Book Review: Migrations in the German Lands, 1500-2000 by Jason Coy Jared Poley and Alexander Schunka.

AuthorGood, Bradley
PositionBook review

Coy, Jason, Jared Poley, and Alexander Schunka, eds. Migrations in the German Lands, 1500-2000. New York: Berghahn, 2016. xii + 257 pages. Hardcover, $110.00.

Migrations in the German Lands, 1500-2000 is a well-curated volume that seeks to both elaborate on known historical themes and to provide a critical counterpoint to the discussion of immigration and migration today. Within the preface of the book, the editors, historians Jason Coy, Jared Poley and Alexander Schunka, mention that "the refugee crisis of 2015-16... has overshadowed the final stages of the preparation of this volume" (p. xi). However, rather than ignoring the real-world context and implications of this book, as a number of editors may have done, they embraced the new circumstances. The editors' note that "the present volume intends to raise an awareness of the historical dimensions of migration to and within Germany, demonstrating that German society and culture is not dealing with such phenomena for the first time" (p. xi). Due to this focus on the historical context for current events, this book is applicable to a wide range of disciplines and fields including social science, economics, history, German studies, and migration studies. While Migrations in the German Lands, 1500-2000 may not sound especially timely or critical, this book provides a new lens for looking at the present within the context of the past.

The articles in the book fit into one of two major categories: religious migration or economic migration. The articles on religious migration provide a degree of focus and clarity to well-known issues in German history. Martyrs, Catholics, Huguenots, and Jews are all represented with attention paid to lesser-known attributes of these migrations. However, economic migration is where this book truly shines, making relevant connections to Germany today. Penal migration and variations on the guest worker system through the ages shows that sixteenth-century German lands bear a number of similarities to the Germany of...

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