In Colonial Fantasies, Imperial Realities, Lenny Ureña Valerio offers a transnational approach to Polish-German relations and nineteenth-century colonial subjectivities. She investigates key cultural dynamics in the history of medicine, colonialism, and migration that bring Germany and Prussian Poland closer to the colonial and postcolonial worlds in Africa and Latin America. She also analyzes how Poles in the German Empire positioned themselves in relation to Germans and native populations in overseas colonies. She thus recasts Polish perspectives and experiences, allowing new insights into identity formation and nationalist movements within the German Empire.
Crucially, Ureña Valerio also studies the medical projects and scientific ideas that traveled from colonies to the German metropole, and vice versa, which were influential not only in the racialization of Slavic populations, but also in bringing scientific conceptions of race to the everydayness of the German Empire. As a whole, Colonial Fantasies, Imperial Realities illuminates nested imperial and colonial relations using sources that range from medical texts and state documents to travel literature and fiction. By studying these scientific and political debates, Ureña Valerio uncovers novel ways to connect medicine, migration, and colonialism and provides an invigorating model for the analysis of Polish history from a global perspective.
“Ureña Valerio’s innovative work addresses what has been missing in recent works on the ‘eastern turn’ and ‘colonial turn’ in German studies: it integrates Polish responses to German colonial projects, both discursive and real. Another valuable contribution is her analysis of eugenics and racial hygiene discourses.”
Larry Wolff, author of Inventing Eastern Europe
“This highly interesting work brings together the insights of colonial and comparative studies. Ureña Valerio applies them to the Polish-German borderland, or ‘Prussian Poland,’ the subject of which has until now been dominated by traditional monographs seeking to claim the land as either rightfully German or rightfully Polish. Her approach is new and refreshing.”
Markus Krzoska, University of Siegen