Issue 1/2009, 105. Volume Page 1–27
Vom „Volkskörper“ Deutschnationaler Denkstil und die Positionierung der Volkskunde
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In his „Addresses to the German Nation“ of 1806 Johann Gottlieb Fichte formulates the basis for a German nationalism by using the image of the resurrection of the nation to a new dimension. The nation is thought of as an organic body, which is debilitated by strange and non-German influences. By revaluating the German language – which was brought unmodified to present times from earliest sources –, by maintaining the cultural assets that are coupled with that language and by education and physical training of the youth, however, there was hope for rescue in his eyes. Fichte attributes a paradigm of origin to German nationalism when he says that everything German is age-old and can be lively at the same time. In the diversification of science in new disciplines at the beginning of the 19th century folklore studies – proposed by Friedrich Ludwig Jahn as an execution of Fichte’s ideas – have been allocated to a very specific area: the oral tradition of narratives and songs, material culture, and recurring actions in customs and rituals. This scope of tasks represents the aspects of German cultural heritage which were considered to be threatened and in need of preservation and collection. Thus, all threatening aspects that the metaphor of the „racial corpus“ implies have been a priori excluded: In a nationalist way of thinking folklore studies were assigned with the compensation for the losses of modernization.