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'Marriage and Cultural Diversity in the German Empire'

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MARDIV ('Marriage and Cultural Diversity in the German Empire')

Reporting period: 2016-09-19 to 2018-09-18

Marriage and Cultural Diversity in the German Empire (MARDIV) sought to address how seemingly universal and global norms relate to diversity politics within national societies. It focused on a case study of marriage and family law in the German Empire in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Marriage and family law is an important area for understanding this issue because the family is often associated with biological drives that are seen to be universal. However, culturally specific issues related to religious, ethnic, regional, national and socio-economic identities have also been associated with the family.

MARDIV sought to advance our understanding of these issues not only in the past, but also more generally. It aimed to do this through a number of avenues, including academic publications as well as popular publications; two high-key panel discussions including external stakeholders working on issues related to diversity and the family in contemporary Germany, including family politics related to the recent influx of refugees from the Middle East as well as related to changes in same-sex marriage law and cohabitation practices; and, through a high-key international conference and the creation of a related international and interdisciplinary network of scholars working on diversity, norm diffusion and rights issues related to the family. Through these activities, and through the findings of MARDIV, the project sought to contribute to society more generally by engaging with the EU societal challenge 'Europe in a Changing World', by demonstrating the central role of the family in inclusive and reflective societies and providing historical understanding about the growing variety of family forms and the diversity of legal frameworks on the family in Europe.

The overall project objectives were fourfold: 1) archival and library research on marriage and the family the German Empire; 2) develop a theoretical framework related to diversity, legal norms and the family; 3) disseminate project findings and develop the network of scholars working in this area; 4) transfer related knowledge through activities with key stakeholders, public events and popular publications. MARDIV also sought to advance the PI's career through training in historical sociology by working with the PS at the University of Göttingen, and it sought to have an impact on the research environment at the host institution. Not least, it sought to reinvigorate the area of historical sociology by forefronting a global focus that is sensitive to questions of diffusion, connection and imperial exchange, as well as issues related to legal norms and human rights.
"MARDIV consisted of five work packages, each with its own focus and results. In total, the project has resulted in 12 planned publications, 1 conference, 2 public events, an international research network, plans for a follow-on funded project, and a seminar series, alongside regular dissemination activities.

The first work package was a review of secondary literature. It resulted in several outputs including, amongst others, the book proposal for Civilising Marriage: Family, Nation and State in the German Empire (under consideration by CUP); an article draft on marriage and pluralism in the German Empire; the first of four op-ed articles from the project; the start of a seminar series on 'New Directions in Historical Sociology' at the University of Göttingen.

The second work package developed the theoretical framework and knowledge exchange with external partners. Key results included, amongst others, a public panel discussion with external stakeholders on 'Cultural Diversity and the Family in Modern Germany: Refugees, Migration and the Family in Question, Past and Present' at Göttingen (16 May 2017) and an article draft on the harmonization of family law.

The third work package focused on imperial and diaspora primary research at various archives and libraries throughout Germany, and its key result was the finding that standardizing family law within the multiethnic German Empire proved particularly difficult in its various overseas colonial settings, especially in contrast to efforts within the metropole. This result was manifested in various project publications and dissemination activities from this period and beyond, such as the paper given at the ENIUGH Conference in Budapest (Sept. 2017).

The fourth work package focused on running an international conference and identifying the limitations and generalizability of the project framework. Key results included, amongst others, the conference held at the Max Planck Institute for Ethnic and Religious Diversity at Göttingen (Nov. 2018); the related edited book Human Rights and the Family: Historical Perspectives (under consideration by Palgrave Macmillan); and, the article 'From Faith to Face? ""Mixed Marriage"" and the Politics of Difference in Imperial Germany', The History of the Family, 24/3, summer 2019: 466-93, which forms part of a special issue co-edited by the PI on ‘Romantic Relationships across Boundaries: Global and Comparative Perspectives’ for The History of the Family (238pp).

The final work package concentrated on dissemination and knowledge exchange. Key results included, amongst others, a public panel discussion with external stakeholders on 'Cultural Diversity and the Family in Germany: Marriage, Family Forms and the Law' (June 2019) at the MPI for Comparative and International Law in Hamburg and the formulation of a research proposal draft for a major grant to follow on from MARDIV."
MARDIV has paved a new agenda for research related to the history of diversity and the family in Germany. To date, studies have focused primarily on developments within mainland Germany or within its overseas colonies. MARDIV has bridged this divide by combining both areas of inquiry, while also linking questions of religious, ethnic, linguistic, national and sexual diversity as well as the key issue of gender in family law and politics. Not least, MARDIV has brought our understanding of these issues forward by highlighting the essential role of international legal developments for those within national and imperial settings. Finally, MARDIV has shown the long-lasting effects within Germany of the politics of the family related to questions of diversity, the law and rights, including what would later come to be called 'human rights'.

Its implications transcend German history, and indeed developments in Germany to the present, as MARDIV shows how this history is part of a broader and shared experience across Europe, and to a great extent, internationally, through the common ties of empire, migration, and international law and organisations. The socio-economic impact and wider societal implications are significant: MARDIV shows the deep history that has helped shape current debates about the integration of minority groups, including refugees, in contemporary Europe in light of varied familial practices and religious identities. It also sheds light on the entrenched nature of twenty-first-century European debates about legislating on same-sex marriage and related reforms to family law. In this way, it has contributed to the EU societal challenge 'Europe in a Changing World'. In terms of publications and other specific outputs and impacts, the expected results of the project are outlined above and Technical Report Part B.
German Family Album (issued by the state upon marriage)