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Germany and Latin America – Developing Infrastructure and Foreign Policy, 1871-1914
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From the formation of the German nation in 1871 until the eve of World War I, Germany’s emergence on the world stage as a global power was never a simple endeavor nor one where there was a clear path forward for policymakers in Berlin or diplomats serving abroad. While scholars have focused on the direct actions in creating a formal German empire, a clear mark of a global power, they have not fully engaged in examining the impact of indirect forms of imperialism and empire building. This dissertation is a global study of German interactions in South America, and how it relied on its diplomats there to assist in the construction of an informal empire, thus demonstrating Germany’s global presence. This coterie of diplomats and foreign policy officials in Berlin pointed to South America as a region of untapped potential for Germany to establish its global footprint and become a world power. This work draws upon primary sources, both unpublished and published, examining the records of diplomats, businessmen, and colonial and religious groups to show the vast networks and intersections that influenced German policy in South America as it sought to increase its global presence and construct an informal empire. The Foreign Office relied on a cohort of trusted development specialists to put its vision into practice. This select group of atypical diplomats (non-nobles, with extensive knowledge in many fields), had considerable backing and wielded significant influence on German policy in South America. The ways in which German diplomas intersected and interacted with religion, trade, and military needs influenced German policy in South America. They used these connections to demonstrate Germany’s power, increase its prestige in South America, and strengthen Berlin’s global presence and claims of being a Weltmacht. Such efforts were part of early attempts at globalization, as the German Foreign Office, guided by its diplomats abroad, sought to create a more integrated global community, and demonstrate Germany as a global power. While Germany’s policy was diverse, at its heart was a concept of creating an “empire by infrastructure” as a means of projecting power. Viewing South America as a place to build infrastructure, Germany engaged in a variety of projects there. The resulting picture of German diplomatic efforts in South America yields a study in policy and empire, as well as a global and transnational history of German diplomacy.
Yokell IV, Marshall A (2018). Germany and Latin America – Developing Infrastructure and Foreign Policy, 1871-1914. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from