening Europe Programme initiative, backed by contributions from the European Union and EUI Contracting States, is designed to strengthen internationalisation, competitiveness, and quality in research in Widening countries, and thus foster a more cohesive European Higher Education and Research area.

In the years after the First World War, several emigrant-sending countries  – states like Poland and Germany, Italy and Japan – began channelling their outflows of migrants into projects for overseas expansion. What they called “emigrant colonialism” involved purchasing isolated territory abroad and strategically settling their migrants to simulate a settler colonial experience and manufacture demographic territorial claims. As these national enclaves’ populations swelled to fill entire regions, emigrant colonialists conspired to exercise the right to self-determination and forge national self-governing polities.

This project aims to explain how numerous countries developed such a simultaneously idiosyncratic and yet very similar strategy by reconstructing the perspectives of German and Polish emigrant-colonial activists from the 1880s through the 1940s. This comparative analysis of German and Polish mentalities, practices, and policies will situate them within secondary scholarship on Japan and Italy. 

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